A rare white Christmas in parts of the South was complicating life for some travelers as airlines canceled hundreds of flights, while snow was predicted for the nation's capital and travel authorities warned of potentially dangerous roads.
The National Weather Service said the storm could bring 6 to 10 inches of snow to the Washington region, beginning today. The Weather Service was also forecasting possible Sunday snow for the New York and Boston areas, with overnight temperatures in the 20s and wind gusts up to 30 mph.
The Carolinas got their first white Christmas since 1989 as snow began falling Saturday morning in Asheville, N.C., spread to Raleigh by noon and was forecast to stretch to the coast later in the day. In South Carolina, forecasts called for rain turning to snow after dark.
In Nashville, some travelers who expected a smooth trip on Christmas got a rude surprise.
"We were hoping this was going to be a good day to travel," said Heather Bansmer, 36, of Bellingham, Wash.
She and her husband, Shawn Breeding, 40, had planned to return home on separate flights after a visit to Breeding's family in Bowling Green, Ky. However, Breeding's flight through Atlanta got canceled.
Delta Air Lines spokesman Kent Landers said 500 weather-related flight cancellations were planned for Saturday nationwide. That included 300 of the 800 scheduled departures from the Atlanta hub.
Only a few hundred people milled about the cavernous terminals at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, many of them recent arrivals from international flights. Passengers were notified Friday when flights were pre-emptively canceled, so most didn't bother to show up.
Continental Airlines announced Saturday evening that it was canceling 250 flights departing from Newark Liberty International Airport outside New York City.
AirTran spokeswoman Judy Graham-Weaver said Saturday that the carrier had canceled seven Saturday flights and that afternoon flights from Atlanta would be delayed because of required de-icing of planes.