Five dead, travel snarled as winter storms lash Southeast and West

Five people have died and thousands were without power as a powerful winter storm continued to sweep across the U.S. and brought snow and ice to a swath of the Southeast, while the winter blast delayed flights in Philadelphia and New York City.

In the West, parts of northern California and Nevada were filling sandbags as an "atmospheric river" threatened to dump very heavy rains and cause flooding Sunday. More than half of California was under flash flood watches.

Vehicle crashes in Georgia and Kentucky on Saturday killed two people, a Maine man died in a Friday crash with a snowplow and a third person died in a Kentucky crash on Thursday, officials said. A tree felled by high winds in Oregon fell on an 8-year-old on Tuesday, killing her.

In Connecticut, a stretch of a major highway was closed for hours Saturday after a 21-car pileup and other crashes, state police said. No serious injuries were reported.

The ice and freezing overnight temperatures prompted evoked memories of past winter storms in the South, like one in 2014 that stranded thousands of drivers on paralyzed interstates around Atlanta and elsewhere.

"If I tell you anything it would be stay home," North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Saturday. "Do not go out and drive on the roads unless you absolutely have to."

RELATED: Winter weather 2016-2017

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Winter weather 2016-2017 -- snow, ice and sleet
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Winter weather 2016-2017 -- snow, ice and sleet

Dogs walk through the snow during a spring snow storm in Boston, Massachusetts April 4, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

People walk through Times Square during a snow storm on January 7, 2017 in New York City.

(Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

A woman walks in the snow at Times Square in New York U.S., January 31, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

A man sweeps the street after snow fell in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 17, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kevin Coombs)

A young child smiles while catching snow flakes on his tongue during snow flurries in New York, U.S., January 31, 2017.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Semi-truck driver Don Kerns removes chains from his truck during record rain and snow outside Lakeview, Oregon, U.S., January 5, 2017.

(REUTERS/Jim Urquhart)

A snowman stands in Times Square following a morning snow in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 17, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

A man skis under a snowfall in Central Park during a winter storm on January 7, 2017 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman walks through snow as it falls in New York City, U.S., January 31, 2017.

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

A general view of snow covered seats at New Era Field before a game between the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

(Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

Snow falls in the streets of Chicago, United States on December 11, 2016.

(Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Siblings (L-R) Leo, Max and Zoe Zavrachy, on vacation from Ireland, ride down a snow covered hill on Boston Common during a snow storm on the second day of spring in Boston, Massachusetts March 21, 2016.


(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

A person crosses Delancey Street during morning snow in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 17, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

A woman walks through snow as it falls in New York, U.S., January 31, 2017.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

A worker clears the snow from the crosswalk in Times Square, Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 17, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

A person walks over the Brooklyn Bridge during morning snow in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 17, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

Snow is cleared from the Donner Pass rest area at Donner Pass summit during a winter storm, near Truckee, California, U.S. January 7, 2017.

(Bob Strong / Reuters)

People walk under a snowfall as they visit Central Park during a Winter storm on January 7, 2017 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

People walk under a snowfall as they visit Central Park during a winter storm on January 7, 2017 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Children play under a snowfall in Central Park during a winter storm on January 7, 2017 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman falls down as people walk under a snowfall as they visit Central Park during a winter storm on January 7, 2017 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

People walk amid a snowfall in Central Park during a Winter storm on January 7, 2017 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A snow boarder prepares his gear at the Mount Rose Highway summit during a winter storm near Incline Village, Nevada, U.S., January 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Bob Strong)

Motorists travel through heavy snow on the Mount Rose Highway during a winter storm near Incline Village, Nevada, U.S., January 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Bob Strong)

A person prepares to throw a snowball at their companion during a winter snow storm in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S. January 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Marine One blows up a cloud of snow as it lands on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Two dogs play in the snow during a winter snow storm in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S. January 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

A pedestrian walks through the snow during a winter storm in Medford, Massachusetts, U.S. January 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

People walk through Central Park during a snow storm in New York City, U.S. January 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Stephanie Keith)

People walk through Central Park during a snow storm on January 7, 2017 in New York City.

(Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

A woman plays under a snowfall in Central Park during a winter storm on January 7, 2017 in New York.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

People walk through Times Square during a snow storm on January 7, 2017 in New York City.

(Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

People walk along The Mall in Central Park during a snow storm on January 7, 2017 in New York City.

(Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

A snowboarder rides over a ridge of snow in the afternoon sunlight on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of year at Hunter Mountain ski area in Hunter, New York, U.S., December 21, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mine Segar)

People walk through Central Park following morning snow in Manhattan, New York City, U.S. December 17, 2016.

(REUTERS/Andrew Kelly)

A young Native American man rides his horse through the snow near the Oceti Sakowin camp as "water protectors" continue to demonstrate against plans to pass the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, U.S., December 4, 2016.

(REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Snow falls in the streets of Chicago, United States on December 11, 2016.

(Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Footsteps can be seen on a recently cleared sidewalk during a spring snow storm in Boston, Massachusetts April 4, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

A pedestrian crosses the road during a snow storm on the second day of spring in Boston, Massachusetts March 21, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

Snow falls in the streets of Chicago, United States on December 11, 2016.

(Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A woman with an umbrella walks through the snow during a spring snow storm in Boston, Massachusetts April 4, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

A cyclist passes pedestrians on a sidewalk on 12th Avenue in the Manhattan borough of New York City as snow falls February 15, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

A woman stands on a snow covered path at Central Park in New York, U.S., January 6, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

Snow falls in the streets of Chicago, United States on December 11, 2016.

(Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 11: Snow falls in the streets of Chicago, United States on December 11, 2016. (Photo by Bilgin Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A man walks in the snow at Times Square in New York U.S., January 31, 2017.

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

New England Patriots fans are seen standing in the snow, sleet, and freezing rain in anticipation of seeing their team at city hall plaza during Super Bowl LI victory parade in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., February 7, 2017.

(REUTERS/Barry Chin/Pool)

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 13: A woman and her grandchilden sled on Boston Common following a winter storm February 13, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Another winter storm has brought heavy snow and wind to the region. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 13: A woman feeds pigeons near the Boston Common following a winter storm February 13, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Another winter storm has brought heavy snow and wind to the region. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 13: A worker uses a tractor to plow the sidewalks around the Boston Common following a winter storm February 13, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Another winter storm has brought heavy snow and wind to the region. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
LYNNFIELD, MA - FEBRUARY 13: A snow plow works to widen a street during a snow storm February 13, 2017 in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. Another winter storm has brought heavy snow and wind to the region. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 12: Ross Wilson, 9, of Boston and his brother, Sam, 7, take advantage of the snow as they sled down a hill on the Boston Common in Boston on Feb. 12, 2017. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
QUINCY, MA - FEBRUARY 9: An owl toughs out the blizzard sweeping through the region on a branch in the Squantum neighborhood of Quincy, MA on Feb. 9, 2017. (Photo by Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
QUINCY, MA - FEBRUARY 9: Snow and ice coat the window of an inbound MBTA Red Line train at Quincy Central station in Quincy, MA on Feb. 9, 2017. MBTA trains kept running as a blizzard swept through the region. (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Pedestrians walk up a street on Beacon Hill during white-out, blizzard-like conditions in a winter nor'easter snow storm in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. February 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Residents dig out following a winter snow storm in the Boston suburb of Wakefield, Massachusetts, U.S. February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Surfers take advantage of wind and waves from a winter snow storm in Gloucester, Massachusetts, U.S. February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
A man clears snow off his vehicle following a winter snow storm in Somerville, Massachusetts, U.S. February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
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The Federal Aviation Administration ordered a temporary ground stop at Philadelphia's airport Saturday due to ice and snow, and major delays were reported at New York City-area airports.

A little more than 5 ½ inches of snow was recorded at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport and LaGuardia saw just over 4 ½ inches of snow by Saturday evening, the National Weather Service said.

It was treacherous travel in North Carolina, with the state Highway Patrol reporting 260 wrecks during the storm. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area there were 46 crashes with injuries from 10 p.m. Friday into around noon Saturday, EMS said.

Across the state more than 9,000 customers were without power as of Saturday afternoon, down from 16,000, the state Department of Public Safety said.

In Virginia, state troopers responded to 527 crashes and helped 686 stuck drivers by Saturday evening. "Give 'em a rest. Stay home!" Virginia State Police said in a Twitter message to drivers.

Boston's mayor warned earlier Saturday of up to a foot of snow; by just after 8 p.m. nearly 6 inches was recorded in the northeast section of the city, the weather service said, although the city of Weymouth to the southeast did reach a foot by then.

"It does wrap up as we go into Sunday, but leaves behind bitterly cold air" according to Weather Channel meteorologist Danielle Banks.

Low temperatures of 5 to 10 degrees — and with a wind chill near zero — had been forecast for Richmond, Virginia, overnight.

Lows of 15 degrees were forecast for New York City on Sunday; a low of 14 degrees were forecast for Philadelphia; and 15 degree low was eyed for Washington, D.C. In Raleigh, North Carolina, a high of 27 degrees during the day and a low of just 2 degrees at night was forecast.

Out West, another storm prompted winter storm warnings and advisories for a swath from eastern Washington and much of Oregon to Idaho, northern Nevada and northwestern Utah.

Reno, Nevada, prepared for floods and state of emergency were declared in Washoe, Douglas, Storey and Lyon counties, NBC affiliate KRNV reported.

Yosemite National Park closed access to Yosemite Valley in anticipation of expected flooding of the Merced River Sunday. The Generals Highway into Sequoia National Park was closed due to rock slides and flooding, cutting off access to the big trees.

A forecast of dangerous snow and ice in Oregon prompted a home Portland Trailblazers basketball game and a University of Portland men's college basketball game against Gonzaga to be postponed.

More than 100 flights into or out of Portland's airport Sunday were canceled, the airport said Saturday night. In Eugene in southern Oregon, 4 1/2 inches of snow fell Saturday, the National Weather Service said.

In California's Bay Area, residents were hunkering down for expected heavy rains forecast for Sunday. Flash flood watches were in place for the San Francisco and Montery Bay region through Sunday night and officials set up sand bag locations.

"We're giving them a shovel and the sand and showing them how to fill them up,'' Jason Hoppin, a Santa Cruz County spokesman, told NBC Bay Area. "We haven't seen rain like this in a long time.''

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