(Reuters) - Drivers in North Carolina faced a growing risk on Saturday of roads glazed with ice as a major winter storm drew near, with the National Weather Service warning of more than a foot of snow in the state's mountainous west before the weekend was out.
The snow is due to arrive after dark, with the heaviest falls expected in the early hours of Sunday morning.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who declared a state of emergency on Friday, told residents to finish their food stockpiling and other storm preparations and to avoid unnecessary travel.
"Prepare for DAYS of impact not hours," North Carolina Emergency Management warned residents in a statement. Tens of thousands of homes could lose power, the agency said.
The storm may affect airports including Asheville and Raleigh-Durham International in North Carolina, Lynchburg and Roanoke in Virginia and Greenville-Spartanburg International, South Carolina. Americans Airlines said it would waive change fees for people booked through Charlotte Douglas International, a major regional hub in North Carolina.
Some of North Carolina's roads may disappear under ice up to a quarter of an inch (half a centimeter) thick, the National Weather Service said.
The heaviest snowfall, perhaps knee-height or more, was forecast for the cities of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Lexington. Raleigh, the state capital, faced an uncertain mix of sleet and freezing rain, the National Weather Service said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; Editing by Daniel Wallis)