Icicles hang from a road sign as cold weather descends on
Mobile, Alabama. REUTERS/Lyle Ratliff
A rare blast of snow, sleet and ice hit the US South
prompting residents accustomed to more moderate weather to
scramble for supplies and face dangerously slick roads.
The southern cold snap is part of an arctic front that has
put much of the Northeast and northern Plains under warnings
and advisories for dangerous wind chills. Temperatures in
parts of those regions could feel as cold as minus 34
Celsius, the National Weather Service said.
Schools and government offices across a wide swath of the
country were closed. Airlines canceled or delayed thousands
of flights, and officials closed roads as conditions
North Carolina and South Carolina were expected to get the
most snow, while the heaviest ice accumulation was forecast
from Louisiana to the Carolinas, the weather service said.
Temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees colder than normal
were expected to continue for much of the eastern United
States. In Washington, DC, the National Gallery's skating
rink shut down, with officials saying it was too cold for
skaters to be out on the ice.
"We're getting a bit of everything," said Jody White, a
police sergeant in Opelousas, Louisiana. "It's cold. The
sleet is coming down in patches."
In Alabama, two people died and five others were hospitalized
after a seven-car crash on an iced-over bridge near
Montgomery, said Robyn Litchfield, an Alabama Department of
Public Safety spokeswoman.
Lawmakers in South Carolina canceled this week's session of
the state legislature due to weather concerns, and
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of
emergency for at least three dozen counties.
The storm took a toll on air travel across the region, with
more than 3,000 U.S. flights cancelled and hundreds of others
delayed, according to flight tracking website
In New Orleans, which last got an inch of snow in 2008,
freezing rain and sleet were likely through most of the
afternoon and would possibly turn into snow in the evening,
said Danielle Manning, a forecaster with the National Weather
Service in Slidell, Louisiana.
Schools were closed and jury selection in the corruption
trial of a former mayor was suspended due to the cold
weather. The manager of a popular grocery store said it was
packed with shoppers stocking up on food and supplies before
it also closed.
"They were buying hurricane stuff, including a lot of
spirits, of course," said Edwin Moreno, manager at Dorignac's
Food Center in suburban New Orleans.
The bad weather prompted a federal judge in Knoxville,
Tennessee, to postpone court proceedings part way through a
sentencing hearing for three peace activists, including an
Winter weather advisories were also issued for a wide swath
of eastern and central Texas for Tuesday, with predictions of
up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) of snow near the state's border with
Freezing temperatures and rain snarled the morning commute
through large parts of central Texas and Louisiana, where
roads and bridges were iced over. Police in Austin, Texas,
reported about 100 crashes caused by icy roads but said there
had been no fatalities.