Carolinas regaining power after storm
RALEIGH, North Carolina (CNN) -- Power was being restored Friday to thousands of people in the Carolinas left in the dark during a deadly winter storm which left frigid temperatures, travel disruptions and a coating of snow in its wake.
In the early-morning hours some highways were coated with ice, but state officials said the sun was quickly warming the roads. Roads were expected to ice up again in the evening and overnight. Up to 14 inches of snow fell in some parts of the state.
"Stay home," Gov. Mike Easley told residents, urging them to stay off the roads. "Have fun. Build a snowman. Go sledding with the kids."
North Carolina state offices remained open, but offices in South Carolina were closed for a second day.
The storm moved out to sea late Thursday, but a mix of cold rain and snow is forecast for the South for Sunday.
Throughout the South, particularly in the Carolinas, some schools and business either opened late or closed for the day.
"We're not experienced in driving in snow and ice here, so the prudent thing is to have people off the roadway during a situation like this," said Joe Farmer, a spokesman for the South Carolina Emergency Preparedness Division.
Delta Air Lines said Friday it was close to resuming its normal flight schedule at its Atlanta hub after the storm snarled air traffic and inconvenienced thousands of passengers.
Heavy snow caused the airline to cancel about 122 of its 2,100 regularly scheduled flights Friday. The airline canceled 611 flights Thursday and 582 Wednesday. Most of them were among the 865 flights scheduled daily from Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, the world's busiest airport.
Many passengers had been stuck on planes on the tarmac for as long as eight hours. They complained the airline didn't let them off the planes for hours.
"We apologize to our customers whose travel plans were severely disrupted and we deeply regret the delays and discomfort they experienced," Delta said in a statement issued Thursday.
Hazardous road conditions
Icy conditions created particularly dangerous driving in parts the South.
Fourteen weather-related traffic fatalities had been reported in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi and Virginia since the storm began late Wednesday. Police and highway patrols also responded to hundreds of fender-benders, and abandoned vehicles dotted some roads.
In North Carolina, two state troopers were injured in separate accidents on Interstate 95 when they were hit by trucks after they came to the aid of motorists. One of the injured troopers was outside his car when he was hit Thursday; the other trooper was sitting inside his vehicle early Friday when it was struck.
"What happens of course in the South when you have snow is it tends to melt a little bit in the day and then refreezes at night, and so it's still a sheet of ice out there on the highways," said Easley, North Carolina's governor. "If we can just keep people off road for another day, I think we'll be all right."
Friday morning, about 6,500 people were without power in North Carolina, but a state official said most service should be restored by day's end. In South Carolina, about 8,000 customers were without power in the afternoon, less than half the number Friday morning and one-quarter the number at the storm's peak.
Travel and traffic were troublesome, state officials said, but things could have been worse.
"People were smart," said Farmer, in South Carolina. "They stayed home in large part. They enjoyed an extended holiday."
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