South sees snow, ice and record-breaking cold

ATLANTA (AP) — The South awoke on today to a two-part Arctic mess. First came a thin blanket of snow and ice, and then came the below-zero wind chills and record-breaking low temperatures in New Orleans and other cities.

The snowfall sabotaged morning rush hour even before it began, sending cars crashing into each other on major thoroughfares throughout the region. Officials urged people to stay off the slick roads if possible, and to bundle up and wear layers of clothing if they ventured outside.

With the temperature hovering around 10 degrees, store clerk Susan Brown got to work an hour late today in the north Alabama city of Decatur. Snow and ice blanketed grassy areas and roadsides, she said, and neighborhood roads were much whiter than main highways.

"Traffic is moving along, but on side roads and residential streets it's pretty slick," said Brown, who works at Holaway's Food Market. "As long as you stay in the tracks you're pretty good.""

Fast-food restaurants and a few convenience stores were open, she said, but traffiic was light and not many people were out.

"We didn't get much snow, maybe a half-inch, but the ice is the problem," Brown said.

In Atlanta, snow covered icy sidewalks. Major thoroughfares usually full at morning rush hour were eerily quiet. Some cars went through red lights rather than stop and risk sliding on the ice.

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