Commuters in US South face tough trek after deadly storm


A man was killed when he was knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans and an 8-month-old baby died in a auto crash in suburban New Orleans, local news reports said.

And the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled classes as the storm unloaded at least 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow in Durham and Greensboro.

"Some of those areas where we had a foot of snow are looking rough out there this morning", WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. The storm is not expected to be a blockbuster event and there should be relief later in the day. About half were in Chatham County, with other major outages in Durham, Lee and Wake Counties. Federal government offices were delaying opening for two hours on Thursday. In North Carolina, where more than 2,000 snow-plow personnel worked to clear roads, the state Highway Patrol reported almost 1,600 traffic accidents during the first 12 hours of Wednesday.

Mark Foley, 24, struggled to start his pickup in the 15-degree air before he was able to go pick up an in-home health aide for his disabled father.

"My lock was frozen, so I couldn't even unlock the door. So I had to use some warm water", he said.

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Drivers unaccustomed to ice spun their wheels across Atlanta, which was brought to a near-standstill by little more than an inch (2.5 centimeters) of snow. Early Thursday in Washington County of North Carolina, a person was killed when a auto slid off an icy road, said Julia Jarema of the state's emergency management department.

Cooper said the state Highway Patrol responded to more than 1,600 crashes, and Charlotte police reported almost 200 more by late afternoon.

Authorities across the South urged drivers to stay off treacherous roads.

"As we have continuously stated, travel should be avoided unless absolutely necessary", McNeill said. "And you don't want to get your auto all salted up like a salt lick".

John Rhyne, a maintenance engineer with the DOT in the central part of the state, said he's proud of his crews' ability to clear roads in the region even after this week's daunting totals.

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"The snow is pretty but don't be fooled", Cooper said. "But it is the South. Hopefully, we won't get a lot accumulation on our roads".

Duke Energy reported about 10,000 customers without service in the Carolinas.

"We can not stress it enough for everyone to stay off the roads unless you have no choice", North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement, adding the storm had caused 1,600 traffic accidents. A driver and passenger died after their auto skidded off the road in Washington County.

"Tonight, temperatures will drop below freezing", Cooper said. "We saw those crashes this morning and unless you stay off the road, there will be more of them". But they'll fall to 22 again Thursday night, which means melted ice will re-freeze.

However, much of the Southeast and Deep South experienced rare snow followed by freezing rain and and record low temperatures.

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Cooper declared a statewide emergency Tuesday to allow him to deploy resources ahead of trouble.