Freezing Rain, Sleet Follow Blast of Snow in Parts of Southeast

By: CNN
By: CNN

(CNN) -- Treacherous travel conditions, power outages and school cancellations stretched across the Southeast as freezing rain and sleet followed on the heels of a heavy snowstorm that blanketed the region over the weekend.

Schools and government offices shut their doors from Arkansas to the Carolinas, while power utilities mobilized crews for widespread power outages. CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen said below-freezing temperatures are expected through Tuesday, and continued precipitation will leave a heavy coating of ice on power lines and trees, which could cause outages.

CNN weather radar at 11:30 a.m. showed the storm system centered on South Carolina, with heavy snow in the northern part of that state into eastern North Carolina, patches of snow in western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee, and a band of wintry mix -- snow, sleet and freezing rain -- extending from northeastern Alabama, through most of northern Georgia and all of South Carolina's Lowcountry.

Double-digit snow depths were reported Monday in the Tennessee towns of Minor Hill (13 inches) and Lawrenceburg (11 inches), while Oxford, Mississippi, had 10 inches. Other areas reporting heavy accumulations were Greenville, North Carolina (9 inches), Asheville, North Carolina (7 inches), and Huntsville, Alabama (7 inches). Canton, Georgia, and Greenville, South Carolina, each reported 6 inches.

The power company Entergy reported about 4,000 people without power in Mississippi. About 200 people in north Georgia were still without electricity Monday morning after snow sent tree limbs into power lines, according to Georgia Electric Membership Corp.

Winter storm warnings were in effect Monday for parts of Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas, and parts of southern Alabama were under an ice storm warning.

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Roads in northern Louisiana were being reopened Monday, according to CNN affiliate station KSLA in Shreveport. The area was hard hit by snow and ice that led to one fatality Sunday night in Webster County, where a passenger in a car that slid off Interstate 20 and hit a tree was killed, KSLA reported.

Many Southerners were surprised to see a rapid onslaught of snow. At least 4 inches of snow fell in just a couple of hours in Atlanta, CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera said.

As kids reveled in school cancellations, motorists bemoaned slow, sometimes immobilizing and occasionally terrifying conditions.

A dozen tractor-trailers had jackknifed as of 6:30 a.m. Monday along a relatively short stretch of Interstate 30 west of Benton, Arkansas, according to state troopers.

Near Clover, South Carolina, a tractor-trailer collided with a truck carrying lithium hydroxide, a chemical that can react with moisture, but the chemical was safely contained in the truck, authorities told CNN affiliate WBTV in Charlotte, North Carolina. One person was hurt in the accident, the station reported.

Chuck Meadows said he dodged "slipping and sliding" vehicles on Interstate 20 in Atlanta, Georgia, on his way home from a friend's house Sunday night.

"It was traumatic ... the near misses," Meadows, a native Atlantan, said Monday morning. "A large pickup slid toward me on the highway before I decided to get off the highway. There was a hill that a number of people got stuck on."

Farther north, in Kennesaw, Georgia, Sarah DeRoch watched a pickup truck get stuck on her cul-de-sac.

"It made the mistake of stopping in the snow," said DeRoch, a native of the Chicago, Illinois, area who, like her husband, is used to heavy snowfall. "We went out to give it some pointers" before the vehicle was eventually towed by another truck, she said.

Meanwhile, her daughter Gwyneth was bursting with anticipation at a canceled school day.

"She's been asking me every five minutes, 'Did they close the schools?'" DeRoch said.

In addition to schools, hundreds of flights were canceled as the Southeast's winter storm began to have a domino effect on travel across the country.

AirTran Airways canceled 270 flights for Monday, most of them heading into Atlanta, spokesman Christopher White said.

Anthony Black, a spokesman for Delta Air Lines, said the airline has planned to cancel 1,450 Delta and Delta Connections on Monday, "approximately 25 percent of all planned flights for the day." Most of those flights were arriving or departing from Atlanta.

Atlantic Southeast Airlines spokesman Jarek Beem said the storm had forced a number of cancellations Sunday through Tuesday. He declined to provide a specific number.

In preparation for wintry conditions, governors in Louisiana, Georgia and Alabama declared states of emergency.

"We face a serious storm that will have an impact all across Alabama," Gov. Bob Riley said in a statement. He advised motorists to stay off the roads.

All of Alabama's state government offices were closed Monday, and all major highways in Marshall and Cullman counties were considered impassable.

In South Carolina, state government offices were closed and the National Guard was on standby.

In Allendale County, South Carolina -- 80 miles south of Columbia, the county rarely gets snow -- the National Guard Armory was set up as an emergency shelter.

In Georgia, the city of Atlanta and Crawford County declared separate states of emergency. The Georgia Department of Transportation reported 50 dump trucks had been retrofitted with snowplows up front and spreaders in back to combat the icy roads in metro Atlanta.

In North Carolina, snow and ice were reported in at least 13 counties on Monday, most in the mountainous western part of the state. At least 10 schools systems were closing early.

Snow was falling so fast in western North Carolina early Monday that crews plowing the interstates and primary roads had to double back and replow stretches of road, according to CNN affiliate WLOS-TV in Asheville.

Meanwhile, snow moved into the Northeast, but the region was spared a repeat of the late December blizzard that virtually shut down large cities such as New York and Philadelphia. Emergency management officials were able to quickly recover from the comparably light dusting of snow that began blanketing the region Friday.

But nothing, it seems, fazes DeRoch, the Georgia mother who seemingly has a contingency plan for all situations.

"If the power goes out," she said, "you can put your refrigerated stuff outside."


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