Ice storm causes traffic jam in South; 11 dead due to weather
The scene was markedly different from the one Jan. 28, when thousands of children were stranded all night 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 and hours.
"I think some folks would even say they were a little trigger-happy to go ahead and cancel schools yesterday, as well as do all the preparation they did," said Matt Altmix, who was out walking his dog in Atlanta. "But it's justified."
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who was widely criticized over his handling of the last storm, sounded an upbeat note this time.
"Thanks to the people of Georgia. You have shown your character," he said.
Amy Cuzzort, who spent six hours in her car during the Atlanta traffic standstill in January, said she would spend this storm at home, "doing chores, watching movies — creepy movies, 'The Shining'" — about a writer who goes mad while trapped in a hotel during a snowstorm.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory urged people to charge their cellphones and find batteries for radios and flashlights because the storm could bring nearly a foot of snow in places such as Charlotte.
"Stay smart. Don't put your stupid hat on at this point in time. Protect yourself. Protect your family. Protect your neighbors," McCrory said.
Kathy Davies Muzzey of Wilmington, N.C., said she hid the car keys from her husband, John, because he was thinking about driving to Chapel Hill for the Duke-North Carolina basketball game. He has missed only two games between the rivals since he left school in the late 1960s. His wife made the right call: The game was postponed.
"He's a fanatic — an absolute fanatic," she said.
In an warning issued early Wednesday, National Weather Service called the storm across the South "catastrophic ... crippling ... paralyzing ... choose your adjective."
Meteorologist Eli Jacks noted that three-quarters of an inch of ice would be catastrophic anywhere.
However, the South is particularly vulnerable: Many trees are allowed to hang over power lines for the simple reason that people don't normally have to worry about ice and snow snapping off limbs.
Three people were killed when an ambulance careened off an icy West Texas road and caught fire. On Tuesday, four people died in weather-related traffic accidents in North Texas, including a Dallas firefighter who was knocked from an I-20 ramp and fell 50 feet. In Mississippi, two traffic deaths were reported.
Also, a Georgia man apparently died of hypothermia after spending hours outside during the storm, a coroner said. In North Carolina, a woman was killed Tuesday when her car slid off a snow-covered road.
Associated Press writers Ray Henry, Jeff Martin and Peter Prengaman in Atlanta; Martha Waggoner, Michael Biesecker and Emery P. Dalesio in Raleigh, N.C.; Bruce Smith in Charleston, S.C.; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Ala.; and Russ Bynum in Savannah, Ga., contributed to this report.
Follow Christina Almeida Cassidy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/AP—Christina.