You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

U.S.

  • Angola robbery suspect flees, takes hostage in Mich.
    GIRARD TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Authorities said a man suspected of a robbery in Angola, Indiana, fled to Michigan, where he took a person hostage inside an adult novelty store near Coldwater.
  • Leesburg driver charged in Illinois crash that killed 4
    JOLIET, Ill. – A semi-truck driver involved in a crash that killed four people southwest of Chicago was driving too fast and falsified entries in a logbook tracking the number of hours he spent behind the wheel, authorities said Tuesday.
  • 2008 law unexpectedly at center of border debate
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein recalls turning on her television and seeing a young Chinese girl crying before a judge, without even an interpreter to help her after surviving a harrowing journey to the U.
Advertisement
Associated Press
A highway patrol officer checks on the safety of a stranded motorist during a winter storm Wednesday in Raleigh, N.C.

Wintry storm leaves South stranded, powerless

Atlantans stay home, but traffic backs up in NC

– Drivers got caught in monumental traffic jams and abandoned their cars Wednesday in North Carolina in a replay of what happened in Atlanta just two weeks ago, as another wintry storm across the South iced highways and knocked out electricity to more than a half-million homes and businesses.

While Atlanta’s highways were clear – apparently because people learned their lesson and heeded forecasters’ unusually dire warnings to stay home – thousands of cars were backed up on the slippery, snow-covered interstates around Raleigh, N.C., and short commutes turned into hourslong journeys.

As the storm glazed the South with snow and freezing rain, it also pushed northward along the Interstate 95 corridor, threatening to bring at least a half-foot of snow today to the already sick-of-winter mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

At least 11 deaths across the South were blamed on the treacherous weather, and nearly 3,300 airline flights nationwide were canceled.

The situation in North Carolina was eerily similar to what happened Jan. 28 in Atlanta: As snow started to fall around midday, everyone left work at the same time, despite warnings from officials to stay home altogether because the storm would move in quickly.

Raleigh city spokeswoman Jayne Kirkpatrick had no estimate of how many vehicles had been abandoned and was unable to say whether motorists might be stranded on the road overnight.

“If we find anyone that is stranded that needs water or food or whatever we can do for them,” city crews will help, Kirkpatrick said. “We hope it won’t be too much longer before it’s no longer a problem.”

Forecasters had warned of a potentially “catastrophic” storm across the South, with more than an inch of ice possible in places. Snow was also forecast, with up to 3 inches possible in Atlanta overnight and much higher amounts in the Carolinas.

Ice combined with wind gusts up to 30 mph snapped tree limbs and power lines. More than 200,000 homes and businesses lost electricity in Georgia; South Carolina had about 245,000 outages; and North Carolina had around 100,000. Some people could be in the dark for days.

As he did for parts of Georgia, President Barack Obama declared a disaster in South Carolina, opening the way for federal aid. In Myrtle Beach, S.C., palm trees were covered with a thick crust of ice.

For the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, the heavy weather was the latest in an unending drumbeat of storms that have depleted cities’ salt supplies and caused school systems to run out of snow days.

The Raleigh area could get up to 4 inches of snow. Washington, D.C., could see around 8 inches, as could Boston. New York City could receive 6 inches. The Philadelphia area could get a foot or more, and Portland, Maine, may see 8 or 9 inches.

In Atlanta, which was caught badly unprepared by the last storm, area schools announced even before the first drop of sleet fell that they would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. Many businesses in the corporate capital of the South shut down, too.

Two weeks ago, thousands of children were stranded overnight in schools by less than 3 inches of snow, and countless drivers abandoned their cars after getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours.

Advertisement