A travel warning sign is seen along Interstate 65 as cold weather descends on Mobile, Alabama, yesterday.
WINSTON-SALEM: A rare blast of snow, sleet and ice hit the US South yesterday, prompting schools to close, airlines to cancel flights and emergency officials to warn of icy 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 -34 Celsius, the National Weather Service said.
The winter storm could extend from southern Louisiana and the Gulf Coast into northern Florida and through the Carolinas, the weather service said. Parts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina will likely see significant icing, while light to heavy snow is expected in some parts of the southern Mid-Atlantic states.
“It’s a very little bit of an enchanting setting for us,” said Crit Miller, fire chief in the historic city of Natchitoches, Louisiana, where about 2 inches of snow fell early yesterday. “We don’t get snow very often.”
Forecasters were predicting 1 to 2 inches of snow in parts of middle and north Georgia including the Atlanta area, prompting dozens of school closings. In South Carolina, lawmakers cancelled this week’s session of the state legislature ahead of the expected wintry mix. In Mississippi, Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency for at least three dozen counties and delayed the opening of many state agencies to help alleviate traffic woes.
Air travel across the region was taking a hit, with more than 2,800 US flights cancelled and hundreds of others delayed, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com.
Winter weather advisories were also issued for a wide swath of eastern and central Texas, with predictions of up to 1 inch of snow near the state’s border with northern Louisiana.
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.