Winter-like weather smacks South, fierce winds hit NYC marathon

(CNN) -- Travelers along I-20 in South Carolina looked up in disbelief and amazement Saturday as white flakes fell from the sky.

And when they looked ahead they saw red -- red taillights.

The earliest-ever snow in Columbia and that area of the Palmetto State had traffic backed up for hours in several spots.

"(I) was just sitting and waiting, and not knowing (how much snow would fall) was the worst," Steven Crouch told CNN affiliate WIS.

The station reported that it usually doesn't freeze in Columbia until November 10. Hundreds of customers were without power, WIS said.

On Saturday, it only snowed a trace, according to the National Weather Service, but the slick conditions hampered travel.

In other parts of the South, there was a lot more precipitation. Near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, there was 22 inches of snow, while areas around Asheville, North Carolina, received 5 inches.

And man, was it cold -- at least for this time of year. It was a record low 41 in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Sunday. There was a hard freeze warning from Louisiana to North Carolina, and north to Ohio and Pennsylvania. Some parts of Florida were under frost advisories or freeze watches.

The good news is, the cold spell should be short, CNN meteorologist Todd Borek said. Temperatures should moderate toward season averages beginning Monday, he said.

Runners at the New York City Marathon are used to chilly temps, but the wind was terrible Sunday, with many gusts of more than 40 mph.

One gust in Westchester County was recorded at 55 mph, the National Weather Service in New York said on Twitter.

The culprit was a high-pressure system that was dragging air from Canada over the eastern half of the United States, Borek said.