The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 13, 2014

Southern jam: Snow and ice storm swirls into region and wreaks havoc

From Atlanta to Beckley to North Carolina and the mid-Atlantic, winter just won’t give up

By Kate Brumback and Christina A. Cassidy
The Associated Press

— 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 hours-long 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 Thursday to the already sick-of-winter mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

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

The situation in North Carolina was eerily similar to what happened 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.

Soo Keith, of Raleigh, left work about a little after noon, thinking she would have plenty of time to get home before the worst of the snow hit.

Instead, Keith drove a few miles in about two hours and decided to park and start walking.

With a blanket draped over her shoulders, she made it home more than four hours later, likening her journey to the blizzard scene in the movie “Dr. Zhivago.”

Forecasters 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 around 100,000. Some people could be in the dark for days.

In Myrtle Beach, S.C., palm trees were covered with a thick crust of ice.

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.