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Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Frozen South, South hit by a wintry blast, Could be days before thaw comes
AP – A driver slowly takes his car through a snowy streeet in Matthews, N.C., Monday, Jan. 10, 2011.
Frozen South: Could be days before thaw comes
By PAGE IVEY, Associated Press Jan. 11, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. – It could be days before icy, treacherous conditions improve for areas of the South hit by a wintry blast that sent cars sliding off the road, emptied grocery shelves and had officials nervously watching ice-laden powerlines and tree limbs.
Meanwhile, New York City was about to confront its third snowstorm in less than three weeks, a day after Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration admitted a series of mistakes in its handling of a Christmas weekend blizzard and promised immediate changes. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch from Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon, with the heaviest snowfall expected overnight.
In the South, snow ranging from several inches to more than a foot Sunday and Monday blanketed states from Louisiana to the Carolinas — a region where many cities have only a handful of snow plows, if any. And more misery was on the way: The snow began turning to freezing rain in numerous areas, and low temperatures threatened to turn roads that may have thawed icy overnight.
Freezing rain followed the snow in many spots, turning major highways into ice rinks and coating pine trees and power lines.
The storm shut down most cities and towns, closed many businesses, and canceled most flights at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world's busiest. At least nine people were killed in weather-related traffic accidents.
In South Carolina, the winter storm moved out of the area early Tuesday but left thousands without power.
Most of North Carolina remained under a winter storm warning. Kym Littlejohn was heeding the governor's call for people to stay home.
Conditions were unlikely to improve anytime soon. Temperatures should stay below freezing for days, and more snow is predicted. That means treacherous travel conditions could persist until Wednesday or beyond.
Atlanta, which got 4 to 7 inches, has just eight snow plows. The city hired a fleet of 11 privately run trucks to help spread salt and gravel.
The storm system was expected to spread north to Ohio and could hit the snow-weary Northeast later in the week. A Christmas blizzard dumped more than 2 feet of snow on New York City and other parts of the region, crippling holiday travel and nearly shutting down major cities.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for the Big Apple from Tuesday evening through Wednesday afternoon, calling for the city and its suburbs to get between 6 and 12 inches of snow.
The heaviest snow fell in parts of Tennessee that received as much as 13 inches.
The weather began rolling across the South on Sunday, coating bridges and roads with snow, sleet and freezing rain. The governors of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee declared emergencies. Schools and colleges called off classes for a second day Tuesday.
South Carolina troopers worked nearly 2,000 wrecks Monday, state Highway Patrol Sgt. Kelley Hughes said. More were expected overnight as the slush on major highways was freezing again. Like many southern states, South Carolina has limited equipment to fight frozen roads.
In all, it has about 800 pieces, and that's even using graders to smooth asphalt to push away slush along with snow plows and salt spreaders.
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