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ATLANTA (AP) - A blast of freezing precipitation expected to arrive Tuesday could scatter snow and ice across the Deep South, prompting officials from New Orleans to North Carolina to ready road crews and close some schools.
Popular warm-weather tourist destinations including Charleston, S.C., Savannah, Ga., Pensacola, Fla., and New Orleans were expecting ice and even snow - both rare occurrences in places that seldom even see prolonged sub-freezing temperatures.
In coastal Charleston, for instance, it was a balmy 62 degrees Monday. But the approaching weather led the College of Charleston to cancel classes Tuesday as a "precautionary measure." There was a forecast of rain, and sleet in the late afternoon, with the first snow expected Wednesday morning.
Much of Georgia was placed under a winter storm watch for Tuesday and Wednesday. While some areas could see as much as 3 inches of snow, the bigger concern with plummeting temperatures was ice.
"The snowfall amounts are going to matter very little in this situation because of the ice potential," said Jason Deese, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga. "Some parts of the state may end up seeing the greatest impact just because they get more ice than snow."
Delta Air Lines officials say more than 1,800 flights have been canceled ahead of a winter storm expected to pelt areas of the Southeast with sleet and snow. Delta spokeswoman Betsy Talton says 1,850 flights have been canceled system-wide Tuesday beginning at 11 a.m. Of that number, Talton says 840 flights from Atlanta have been affected.
The airline is offering travelers the opportunity to make one-time changes to their tickets without a fee if they're traveling through Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, the Carolinas and Texas. Delta officials expected service to be affected between Jan. 28 and 29, and replacement tickets must be reissued by Feb. 1.
Forecasters were predicting snow and ice from Texas to the Carolinas by mid-week as precipitation moving in from the south met with cold air already chilling the region.
In the Carolinas, many school districts were running on half-day schedules Tuesday so students could head home before the worst of the storm system hit. In North Carolina's Outer Banks, barrier islands that are popular with tourists during the warm seasons, residents were bracing for as much as 8 inches of snow.
Several inches also were expected in South Carolina, where the state department of transportation planned to send crews out Tuesday to treat roads with sand and brine to ease any troubles caused by ice.
Elsewhere, some schools and government offices already closed in Mississippi ahead of the rare snow event.
"This is a very dangerous situation because snow and ice are very rare for extreme southern Mississippi," Robert Latham, executive director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said in a news release. "We need everyone to have an emergency plan together for this."
In Louisiana, state Public Service Commission Chairman Eric Skrmetta told residents to be prepared by stocking up with food, fueling cars and making sure to have cash on hand, calling the icy forecast for the next couple of days "decidedly grim."
Donna Vidrine, a cashier at Simcoe Food World in Lafayette, said her store was already busy Monday.
"They're buying things like canned goods - nonperishable items - and bottles of water and diapers for their baby," she said.
If you don't have to go out in the ice and snow, stay home. If everyone is out and something happens the people needed to help are in danger also! Take Care out there! Slow down
The good news about here up north is that we know that spring is on the way and that first 65 degree sunshine day is going to feel sooooooo good. just got to tough it out a few more months :-)
We lived in New Jersey. My Mon knew spring was on schedule when she saw a Robin on her birthday. March 12.
Very Nice here in the south West.... 70's blue sky and lots of Sun.
My heart pumpith purple panther pee.... spend a few minutes up here in Northern Michigan and see how that feels..... :^)
SW Michigan's no treat either. Already have more snow than a usual season! 2-3 feet on the level and drifts taller than my pickup.
doing fine down here in costa rica whats a little snow and ice try living in buffalo yeah i really go south for the winter
I live in Cobb County, GA, which is a suburb of Atlanta. It is a holy mess here right now. Our school system didn't close the schools because we were in just an advisory mode last night. Now, we've got office people and school kids trying to get home and the roads are covered. I-75 is at a standstill. This is not the worst case scenario because we didn't get ice first. But the more cars there are on the road and the temps staying in the 20's and teens, the worst it will get. I hope and pray that everybody will make it to their destination safely.
Be safew down there. Welcome to winter in NY!
Cobb Co is a mess on a good day. I live on the south side. Roads aren't too bad yet but if this keeps up all day as predicted, they will be. Our schools were closed as of last night.
Has anyone noticed they are calling it Climate change instead of either Global Warming or Cooling now.
I've noticed, it seems they have had to change the name because so many idiots can't understand how "global warming" can cause extreme cold weather. In other words they had to "dumb it down".
I wonder what the total effect on climate temperature will be after this years totals are in.
My husband & I live in WV where we are used to this stuff. Nevertheless, I can't wait for spring. We have had more than enough of our share of snow.
Good, go down south.....stay away from Mass. We've had enough already. Any day up here without snow is a good day.
Snow, what is that?From Palm Beach
"Snow, what is that?"YOU'LL FIND OUT! Good luck, and don't give yourself a heart attack while you shovel it!