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Another ice storm causes havoc across the South


ATLANTA (AP) - The second wintry storm in two weeks to hit the Deep South encrusted highways, trees and power lines in ice Wednesday, knocking out electricity to more than 350,000 homes and businesses.

But it didn't wreak the highway havoc in Atlanta that the previous bout of heavy weather did - largely because people learned their lesson the last time and stayed off the roads.

At least nine traffic deaths across the region were blamed on the treacherous weather, and more than 3,100 airline flights nationwide were canceled.

As residents across the South heeded forecasters' unusually dire warnings and hunkered down at home against the onslaught of snow and freezing rain, the storm pushed northward along the Interstate 95 corridor, threatening to bring more than a foot of snow Thursday to the already sick-of-winter mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Forecasters warned of a potentially "catastrophic" storm across the South with more than an inch of ice possible in places. As the day wore on, power outages climbed by the hour and the dreary weather came in waves.

Ice combined with wind gusts up to 30 mph snapped tree limbs and power lines. More than 200,000 homes and businesses lost electricity in Georgia, 130,000 in South Carolina and nearly 30,000 in Louisiana. Some people could be in the dark for days.

In Atlanta, which was caught unprepared by the last storm, streets and highways were largely deserted this time. Before the first drop of sleet even fell, area schools announced they would be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Many businesses in the corporate capital of the South shut down, too.

The scene was markedly different from the one Jan. 28, when thousands of children were stranded all night in schools by less than 3 inches of snow and countless drivers abandoned their cars after getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours and hours.

However, heavy afternoon traffic was reported in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.

Caitlin Palmieri drove two blocks from her job at a bread store in downtown Raleigh before getting stuck. Two men helped her park her car, and she walked back to work.

"It seemed like every other car was getting stuck, fishtailing, trying to move forward," she said.

Across the region, those who had power passed the time watching movies or surfing the Internet. Matt Altmix walked his Great Dane, Stella, in Atlanta because "even in the snow, you still have to do your business."

"I think some folks would even say they were a little trigger-happy to go ahead and cancel schools yesterday, as well as do all the preparation they did," Altmix said. "But it's justified."

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who was widely criticized over his handling of the last storm, sounded an upbeat note this time.

"Thanks to the people of Georgia. You have shown your character," he said.

Deal said four students, ages 11 to 18, from the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon were back home in metro Atlanta after hitching a ride with the Georgia National Guard before the worst of the storm hit. Their parents were unable to make the drive, which is 80 or 90 miles one way.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory urged people to charge their cellphones and find batteries for radios and flashlights because the storm could bring nearly a foot of snow in places such as Charlotte.

"Stay smart. Don't put your stupid hat on at this point in time. Protect yourself. Protect your family. Protect your neighbors," McCrory said.

Kathy Davies Muzzey of Wilmington, N.C., said she hid the car keys from her husband, John, on Tuesday night because he was thinking about driving to Chapel Hill for the Duke-UNC basketball game. He has missed only two games between the rivals since he left school in the late 1960s.

"He's a fanatic - an absolute fanatic," she said.

For the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, the heavy weather was the latest in an unending drumbeat of storms that have depleted cities' salt supplies and caused school systems to run out of snow days.

The nation's capital could get up to 8 inches of snow. New York City could see 6 inches. Other sections of eastern New York were expecting 10 to 14 inches.

In Atlanta, stinging drops of sleet fell and windshields were crusted over with ice. Slushy sidewalks made even short walks treacherous. One emergency crew had to pull over to wait out the falling snow before slowly making its way back to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency's operations center.

In normally busy downtown areas, almost every business was closed except for a pharmacy.

Amy Cuzzort, who spent six hours in her car during the traffic standstill of January's storm, said she would spend this one at home, "doing chores, watching movies - creepy movies, 'The Shining'" - about a writer who goes mad while trapped in a hotel during a snowstorm.

In an warning issued early Wednesday, National Weather Service called the storm "catastrophic ... crippling ... paralyzing ... choose your adjective."

Meteorologist Eli Jacks noted that three-quarters of an inch of ice would be catastrophic anywhere.

However, the South is particularly vulnerable: Many trees are allowed to hang over power lines for the simple reason that people don't normally have to worry about ice and snow snapping off limbs.

Three people were killed when an ambulance careened off an icy West Texas road and caught fire. A chain-reaction crash shut down the four-lane Mississippi River bridge on Interstate 20 at Vicksburg, Miss., and a tanker leaked a corrosive liquid into the river. No one was injured.

