Cold wave leaves thousands without power in US

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LOUISVILLE More than 300,000 homes and businesses were without power early on Friday as a weather system blamed for five deaths in the South moved into the northeastern United States. The outages matched states that were under high wind and winter weather advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Forecasters warned that the storm system could bring gusts of up to 60 mph (97 kph) into New England. Falling trees damaged homes and power lines, cutting electricity in places around the region as the weather blew through. North and South Carolina and Virginia had the most customers without electricity on Friday, according to poweroutages.us. Tornadoes may have touched down near the nation’s capital on Friday. National Weather Service meteorologist Isha Renta said that investigators are reviewing radar data and assessing damage in Virginias Loudoun County as well as the Maryland counties of Carroll, Frederick and Montgomery to confirm this. As much as 4 inches of snow fell overnight in Ohio, part of a band of snowy weather stretching from Tennessee to Maine. Blowing snow contributed to several accidents in the Akron area, and the Ohio Department of Transportation urged people to make room for nearly 1,300 state crews working to improve the icy conditions. Earlier, the weather system destroyed mobile homes in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, caused mudslides in Tennessee and Kentucky and flooded communities that shoulder waterways across the Appalachian region, where the weather service warned of a continuing risk of flooding. The Tennessee Valley Authority warned that people residing near rivers and lakes should prepare for rapidly changing water levels. The TVA is managing rising water behind 49 dams to avert major flooding, but with more rain expected next week, the agency may have to release water downstream, said James Everett, senior manager of the TVA’s river forecast center in Knoxville, Tennessee.—AP