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Southern states hit by snow, ice

  |   Jan. 10, 2011 at 9:52 PM
ATLANTA, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- A major winter storm system barreled through the southeastern United States Monday, leaving snow and ice in areas normally spared by rough winter weather.

Storms that hit the South and the Midwest this weekend are expected to combine to form a snowstorm in the Northeast, with the heaviest snowfall coming in New Jersey through southeastern New England, AccuWeather.com reported Monday. The storm is likely to cause major travel problems and school closings, the report said.

The storm is expected to be followed by very cold temperatures.

Monday's wintry mix, on a line from northeast Texas through the Virginias, forced schools to cancel classes and created travel chaos, CNN reported.

At least two deaths in Alabama and one in Mississippi were blamed on weather-related collisions.

Forecasters said heavy snow and freezing rain caused major travel problems from Texas to the Virginias. Freezing rain and below-freezing temperatures through Tuesday could encrust trees and power lines, possibly causing power outages, forecasters said.

Snow is expected to continue falling in the Appalachians through Tuesday.

At midday Monday numerous state highways and interstate ramps were closed throughout the South and interstates including 20, 26, 220, 49 and 65, were either closed or impassable at some point, AccuWeather.com said. Officials in Georgia cautioned against any travel until Tuesday.

Departing and arriving flights were canceled or delayed in Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; Memphis and Dallas.

Airlines canceled hundreds of flights in Atlanta Monday and said more would be canceled Tuesday, CNN reported. One airline official said flights bound for the U.S. Northeast would be affected at least through Wednesday and Delta said it would cancel at least 1,400 flights Tuesday.

Utility companies in Georgia reported thousands of customers were without power early Monday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Chuck Meadows told CNN he dodged "slipping and sliding" vehicles on Interstate 20 on his way home from watching an NFL game Sunday.

"It was traumatic ... the near misses," Meadows said Monday. "A large pickup slid toward me on the highway before I decided to get off the highway. There was a hill that a number of people got stuck on."

The flight cancellations created a domino effect on air travel across the country, CNN reported.

Governors in Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia declared states of emergency in preparation for worsening conditions.

The Journal-Constitution reported snow depths of 5-7 inches in parts of Georgia around dawn Monday.

Authorities warned that travel likely would be dangerous along major interstates throughout the south.

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