ATLANTA (AP) —
It's a rare sight in downtown New Orleans — snow flurries.
Cold rain and sleet fell through much of Friday and snow was part of the mix at times. Temperatures in the city were expected to hover above freezing so no accumulation of snow was expected.
The winter weather was complicating travel in and around the city.
Police organized motorists in slow-moving convoys to prevent accidents on the weather-slick 24-mile long causeway bridge that links the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain to suburbs west of New Orleans.
Parts of south Mississippi and southeast Louisiana have recorded one of their heaviest-ever snowfalls.
National Weather Service officials say 6 inches (15 centimeters) or more of snow has been recorded across southwest Mississippi. With 6 inches, Columbia recorded the most snow ever in one day and Meridian recorded its third-heaviest snowfall. Jackson at 5.1 inches (13 centimeters), recorded its sixth-heaviest ever snowfall.
At Belhaven University in Jackson, students built snowmen and engaged in running snowball fights in the school's football stadium, blowing off steam during fall exams.
A the snow ends, a hard freeze is predicted deep into South Louisiana and south Mississippi Friday night, prompting warnings that roadways will freeze over. Utilities are reporting 66,000 electrical outages statewide, down from an earlier peak of nearly 80,000.
Heavy snow in northern Georgia is leaving thousands without power.
Georgia Power said Friday afternoon that more than 28,900 customers were without electricity — most of them in metro Atlanta and counties further north where snowfall was blanketing trees and roads.
The National Weather Service had much of northern Georgia under a winter storm warning Friday. The warning area included Atlanta, where up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) of accumulation was forecast. Forecasters said snowfall could reach 4 inches (10 centimeters) farther north.
Some businesses closed early in Atlanta on Friday and commuters began to clog slushy roads long before the normal rush hour.
As much as 5 inches (13 centimeters) of snow has left about 45,000 homes and businesses without power in Alabama.
Alabama Power Co. says the largest number of outages is in metro Birmingham, where about 25,000 customers were dark at midday.
Around 5 inches (13 centimeters) covered the ground in the city's southern suburbs, slowing traffic to a crawl on roads including Interstate 65 in heavily populated Shelby County. The National Weather Service said roughly the same amount of snow could fall in a roughly 50-mile (80-kilometer) wide band stretching from southwestern to northeastern Alabama.
Travel problems could worsen overnight and continue into the weekend since overnight low temperatures are predicted to drop well below freezing.
Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-40s with a clear sky by Saturday afternoon.
Heavy, wet snow is causing widespread power outages in southeast Louisiana and south Mississippi.
Louisiana utilities report nearly 100,000 customers without power, with outages concentrated around Baton Rouge and on the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans.
Utilities in Mississippi report nearly 80,000 customers without power, with outages concentrated around McComb and Hattiesburg. Brock Williamson, a spokesman for Taylorsville-based Southern Pine Electric Power Association, says snow is weighing down tree branches, which are falling onto power lines. He says officials aren't sure how long it will take to restore power to more than 20,000 of the cooperative's customers whose lights are out. Southern Pine and other cooperatives are seeking extra crews from other utilities to help.
Airlines are canceling flights in Atlanta as a precaution due to the wintry forecast.
Delta Air Lines has canceled 125 flights Friday through its hub at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Southwest Airlines also canceled more than 40 flights.
Both airlines are preparing for the storm by having crews de-ice planes, which could cause some delays.
Delta says some fees have been waived for passengers scheduled to fly on Friday.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation was reporting icy spots on roads and bridges, but warm pavement meant many roads remained clear.
Dozens of schools districts closed, some only after daybreak revealed a winter wonderland, and three universities postponed or delayed their winter commencements. In some areas the snow came so much heavier than expected that there wasn't even time for panic buying. Shelves remained well stocked with milk and bread at McDade's Market in Jackson, in a shopping center where businesses opened as normal.
There was a crowd at the Starbucks stocking up on hot drinks. Among them was Nnenna Ezem. A Chicago resident, she's unfazed by the snow, but amazed that it's more wintry in Mississippi than at home.
"It hasn't even snowed in Chicago yet, so it's kind of crazy," Ezem said.
Kids of all ages were romping in 3 inches of fluffy, cotton candy snow in Jackson, Mississippi.
"Snowfight! Snowfight!" exclaimed 3-year-old Webb Tuten, as he tottered across a neighbor's snowy yard in Jackson.
His father, Jason Tuten, said Webb and his visiting niece Lorelei Bonds had been demanding to go outside since 6:30 am.
"I'm surprised they lasted this long," he said.
Lorelei quickly ran out of patience, though, quickly growing cold and wet as she tried to eat giant chunks of snow.
