February 13

Deaths, power outages in South; storm heads north

Atlanta residents learned their lessons during a January storm and heed dire forecasts this time.

By Kate Brumback
The Associated Press

ATLANTA — Small armies of utility workers labored to turn the lights – and the heat – back on for hundreds of thousands of Southerners as a winter storm that left them without power threatened major cities further up the East Coast.

click image to enlarge

Traffic moves slowly on a freeway leaving downtown Charlotte as snow continues to fall on Tuesday. A fierce winter storm brought heavy snow, freezing rain and a possibly historic accumulation of ice to the southeastern United States.

Reuters

STORM SOCKS EAST COAST

Snow and sleet are falling on the East Coast — from North Carolina to New England — a day after sleet, snow and ice bombarded the Southeast. Here's a sampling of what the latest round of winter weather is bringing:

 

DIRE FORECAST: A National Weather Service map of the storm showed possible effects hitting 20 states from Alabama to Maine. Winter storm warnings were issued for much of the Eastern Seaboard, while ice storm warnings remained in place in South Carolina and Georgia. Baltimore awoke to 15 inches of snow, while 11 inches accumulated in parts of Washington as more snow fell. The Philadelphia area could get 6 to 12 inches, up to 14 inches was possible in northwest New Jersey, and New York City and its suburbs could get 8 to 12 inches. Up to 18 inches of snow was forecast for central and western Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine, could see 8 or 9 inches. The National Weather Service had called the storm "catastrophic ... crippling ... paralyzing ... choose your adjective" for the South, including Atlanta, where a storm two weeks ago created huge traffic jams.

 

IN THE DARK: More than 700,000 homes and businesses lacked power in several Southeastern states by Thursday morning. Power companies in the Northeast were preparing for outages.

 

TREACHEROUS TRAVEL: More than 5,100 flights were canceled across the country, according to the website FlightAware. Amtrak canceled some of its trains and modified schedules for others. Acela Express trains between Washington and Boston, Northeast Regional trains between Boston and Norfolk, Va., Keystone Service between New York and Harrisburg, Pa., and Empire Service between New York and Albany, N.Y., are operating at reduced frequency or modified schedules. Amtrak has canceled Auto Train, Crescent, Carolinian, Palmetto and Piedmont trains. The Silver Meteor is canceled from New York to Miami and the Silver Star will operate south from Jacksonville, Fla.

 

At least 13 deaths across the South have been blamed on the weather, including three killed after an ambulance careened off a slick Texas highway and caught fire and a firefighter killed when he was knocked off an interstate ramp in Dallas. In the Northeast, municipalities imposed parking and travel restrictions so roadways and streets would be clear for plowing. Speed limits have been lowered on some highways.

 

POTHOLE PLETHORA: A relentless cycle of snow and bitter cold is testing the nation's infrastructure. New York City crews filled 69,000 potholes in the first five weeks of the year — nearly twice as many as the same period in 2013. In Iowa, a Des Moines official said the city has never endured so many broken water mains.

 

WINTER CANCELS WINTER: A celebration of winter tourism in the Olympic village of Lake Placid, N.Y., has been postponed because of storm forecasts. Plans had called for visitors take part in skiing, bobsledding and other winter sports at the sites that hosted the 1980 and 1932 Winter Olympics. A new date has not been chosen.

 

- The Associated Press

The Deep South remained a world of ice-laden trees and driveways early Thursday after several unusual days of sleet and snow brought by a powerful system that could bring more than a foot of snow to such metropolises as Philadelphia, Washington and Boston.

At least 12 deaths across the South have been blamed on the stormy weather and nearly 3,300 flights nationwide were canceled with another day of complicated air and road travel ahead Thursday, particularly in the Northeast.

Drivers in and around Raleigh, N.C., became snarled Wednesday in huge traffic jams and abandoned cars in scenes reminiscent of motorist woes in Atlanta during a storm two weeks earlier. In Atlanta, many streets were eerily quiet this storm, with drivers heeding dire warnings to stay off the roads. State troopers say they worked more than 200 crashes in Georgia. Snow was forecast to stop falling and temperatures to rise in most of the state by late morning, but ice remained a concern, with refreezing possible overnight and into Friday.

For some on slick, snow-covered interstates in North Carolina, commutes that should take minutes lasted hours after many got on the highways just as soon as snow and sleet began at midday.

And in South Carolina, more accustomed to occasional hurricanes, some could only relate the damage from ice-snapped tree limbs to that of bygone Hurricane Hugo. Even normally balmy Myrtle Beach, where millions of visitors cavort each summer, cars were coated in thick ice that also frosted palm trees and kiddie rides by the shore.

"I hate driving on this," grumbled South Carolina resident Mindy Taylor, 43, on her way for rock salt, kitty litter or anything else to melt the ice. "Hopefully it'll warm up by the weekend and it will all melt. I'm ready for Spring."

In Alabama, forecasters gleefully spoke of weekend temperatures reaching the 60s after inches of snow or sleet in its northern parts.

The snow, sleet and freezing rain that iced Southern highways also knocked out electricity to more than half a million homes and business as it advanced Thursday up the Interstate 95 corridor to the winter-weary Mid-Atlantic states.

Some Southerners who two weeks ago reveled in the so-called "snow jam" sounded tired this time of sleet and ice encasing highways, trees and even the tombstones of a cemetery replete with Confederate graves.

Charter school teacher Bethany Lanier, 32, was walking in a mostly empty square in the Atlanta suburb of Decatur with Lindsay Futterman, 30, as they debated whether to get a drink at a pub.

If classes are canceled Friday, the charter school students will have missed nine days of school. To make up days, administrators have canceled a three-day break.

"Now, we're out because we have cabin fever," Lanier said as Futterman added: "It's kind of annoying now."

Many Southerners took to makeshift sleds on the ice and snow, with at least seven people hospitalized in sledding accidents just in Georgia. Four people were hurt sledding in a kayak that crashed into a pole, said Fire Chief Ricky Pruit in Cleveland, Ga. One victim suffered leg injuries, another was knocked unconscious and lost several teeth, and the other two refused treatment, he said.

(Continued on page 2)

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