Frigid temperatures, ice and snow prompt emergencies in Southeast

By Susan McFarland  |  Updated Jan. 17, 2018 at 6:55 PM
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Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A winter storm that's pelted the southeastern United States with ice and snow produced treacherous travel conditions and extremely cold temperatures Wednesday.

Ahead of the storm, governors North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama declared states of emergencies, which allows officials to direct the appropriate state agencies to help communities affected by the winter storm. In some states such as North Carolina, the declaration also triggers a price-gouging law.

The snow and ice stretched from Texas to the Carolinas and even down into Florida -- resulting in road closures, flight cancellations, school and business closures and pileups on ice-covered highways.

On Wednesday, more than 1,500 flights were cancelled and more than 10,000 flights were delayed, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking service. The tracker doesn't specifically say how many delays and cancellations are weather related but the company's "Misery Map" shows a visualization of where they occurred, with most being linked to storm-ravaged areas.

In Atlanta, Interstate 85 was shut down due to a 10-vehicle pileup, officials said. In central Kentucky, a multi-vehicle wreck that involved a Greyhound bus, two cars and at least four tractor-trailers shut down southbound lanes of Interstate 65.

Some of the coldest temperatures in the South were in Tennessee, where wind chill reached 10 below zero. In Mississippi, the Department of Transportation on Wednesday reported ice on roadways in every county.

In Houston, officials said a homeless person died from hypothermia and temperatures in the city dipped to 20 degrees early Wednesday. Dozens of vehicles were stranded for hours along several miles on U.S. Highway 59, including multiple 18-wheelers that had jack-knifed.

Thousands in Louisiana were without electricity on Wednesday, a day after more than 60,000 lost power in Texas.

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