(Reuters) - Predictions of icy roads and freezing temperatures prompted school closings and emergency preparations in several states in the U.S. South on Wednesday, ahead of a major storm expected to blast snow across the Northeast later this week.
Winter weather advisories and watches were in place from southern Ohio to northern Georgia, and east to North Carolina, as snow and sleet blew south from Tennessee and Kentucky.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency late on Tuesday in 15 counties, and at least 20 school districts in the state canceled classes or planned early dismissals ahead of the frigid weather, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta.
In North Carolina, state officials began preparing for the possibility of conditions that could turn roadways dangerously slick. "North Carolina is in store for the coldest temperatures of the season,” Governor Pat McCrory said in a statement.
The winter weather triggering alarm in the South is only a precursor to a storm forecast to dump snow across the U.S. Northeast starting on Friday, said Rich Otto, a meteorologist with the NWS Weather Prediction Center.
As much as 2 feet of snow is possible along the urban corridor extending from Washington, D.C. to New York and Boston, the weather service said.
(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Fla.; Editing by Dan Grebler)