Storm: 2 dead, several hurt as bus overturns near Memphis


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A tour bus overturned on an icy highway ramp south of Memphis on Wednesday, leaving two people dead and several others injured as a pre-winter storm blasted parts of the South with an early shot of sleet, light snow and freezing temperatures.

DeSoto County sheriff's deputy Alex Coker said the bus carrying about 50 people overturned just after midday in that northern Mississippi county near Memphis, Tennessee.

The county coroner, Josh Pounders, said two people were confirmed dead at the scene where Interstate 269 meets with Interstate 22 on the outskirts of that west Tennessee city. The injured were taken to hospitals, some in critical condition, Pounders said.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation reported icing on roads and bridges in 10 north Mississippi counties from the storm, which prompted school closings in west Tennessee and postponed by a day the planned launch of an unmanned cargo rocket in Virginia as the storm took aim at the South.

After days of heavy rain and storms along a cold front, flurries left a thin layer of snow atop vehicles in western Mississippi overnight, and a Mississippi River bridge turned white in Greenville, Mississippi. Light snow or freezing rain was possible as far south as northwest Alabama, officials said, but no accumulation was expected there.

The National Weather Service issued a freeze warning for Louisiana through western Alabama as far south as the Gulf Coast from Wednesday night into Thursday. Forecasters say temperatures could drop into the upper 20s (- 6 Celsius).

A flash flood watch remained in effect for north Georgia and the Carolinas, which forecaster say could get another 3 inches (8 centimeters) of rain.

With wind chills in New Orleans predicted to drop as low as 29 degrees (-1 Celsius), officials activated the city's "freeze plan" Wednesday, arranging for free shelter at several locations for homeless people.

There was a different problem northeast of Atlanta, where officials were testing creek water after an estimated 188,000 gallons (710,000 liters) of storm runoff and sewage spilled out of a manhole in Forsyth County on Monday because of heavy rains.