Snowstorm cancels more than 6K flights

Sonny McManus, of Nashville, Tenn., right, waits in line to reschedule her flight at Miami International Airport, after her flight to Nashville was canceled, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016, in Miami. Airlines have canceled more than 2,700 flights Friday to, from or within the U.S., as a blizzard swings up the East Coast, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The latest on the blizzard slamming the eastern part of the United States. (all times local)

4:10 p.m.

The storm system ravaging the East Coast brought tornadoes and snow to Mississippi.

The National Weather Service in Jackson confirmed at least two tornadoes tore through Lamar and Simpson counties on Thursday. No injuries were reported.

By Friday, parts of northern Mississippi had received up to 2 inches of snow.

Meteorologist Brad Bryant says it’s rare for a system to bring tornadoes and snow to the state.

Both tornadoes damaged homes in the area, uprooted trees and downed power lines. The snow caused accidents on roadways and shuttered schools and businesses.

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2:40 p.m.

Airlines canceled more than 6,000 flights to, from or within the U.S. for Friday and Saturday, as a blizzard began covering much of the Eastern U.S.

The bulk of Friday’s 2,900 cancelations are in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. Another 3,300 flights were canceled for Saturday. Those cancelations center on Philadelphia, Washington, and New York, with airlines essentially shutting down all flights into those cities.

By Sunday afternoon, however, the airlines hope to be back to a full schedule to handle the typical influx of business travelers heading out to start a week on the road.

One bit of good news: Saturday is the slowest travel day of the week.

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1:40 p.m.

Republican Gov. Chris Christie is returning to New Jersey from the presidential campaign trail and is preparing to meet with his cabinet and brief the press.

Christie had been scheduled to remain in New Hampshire through the weekend, when the bulk of the storm was expected to dump up to 18 inches of snow on parts of New Jersey.

Christie will hold a storm briefing with his Cabinet members Friday night and then will speak with the media from the Newark Department of Transportation garage.

Christie said Friday he was canceling campaign events Friday and Saturday because of the weather, but New Jersey’s first lady Mary Pat would stay in New Hampshire.

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1 p.m.

A Tennessee Highway Patrolman says interstates are “pure gridlock” around downtown Nashville and “just totally shut down.”

Lt. Bill Miller says snow plows and salt trucks are out, but they can’t keep up with the winter weather.

Josh Booker is a cook at a Nashville Waffle House restaurant. He says the restaurant is putting employees up at a nearby hotel in order to keep the Waffle House open 24 hours a day.

Booker says the restaurant should have put them up overnight on Thursday because he barely made it in to work on Friday morning with his fiancee, who also works at the Waffle House, and two children.

He says they took it slow on the snow-covered roads but got stuck at the intersection just in front of the restaurant. Several people came out and pushed the car into the parking lot.

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12:15 p.m.

The snowstorm forecast from meteorologists was dead-on and is about to turn into a nightmare for some 50 million people in the East Coast.

The forecasters are calling for snowfall that will be measured in feet, gale force winds, coastal flooding and white-out conditions.

The feared snowstorm sloshed from the Ohio Valley into Virginia on Friday morning and was approaching Washington’s doorstep a couple hours earlier than predicted.

Daniel Petersen, forecaster at the National Weather Service’s prediction center in College Park, Maryland, says it looks just like promised with accumulations threatening 30 inches or more in some places.

For people living from Washington to Philadelphia, Petersen had simple advice: hunker down.

Blizzard warnings stretched from Washington to New York with heavy snow likely to go even further north than that, stopping just short of Boston.

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11:25 a.m.

Authorities say a couple was in a vehicle that slid off an icy road and plummeted down a 300-foot embankment in Tennessee, killing the woman driver.

Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford said Stacy Sherrill was driving a vehicle with her husband riding along when it slid off the road. Her husband survived the crash, but it took him several hours to climb the embankment and report the accident.

At least five people have died in storm-related crashes in Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina. Officials are warning people to stay off roads as the blizzard makes its way across the East Coast.

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10:40 a.m.

Even though snow has yet to fall in Atlanta as people across the South and East prepare for a major storm, the city’s mayor is urging employers to send workers home early to avoid a repeat of the freeway chaos of January 2014.

Mayor Kasim Reed says Atlanta government offices will close at 11 a.m. Friday, and city schools will dismiss students between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Reed is asking Atlanta employers to let their workers leave by 2 p.m.

Reed says it’s important that office workers and others who commute into Atlanta for the workday don’t leave all at once. That’s what happened in 2014, leaving scores of motorists trapped on jammed freeways overnight.

The mayor said valuable lessons were learned from that mess, such as better communication.

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10:30 a.m.

Many people in the Washington region are staying home from work ahead of the approaching snow storm.

Metro spokesman Dan Stessel says that as of 9 a.m. Friday, ridership on the region’s rail lines was down 50 percent. He says riders had taken 37,000 trips this Friday morning compared with 74,000 last Friday.

Metro has said it will end rail service at 11 p.m. Friday. The system will remain closed Saturday and Sunday.

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