A major winter storm blasted parts of the southeast last night and this morning, bringing over half an inch of freezing rain in some areas and even over 6 inches of sleet (frozen raindrops that often freeze into a thick layer of ice) in one North Carolina town north of Greensboro.

The storm system — the same one that spawned severe thunderstorms across Florida yesterday — wrapped in more cold air than forecasters expected, leading to a much larger ice and snowstorm than originally forecast.

Up to 7 inches of snow and sleet fell across parts of North Carolina and Virginia according to the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, VA, leaving over 300,000 people without power due to heavy ice accretion on trees and power lines.

I was able to witness for myself the incredible sleet accumulation north of Greensboro, NC this morning. In addition to freezing rain, we received over 6 inches of sleet — with areas next to cars and walls seeing piles of sleet almost 10" deep (pictured above) — before temperatures rose enough to allow regular rain to compact it down into a thick sheet of solid ice.

[A quarter inch of ice covers a light post near Greensboro, NC on March 7, 2014. Photo by Dennis Mersereau]

Temperatures are expected to warm up significantly over the weekend and into next week, so the ice shouldn't stick around too long.

[Image by Dennis Mersereau]