As snowstorm heads north, Deep South battles ice

ATLANTA:The East Coast braced for a powerful winter storm on Tuesday that left the Deep South battling icy roads and record snowfall.Airlines preemptively canceled hundreds of flights and companies were advising employees to work from home, as the second major storm this season was expected to dump as much as 10 inches of snow on New York City.The storm ripped its way through the South, leaving as much as 13 inches of snow in some areas and causing at least three fatal traffic accidents.”This is a big traffic, travel, transportation problem,” said Ken Davis, spokesman for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. “The ice has made travel extremely hazardous. There are countless areas of the state that are impassable.”Authorities in Alabama said one person died in an ice-related accident, and two others died on Louisiana roads.Authorities shut schools and government offices for a second day in dozens of districts in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.

Parts of Interstate 285 that loops around Atlanta were closed near Hartsfield-Jackson Airport because dozens of tractor-trailer trucks were stuck, said Karlene Barron, spokeswoman for the state transportation agency.Delta, the airport’s dominant carrier, canceled more than 1,450 flights, including those operated by its regional affiliates, for a second straight day from the U.S. Southeast up through the Northeast, spokesman Anthony Black said.Alabama authorities warned that black ice was a problem.The storm dumped ice in central Mississippi but further north it yielded record snowfall. Ripley received a reported 10.5 inches, according to unofficial figures from the weather service, beating the 7.5-inch record set in 1966.Upstate South Carolina began to dig out from up to 9 inches of snow and some roads remained barely passable.”The car is a gigantic snow and ice cube,” said Elizabeth Stewart, 38, of Greenville, South Carolina.The storm was headed up the east coast where Boston could get hit with 12 to 16 inches of snow and New York City could get 8 to 10 inches, the National Weather Service said.

A previous storm on Christmas weekend dumped 20 inches on New York’s Central Park over 17 hours on December 26 and 27. Hundreds of buses got stuck, ambulances were unable to get through and entire neighborhoods were cut off for days.”We didn’t do the job that New Yorkers rightly expect of us in the last storm and we intend to make sure that that does not happen again,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Tuesday.National Weather Service forecaster Michael Eckert said while this storm will not be as strong and widespread, “for a major metropolitan area, this is still a lot of snow and will cause some disruption.”Continental Airlines said it canceled about 100 flights, mainly from its hub at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, for Tuesday evening. JetBlue canceled 109 flights for Tuesday and 137 for Wednesday across the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic region. American Airlines canceled 350 flights.(Additional reporting by Verna Gates in Birmingham, Leigh Coleman in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, Harriet McLeod in South Carolina and Karen Jacobs in Atlanta; Editing by Greg McCune, Ellen Wulfhorst and Peter Bohan) – Reuters