Mississippians are used to ice and sleet but rarely see fluffy snow.
"My whole life it was always ice storms, rarely snow," Tuten said. "I guess the conditions were perfect."
More than three dozen school systems in Alabama have shut down because of a snowstorm that has blanketed part of the state.
The closings Friday extended in a band from southwestern Alabama near the Gulf of Mexico into northeastern Alabama near the Georgia line. School systems in the state's most heavily populated area around Birmingham are among those giving children and teachers the day off.
Other systems say they are opening late, and so are some businesses and government offices.
About 2½ inches of snow had accumulated in parts of central Alabama by midmorning, and snow was still coming down. Snow is beginning to accumulate on some roads, causing wrecks. Scattered power outages also are being reported.
Forecasters are predicting high temperatures in the mid-30s followed by freezing temperatures overnight, meaning travel could be difficult Saturday morning.
Snowfall has forced North Carolina's governor has postponed two events in the western part of the state.
Gov. Roy Cooper had been scheduled to discuss the opioid crisis and visit a nonprofit that operates a halfway house and soup kitchen in Waynesville, which is west of Asheville. Forecasters say the mountainous area could get as much as 6 inches (152millimeters) of snow from a winter storm that was blowing in Friday.
A news release said the appearances are postponed and will be rescheduled due to inclement weather.
He was originally scheduled to visit the Haywood Pathways Center and then hold a roundtable discussion on the opioid crisis at a nearby government building.
Rare snowfall across South Texas has knocked out power to thousands, caused numerous accidents along slick roadways and prompted the closure of schools.
Frigid temperatures behind a cold front combined with moisture off the Gulf of Mexico to bring snow and sleet Thursday to Laredo and other communities on the border with Mexico.
The weather band then brought snow to San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Houston and elsewhere.
The temperatures early Friday dropped as low as 27 degrees (-3 Celsius) in the Austin area.
About 5 inches (127 millimeters) of snow fell on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station.
San Antonio received about 2 inches (51 millimeters) of snow, the largest amount to fall in that city since January 1987 when 1.3 inches (33 millimeters) of accumulation was recorded
Nearly two dozen school districts in north Georgia have closed as snow continues to fall in the area.
Multiple media outlets report that about 20 schools ranging from White, Dawson and Gilmer counties have closed on Friday. Schools are closing due to the winter storm warning issued in an area where up to 2 inches (50 millimeters) are expected from Carrollton in west Georgia northeast to the mountains, with 3 to 4 inches (76-102 millimeters) at higher elevations.
In metro Atlanta, some school districts are staying open for classes, but all extracurricular activities Friday night and Saturday have been canceled.
School officials in Cobb are encouraging parents to pick up their children from after school programs as early as possible.
The National Weather Service says snow is falling in parts of Mississippi and Louisiana.
Meteorologist Thomas Winesett in the weather service's Jackson, Mississippi, office says heavy snow began falling about 4 a.m. Friday. He says an accumulation of about 1.5 inches (38 millimeters) of snow is reported at the Jackson-Evers International Airport.
Winesett expects the snowfall to taper off around noon. But he says any slush or wet roads could turn into black ice overnight.
Meteorologist Tim Erickson says bursts of snow have fallen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He says about half an inch (13 millimeters) has fallen, but much of the snow has melted because of the warm roads.
The National Weather Service says reports of snow flurries have been trickling in overnight across parts of north Georgia.
Meteorologist Kent McMullen in the weather service's Peachtree City office south of Atlanta says the first reports of snow came in the north Georgia mountains. Snow also is reported falling in the suburbs north of Atlanta.
In Atlanta, the streets were wet before daybreak as the morning commute began, but temperatures remained above freezing. The forecast calls for a mix of rain and snow most of the day, changing to snow on Friday night.
McMullen says accumulations of up to 2 inches are expected from Carrollton in west Georgia northeast to the mountains, with 3 to 4 inches possible in higher elevations.
The weather service warns that black ice is possible on roads Saturday morning with low temperatures of 20 to the lower 30s.
Highs are expected to reach the 40s by Saturday afternoon with mostly sunny skies.
Say it ain't snow!
A wintry mix of precipitation is threatening several Deep South states, and, yes, some snow is in the forecast. But it's unlikely to stick around more than a few hours at most.
But to those Southerners who get panicky at the mere mention of the white stuff, forecasters say, ground temperatures are warm enough that any accumulations should melt quickly. Still, the threat of even a half inch (12 millimeters) of snow was cause for alarm in a region that doesn't see regular snowfall.
Meteorologist David Nadler, at the National Weather Service's office near Atlanta, says it would be the season's first snow. His agency issued winter weather advisories for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.
Affected areas include such cities as Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Birmingham, Alabama.