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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.

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panhandle98 February 13 2014 at 7:14 AM

65 in Sochi 28 Ice and Snow in Hampton, GA. Global Warming my Foot.

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JOE February 12 2014 at 10:57 PM

Don't get the clue why you guys live in the cold part of the country...masager42 just wrote a novel on preparation. Must be bored to death & trying to generate some heat.

Enjoy the Ice & Snow "Yau'll"

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ascha79846 February 12 2014 at 10:48 PM

In the Midwest we are rightfully equipped to handle this kind of stuff, but an ice storm even here is nothing to mess with. Raleigh should have taken the example of Atlanta's last experience and heeded the warning. How many of those idiots on the road actually had to be there. You wanna play this game then pay for the equipment to handle it.

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jcreitz23 February 12 2014 at 10:54 PM

Always starts off good.......

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cvsats09 February 12 2014 at 10:41 PM

It's finally gotten down below 0 up here in Anchorage, Alaska. Maybe everyone should take a lesson from us. Put on studded snow tires, or chain them up, and go at least five miles per hour slower than the posted speed if you have to travel on the highways. Make sure that your highway department has plenty of time to clear the streets before trying to travel on them. If the snow is up to your bumper, then stay home until they are cleared. We still have idiots up here that think they can drive like it's summer time, and they soon learn after they've done a ditch dive, or slammed into a few tree's, that their vehicles don't stick to the road like they do in the summer time.

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Jim and Sandy February 12 2014 at 10:41 PM

Weather.gov 3 inches of snow......... If you like your "catastrophe" you can keep your "catastrophe" LOL

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rspreier February 12 2014 at 10:39 PM

Does this mean that global warming is the problem or it doesn't exist? The Envionazis will find some way to spin this as either a result or a symptom, which it is neither because global warming is a complete fallacy.

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eriesloop1 February 12 2014 at 10:46 PM

That you Rush? Still just bloated and dim.

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sandyherby February 12 2014 at 10:38 PM

hi there

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mesager42 February 12 2014 at 10:38 PM

I don't care where you live. There's no excuse for not being prepared for power outages due to storms any time of year.

Gas up your vehicle while the weather is still good before the onslaught. Don't go out when the bad weather is starting to take place to pick up stuff or gas up your vehicle.

Have food that doesn't have to be refrigerated or cooked that can be eaten & have manual can openers (no electricity = no electric can opener) - tuna fish (small cans), peanut butter, boil up some eggs (that will keep in the cold if the electricity goes out), sardines, SPAM, melons, apples, bananas, hot dogs, buns, bread, packs of mayo like restaurants give out, mustard, catsup, jelly, jam, cookies, candy bars, nuts, instant coffee, instant tea, Kool Aid, powdered milk, Carnation Instant Breakfasts to use with powdered milk, Nestle Quick to use with powdered milk, individual juices servings like V8 that don't need refrigeration, dried cereal (can use powdered milk), beef jerky, canned pork & beans, canned fruit, or anything else canned that can be eaten cold without having to heat up. Sanitary wipes & disinfectant wipes for bathroom, hands, kitchen. Paper towels, disposible paper plates, bowls, cups, and plastic cutlery. Extra pet food & treats.

An electric generator can run a microwave or a refrigerator, gasoline for the generator and gas for a BBQ grill. Battery mini candles for night lighting to see to walk around without having to use expensive flashlight batteries. NOAA all hazard weather radio and a normal radio that runs on batteries. Car chargers for cell phones if you don't have a land line with a corded phone that stays online if cell towers go down. Extra batteries for cameras to photograph damages to property or take some scenic shots.

In a pinch, outdoor solar walkway or driveway lights can be brought inside during the night for lighting and put back out to be recharged during the day. Put them in a vase or a plant pot with soil in the house for indoor night use.

Cold Weather-rated Sleeping bags. A few yards of fleece from a fabric store for use as extra blankets.

For entertainment without power - board games, playing cards, or books and magazines. Stock up from the local library before the power goes out. For young kids - Legos and computer paper with crayons. Have a musical instrument like an acoustic guitar, harmonica - dig it out and compose the "Stormy Weather Blues." If a group of neighbors have instruments, then get together beat on drums, and start an impromptu rock or blues group.

It's not rocket science. You're just roughing it by camping in your house until the power comes back on. It can be done.

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madkono February 12 2014 at 10:43 PM

why should anyone listen to your sensible thoughts, when we have "big government" to help and regulate our lives!!!

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Jim and Sandy February 12 2014 at 10:37 PM

THE SKY IS FALLING!!!! So far, we've had a "catastrophic" 3-4 inches of snow.

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corey February 12 2014 at 10:42 PM

And in the south a 60 mph tropical storm is an "inconvenience" while if one hit vermont (if they could) it would be "catastrophic." Keep in mid that it's an ice storm producing 1 inch of ice, which is much more dangerous than 2 feet of snow.

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joyceand February 12 2014 at 10:36 PM

Winter weather isn't fun, y'all.

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