Wet snow and high winds spinning off the edge of superstorm Sandy spread blizzard conditions over parts of West Virginia and neighboring Appalachian states Tuesday, shutting one interstate as trucks and cars bogged down and knocking out power to many.
The National Weather Service said a foot and more of snow was reported in lower elevations of West Virginia, where most towns and roads are. High elevations in the mountains were getting more than two feet and a blizzard warning for parts of the state was in effect until Wednesday afternoon.
More than 205,000 customers in West Virginia were without power early Tuesday. In Elkins, a city of about 7,000 people, power went out across town before dawn and the only lights were from passing snow plows as heavy, wet flakes piled up to about 8 inches.
Authorities closed more than 45 miles of Interstate 68 on either side of the West Virginia-Maryland state line because of blizzard conditions and stuck cars.
More than 30 other highways and roads were closed in West Virginia by snow, ice, high water, and downed trees and power lines. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Leslie Fitzwater said. Schools were closed in at least 39 counties.
On the Maryland side of I-68, crews were trying to remove several tractor-trailers stuck on the highway. Four or five passenger vehicles also were abandoned in the median, State Highway Administration spokeswoman Kelly Boulware said.
The higher elevations in western parts of Maryland received more than a foot of snow since Monday afternoon, and it was still snowing Tuesday before dawn, Boulware said.
Police rescued several stranded motorists on the interstate in West Virginia, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Officials in West Virginia said a woman was killed Monday in a storm-related traffic accident. A spokeswoman for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said about 5 inches of snow had fallen in the area of Tucker County where the crash occurred, making road conditions treacherous.
A significant winter storm continued in northeast Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains, where the National Weather Service forecast continuing snow showers over the higher elevations through Wednesday morning.