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Snow Storms Pelt East Coast

The first real winter storm of the season swept up the East Coast on Friday, clogging roads with a daunting mixture of snow, sleet and slush.

The storm -- which is re-developing off the coast as a nor-easter -- is now moving north. As much as 14 inches of snow could fall on sections of New Jersey before it's all over. As a result, dozens of schools districts have closed early to avoid the worst.

"We're looking at accumulations running in the neighborhood of two to four inches, maybe a little bit more in the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic states," said CBS News Meteorologist George Cullen. "However, very heavy snow will be developing later in the Northeast, continuing throughout the weekend where we may see blizzard conditions developing across coastal sections of New England."

North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia have been hit with more than six inches of snow and ice so far, and more is on the way.

In Maryland, where up to 8 inches of snow fell, a steady downfall of snow and sleet closed schools and clogged rush hour traffic Friday as state road crews struggled to keep major arteries clear.

"It wasn't that bad, so long as I took my time and stayed out of the way of some of the nuts on the road," said Jamaal Charleston, a clerk at the Long Reach Village Safeway in Columbia, Md.

Closer to Washington, CBS News Correspondent Barry Bagnato agreed it was not an unmanageable situation. "Crews have been out for hours knowing this storm was coming," he said. The roads were pretty much clear, except in certain neighborhoods.

The combination of wet snow, sleet and rain that pelted the Philadelphia area caused so many fender-benders Friday that one radio traffic reporter called it "a $500 deductible day."

"It is snowing very heavily and there's a cover of snow and slush and a little bit of ice now," reports CBS radio station KYW's Tony Hanson on the Black Horse Pike in southern New Jersey.

The storm system had already brought a mixture of ice, freezing rain, sleet and snow in mountain regions of North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia on Thursday. At least one death was blamed on the storm, that of a 23-year-old man who was killed in an accident on a slick road in Virginia.

The storm was sweeping through West Virginia Friday, glazing roads and tree limbs with treacherous ice that killed one man and likely to leave as much as 14 inches of snow in the state's eastern mountains.

Ice, freezing rain, sleet and snow made travel slippery across much of the state, with the most severe weather in the eastern mountains, the Greenbrier Valley and the Eastern Panhandle.

Snow, rain and ice fell Thursday across North Carolina, but the lights remained on as the state escaped a reprise of the devastating ice storm of one year earlier.

Three to 5 inches of snow fell across most of the western mountains, where schools closed from Asheville west to the Tennessee border. Further east, a cold rain fell in Charlotte and there was some ice buildup in the Hickory area.

But nothing fell that rivaled the inch-thick ice that sent tree limbs crashing down on power lines one year ago, plunging 1.8 million electricity customers into darkness.

In Manassas, Va., CBS Radio affiliate WTOP's Kristy King reports the slushy mixture on the roads was treacherous.

"I've seen two wipeouts, with one truck turned around facing traffic, another truck bumped all the way up against the wall," she said.

Despite temperatures that could approach freezing Friday night, Florida also has to keep an eye on a late-forming tropical storm.

Odette was the first recorded tropical storm to form in the Caribbean Sea in the month of December, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. Hurricane season officially ended Nov. 30.

"The only thing unusual about this storm is that is that it formed so late," said Stacy Stewart, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center.

Tropical Storm Odette strengthened slightly in the Caribbean Sea Friday, heading toward the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and other islands, forecasters said. However, it was not expected to reach hurricane strength.

There was also bad weather in the Pacific Northwest. Winds gusting as high as 80 mph cut power to more than 193,000 people and businesses Thursday in Western Washington. One person was seriously injured when a tree fell on a car.

"Because of the amount of damage and the trees in the roadways, it's probably going to be days before we get the lights back on to all of our customers," said Dorothy Bracken, spokeswoman for Puget Sound Energy, which saw 187,000 customers lose power at the peak of the outage.

The weather service issued a high wind warning into Saturday morning for western Washington.

As the eastern storm system churned northward, winter storm warnings or watches were in effect as far north as New Hampshire and Maine, where snow falls were predicted for up to 20 inches or more.

In New Jersey, up to 14 inches of snow was forecast, with the worst of the snowfall expected to come late Friday and early Saturday. Forecasters in Massachusetts predicted about 6 inches of snow would fall through Sunday morning.

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