South’s slow-motion freeze leaves vexing blanket of snow



ERICA YOON | The Roanoke Times
Camella Alexander uses a broom to push snow off of her car Wednesday morning in Northwest Roanoke, Jan. 17, 2018. Alexander said she was expecting to bring her children to school but later on found out that they closed due to the weather. She decided to attempt a drive to the grocery store. (Erica Yoon/The Roanoke Times via AP

By JONATHAN DREW and TOM FOREMAN Jr., Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — The deep freeze that killed 10 people and shut down much of the South began to relent Thursday, but several states were still dealing with the lingering effects of the slow-moving storm that dumped up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow in central North Carolina.

The snow had stopped by early morning in the Carolinas, but officials warned travelers to watch for black ice on roads that had been plowed. Others were still impassible. Even low hills in unplowed residential neighborhoods proved too much for drivers in northern Durham County, and a dark-colored sedan sat abandoned in the middle of the road in one neighborhood.

The storm that swept across the South through Wednesday dumped up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow on the northern part the county. In the area’s residential neighborhoods, a few people shoveled driveways but most stayed bundled inside.

Mark Foley, 24, wore a hat and jacket as he worked to start his pickup truck covered in a half-foot (15 centimeters) of snow in a Durham driveway. After a few minutes in the 15 degree (9 degrees Celsius) air, he had success. He said he had to drive several miles to pick up an in-home health aide for his disabled father.

“My lock was frozen, so I couldn’t even unlock the door. So I had to use some warm water,” he said holding an empty pitcher. “It’s more snow than we thought we were going to get. ”

The National Weather Service said hazardous travel conditions in most of the Carolinas were not expected to improve before midday because of the frigid temperatures.

In Atlanta, temperatures also remained well below freezing. Metro Atlanta’s commuter rail system was operating on a limited schedule as the city continued to recover from the approximately 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) of snow and ice that brought the area to a standstill. Officials at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest, were hoping to reduce lengthy security checkpoint wait times that occurred at the height of the storm. Delays on Wednesday were exacerbated when some security screeners were unable to get to the airport to check people in. Some spent Wednesday night at the airport to avoid a repeat.

On Thursday, airlines canceled another 200 flights at the Atlanta airport, and dozens of other flights at Charlotte Douglas International Airport as the South continued to recover.

Much of Alabama remained in weather-related limbo. State offices were resuming operations at noon Thursday, and some school systems returned to class with delayed openings. Forecasters say high temperatures Thursday should range from the upper 30s to the low 40s, helping melt the remaining ice.

At least four people died in Louisiana, including a man knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans when a pickup spun out on ice, and an 8-month-old baby in a car that slid into a canal in suburban New Orleans. The baby’s mother was in critical condition.

Two others died along an icy stretch of I-75 southeast of Atlanta when a driver lost control and hit them, one of them inside a stopped car and the other standing beside it, authorities said.

One person died in a weather-related traffic accident in West Virginia. In the freezing Houston area, a homeless man was found dead behind a trash bin, apparently of exposure, while an 82-year-old woman with dementia succumbed to the cold after walking away from her home. Also, a woman was discovered dead in a snowy park near City Hall in Memphis, Tennessee. The temperature was about 10 degrees (minus 12 Celsius) when she was found.

From Charlotte to Raleigh, North Carolina’s five most populous cities all saw significant snow from a system that followed an atypical west-to-east path across the state — and moved more slowly than forecasters had predicted. One foot (30 centimeters) of snow was reported in Durham County by early Thursday morning. Winston-Salem and Greensboro each had about 7 inches (18 centimeters),

In North Carolina, state troopers responded to 1,600 crashes while Charlotte police reported another nearly 200 by late Wednesday. Gov. Roy Cooper said state officials weren’t aware of any fatalities. About 10,000 homes and businesses were without power early Thursday, including about half in Durham and Wake counties.

In northern Durham County, Ben Kimmel marveled as snow blew across his property all day Wednesday. Kimmel said he had propane to heat his house if he lost electricity and has extra water, too.

“This is really unusual for this area to have this much snow,” said the 49-year-old, who has lived in the state most of his life.
Foreman reported from Winston-Salem. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jack Jones in Columbia; Gary D. Robertson in Cary and Emery P. Dalesio in Raleigh, North Carolina; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; and Kate Brumback and Jeff Martin in Atlanta.

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