Snow, ice, cold grip South; at least 10 dead
Snow, ice and a record-breaking blast of cold closed runways, highways, schools and government offices across the South and sent cars sliding off roads Wednesday in a corner of the country ill-equipped to deal with wintry weather. At least 10 people died, including a baby in a car that plunged off an overpass into a Louisiana canal.
Icicles hung from a statue of jazz musicians in normally balmy New Orleans, and drivers unaccustomed to ice spun their wheels across Atlanta, which was brought to a near-standstill by little more than an inch of snow. The beach in Biloxi, Miss., got a light coating. And the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled classes as the storm unloaded at least 8 inches of snow in Durham and Greensboro.
The storm turned the morning rush hour treacherous, though many people heeded warnings to stay off the roads.
Even the best drivers had trouble: Retired NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted he had just used his winch to help pull a car out of a ditch when he drove off the road and into a tree in North Carolina.
Thousands of schoolchildren and teachers got the day off. Many cities canceled meetings and court proceedings, and some businesses closed. Slippery runways and the need to de-ice planes forced cancellations and delays in New Orleans; Memphis, Tenn.; and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Electricity usage surged to record highs as people struggled to keep warm.
At least four people died in Louisiana, including a man who was knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans when a pickup spun out of control on ice, and an 8-month-old baby in a car that slid into a canal in New Orleans. The baby’s mother was in critical condition.