Snowstorm, deep freeze leaves 4 dead in US South

AUSTIN, Texas, Jan 17 (Reuters) - A winter storm that caused at least four deaths in the U.S. South on Wednesday brought record low temperatures to parts of the region, where it coated roads with ice, snapped power lines and prompted schools to close.

Frigid temperatures and snow were also forecast for the Mid-Atlantic region and much of New England on Wednesday. The National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories and storm warnings for northern Georgia into Virginia and from Massachusetts to Maine, areas that are home to more than 30 million people.

In Austin Texas, a vehicle plunged more than 30 feet (9 meters) off a frozen overpass late on Tuesday, killing a man in his 40s, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said on its Twitter feed. An 82-year-old woman who suffered from dementia was found dead on Wednesday behind her Houston-area home, likely the victim of exposure to the cold, the Harris County Sheriff's Office said.

In Georgia, two people were fatally struck by a car that slid on an ice patch near Macon, local media said.

RELATED: Winter storm hits the East Coast

24 PHOTOS
Winter storm hits the East Coast
See Gallery
Winter storm hits the East Coast
WASHINGTON DC-DECEMBER 28 Tourists visit the National Mall near the United States Capitol on a brisk day in Washington, DC on December 28, 2017. (Photo by Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
JERSEY CITY, NJ - DECEMBER 30: The moon rises behind the skyline of lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in New York City on December 30, 2017, as seen from Jersey, New Jersey. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)
A man walks with a little girl as the snow falls in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A woman takes a selfie as the snow falls in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Horses pull carriages through Central Park as the snow falls during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A couple looks at the snow in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A woman makes her way carrying grocery bags during a snowstorm in New York on December 9, 2017. Forecasters issued a rare winter weather warning for the southern United States, with snow hitting places that rarely see it. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Children make a snowman in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A delivery person rides his bike as the snow falls in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A child rides in a sled in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A woman reacts to the snow in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A horse pulls a carriage through Central Park as the snow falls during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Children play in the snow in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A man teaches his daughter to ski in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A man is hit by a snowball in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Children play in the snow in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A bird is seen in a snow covered tree in Central Park during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A man takes a photo in Central Park as the snow falls during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A horse pulls a carriage through Central Park as the snow falls during a pre-winter storm in New York City, U.S., December 9, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 28: Esther Weis takes a bundled up Travis off his leash as they arrive home on Still Street in the Brookline neighborhood of Boston, Dec. 28, 2017. (Photo by Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
A woman walks down 50th Street bundled against the cold on December 28, 2017 in New York, as a bitter Arctic chill settled across much of the United States and Canada. In the US the National Weather Service said that 'dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills' were pummelling much of the central and eastern part of the country, with the forecast that one third of the country would experience temperatures hovering around minus 18 C on New Years Day. / AFP PHOTO / Don Emmert (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 27: A pedestrian crosses the street on December 27, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Frigid temperatures will be dipping into the single digits in the midwest over the next few days as Chicago faces one of the coldest holidays in a decade. (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 27: A jogger runs along the lakefront despite single-digit temperatures on December 27, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Frigid temperatures will be dipping into the single digits in the Midwest over the next few days as Chicago faces one of the coldest holidays in a decade. (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 27: A pedestrian crosses the street on December 27, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. Frigid temperatures will be dipping into the single digits in the Midwest over the next few days.(Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

At Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the nation's busiest with a typical volume of 2,700 arrivals and departures a day, about 350 flights were canceled as of Wednesday afternoon, according to tracking service Flightaware.com.

The sheriff's office in Oconee County, Georgia, east of Atlanta, tried humor to keep people off icy roads.

"I know you need cigarettes, beer and wine to get you through having your kids at home. Can you just do without for a day? Stay home," the office said on its Facebook page.

Wednesday's storm is not the first to bring a blast of frosty weather to the Deep South this winter. Earlier this month, Tallahassee on Florida's Panhandle and Savannah on the Georgia coast are among the cities that experienced significant snowfalls. Record low temperatures have occurred in many places in the eastern half of the country.

The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana declared states of emergency because of severe winter weather conditions, which caused multiple car accidents during rush hour.

Rain in central North Carolina will eventually turn into snow and leave up to 8 inches (20 cm) of powder over the central part of the state, NWS meteorologist Dan Petersen said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned at a news briefing that cold temperatures Wednesday night would make travel conditions even more hazardous.

"The snow is pretty but don't be fooled," Cooper said.

Melissa Howard, manager at the Oak City Cafe in Raleigh, North Carolina, said the restaurant would open on Thursday, despite a state of emergency issued in the area.

"Our plan is to stay in the hotel to serve the customers in the morning," she said, referring to the Days Inn next door.

In Houston, the nation's fourth most populous city, most freeways were closed on Wednesday morning after icing over, the city's Office of Emergency Management said.

More than 10,000 homes and businesses in Texas and Louisiana were without power as of Wednesday afternoon after ice-coated limbs broke off trees and cut power lines, utilities data showed. More than 12,000 in South Carolina were without power. (Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by David Gregorio and Steve Orlofsky)

Read Full Story