On Tuesday, four people died in weather-related traffic accidents in North Texas, including a Dallas firefighter who was knocked from an I-20 ramp and fell 50 feet. In Mississippi, two traffic deaths were reported.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
Marcia February 12 2014 at 2:01 PM

Thankful, I am.

I am living in an area where it is 50F ~ 70F degrees each and every day. No need for heat or a/c, nevermind a snow plow.

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1 reply
alberter65 Marcia February 12 2014 at 2:43 PM

Marcia, where do you live?

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pj512 February 12 2014 at 6:36 PM

I live in a northwestern Atlanta suburb and we have had everything today. Snow, freezing rain and sleet. Luckily our power hasn't gone out, but I was prepared. Firewood, moved the gas grill into the carport, bought food we could cook on the grill, and then my brother comes driving up yesterday with a generator. We have a lot of pine trees in the yard, so I've been a little worried about them.

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1 reply
kenbushway pj512 February 12 2014 at 6:41 PM

Just don't use the grill to warm your house.

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2 replies
Roberta kenbushway February 12 2014 at 7:19 PM

We southeners are not ignorant but if you were not smarting off, thanks.

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pj512 kenbushway February 12 2014 at 9:31 PM

We did decide if we needed to, we could fire it up to warm our hands! But so far, our power has stayed on. And I grilled hamburgers earlier while it was sleeting and snowing. Why let inclement weather stop you from enjoying life!

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wittlief February 12 2014 at 4:08 PM

IF you have to go out and walk in the ice
put a few short sheet metal screws into the soles of your boots
screw them into the sole from the bottom (not from the inside)
that's what ice fishermen use, the hex headed version of sheet metal screws

1/4" to 3/8" should work good for boots.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
wittlief wittlief February 12 2014 at 4:08 PM

and needless to say, take them off before you walk around in your house........

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3 replies
kimcrdr February 12 2014 at 4:19 PM

Heres hoping everyone in that storms path stays warm, We went two weeks without power last time we had an ice storm, it is miserable, Goodluck to all, you will eventually thaw out!!

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2 replies
ricksgcoat kimcrdr February 12 2014 at 4:49 PM

Thank you for your kind words. Governor Deal, Mayor Reed, Georgia State Patrol, Georgia Power, DOT and others have done an outstanding job this time. I'm sitting at home waiting for the thaw.

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MIKE HALL kimcrdr February 12 2014 at 6:08 PM

thank you so much for the kind words.

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oldalto February 12 2014 at 4:30 PM

I loved the photos in the slideshow above with the kids making a snowman. At least somebody gets to have a little fun.

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Curt's Stuff February 12 2014 at 4:31 PM

Back to back winter storms in Atlanta??

Makes you wonder if there isn't some sort of global weather change taking place.

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3 replies
delmail333 February 12 2014 at 4:36 PM

I'm in SC right now & Wanted to say thanks to those of you sending well wish's !, No we are not prepared for Ice weather like this & Thank God the Power is still on ! .
I spent a lot of time this past summer cutting firewood as I had a feeling this was going to be a rough Winter for SC, It is coming in very handy right now ! .
I bought a Generator about 10 or 12 years ago & to this day it has never even been started up, But if the weather gets much worse I'll be getting it out .
Also I have Family in NY I even they have said how bad it has been up there this year & more on the way .
Here is Hoping ALL of you are OK !

Flag Reply +7 rate up
kayciaccio February 12 2014 at 4:37 PM

My heart goes out to anyone getting hit with this storm!!

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2 replies
vtmilitia kayciaccio February 12 2014 at 4:53 PM

Pray for S. Vt. we're due for a foot of snow and wind. Let's see,4wd 3/4 ton truck gassed, check. 4wd one ton gassed, check, 1959 Willys with plow gassed, check. 18,000 watts worth of generators ready to go, check. Freezer stuffed with venison and rabbit check. I'm not seeing an issue here.

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1 reply
J E KOLASH vtmilitia February 12 2014 at 5:40 PM

Redneck moonshine jug filled and ready..check

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MIKE HALL kayciaccio February 12 2014 at 6:06 PM

thank you for being civil ,too many clowns at home in mommies basement , writing and wishing such bad luck on the people in the south.

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keithdelliott February 12 2014 at 9:16 PM

Just FYI - We in the "northeast" are not so "already sick-of-winter". Snow is normal in the winter in New England, as is ice. Snow in New England is like june bugs in Georgia. However, I'm sure the South is "already sick-of-this-winter." Stay warm... it will melt soon. It always does.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
woodmeistera1 February 12 2014 at 3:33 PM

Being without electricity for 7 days can be considered catastropic when its 20 degrees. Happened to us in '06. Not the cozy movie and munchie environment I am hearing about.

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