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 severe wind chills. Temperatures in parts of those
regions could feel as cold as minus 30 Fahrenheit (minus 34 Celsius)
on Tuesday, the National Weather Service said.
Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina
each declared a state of emergency, telling motorists to stay off
"Residents should not overreact but should make plans now to ensure
they are prepared for prolonged freezing conditions and icy
roadways," Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said.
By Wednesday morning, the cold front is expected to blanket the
Carolinas, Georgia and parts of Florida with a mix of freezing rain
and sleet, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters say the front is moving slowly and the icy chill is not
expected to leave the region until Thursday.
The last flight left New Orleans at about 11 a.m. local time on
Tuesday and its Louis Armstrong International Airport was then
closed to commercial traffic ahead of the storm. Authorities also
shut the 24-mile (39-km) Causeway Bridge, which spans Lake
Pontchartrain, because of icy conditions.
Residents and tourists excited by the novelty of the conditions took
photos of icicles hanging from the wrought-iron balconies of the
city's historic French Quarter.
Temperatures are forecast to hit a low of 23 degrees Fahrenheit
(minus 5 Celsius) in New Orleans on Tuesday night and the city could
see its first snowfall in years.
"This is pretty rare in New Orleans," Mike Efferson of the National
Weather Service Office in Slidell, Louisiana, said of the
"This only happens about every 10 years."
Schools and government offices across a wide swath of the country
were closed. Airlines canceled or delayed thousands of flights, and
officials closed roads as conditions worsened.
North Carolina and South Carolina were expected to get the most
snow, while the heaviest ice accumulation was forecast from
Louisiana to the Carolinas, the weather service said.
Temperatures 10 to 20 degrees colder than normal were expected to
continue for much of the eastern United States. In Washington, the
National Gallery's skating rink was closed, with officials saying it
was too cold for skaters to be out on the ice.
Jury selection in the corruption trial of a former New Orleans Mayor
Ray Nagin was suspended because of the weather.
"We're getting a bit of everything," said Jody White, a police
sergeant in Opelousas, Louisiana. "It's cold. The sleet is coming
down in patches."
In Alabama, two people died and five others were hospitalized after
a seven-car pileup on an ice-covered bridge near Montgomery, said
Robyn Litchfield, an Alabama Department of Public Safety
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In Sandy Springs, near Atlanta, Ga., a baby was born in a car stuck in
traffic caused by the storm. The baby and the mother were safe and
healthy, police said.
The baby was delivered by the father and a Sandy Springs police
Lawmakers in South Carolina canceled this week's session of the
state legislature, citing weather concerns.
The storm took a toll on air travel across the region, with more
than 3,000 U.S. flights canceled and hundreds of others delayed,
according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com.
STOCKING UP ON SPIRITS
In Atlanta, 2 to 3 inches of snow caused massive traffic jams, auto
accidents and road closures and schools and businesses closed by
The manager of a popular Louisiana grocery store said it was packed
with shoppers stocking up on food and supplies before it also
"They were buying hurricane stuff, including a lot of spirits, of
course," said Edwin Moreno, manager at Dorignac's Food Center in
suburban New Orleans where sales of alcoholic beverages soared.
The bad weather prompted a federal judge in Knoxville, Tennessee, to
postpone court proceedings part way through a sentencing hearing for
three peace activists, including an elderly nun.
Winter weather advisories were also issued for a wide swath of
eastern and central Texas for Tuesday, with predictions of up to 1
inch of snow near the state's border with northern Louisiana.
Rain and freezing temperatures combined to snarl the morning commute
through large parts of central Texas and Louisiana, where roads and
bridges were iced over. Police in Austin, Texas, reported more than
150 crashes caused by icy roads but said there had been no
(Reporting and writing by Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North
Carolina; additional writing by Jon Herskovitz in Austin and Chris
Francescani in New York; additional reporting by David Beasley in
Atlanta; Karen Brooks in Austin, Texas; Lisa Bose McDermott in
Texarkana, Texas; Emily Le Coz in Jackson, Mississippi; Verna Gates
in Birmingham, Alabama; Ian Simpson and Timothy Ryan in Washington
and Melodi Erdogan in Knoxville, Tennessee; editing by Cynthia Osterman, Leslie Adler, Gunna Dickson and Lisa Shumaker)
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