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Ice storm threatens Southeast; flights canceled

Story Highlights

• Temperature dropping in Atlanta area; rain on radar
• Rain, sleet, freezing rain expected across Southeast
• Delta canceling about 200 flights to avoid passenger delays
• Airline is calling passengers to rebook flights
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- A winter storm aimed its chilly sights at north Georgia, poised to deliver an icy sheen Thursday to areas north of Atlanta as cold air from the west collided with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

By 9 p.m., temperatures across the metro Atlanta area had dropped below freezing and were still falling. Light rain -- most of it not reaching the ground -- was observed on radar moving eastward into far western Georgia.

Delta Air Lines planned to cancel about 200 flights late Wednesday and early Thursday as freezing rain and sleet were forecast for Georgia, including parts of the Atlanta area, a Delta spokeswoman said.

The airline, whose main hub is at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, was trying to ease delays for travelers, said spokeswoman Betsy Talton. By canceling the flights late Wednesday, she said, Delta reduces the number of Atlanta flights that will require deicing.

Delta was contacting customers on the canceled flights, Talton said, and they were being rebooked.

But the winter weather isn't confined to the Southeast. The National Weather Service issued snow advisories for the panhandle of Texas and most of Oklahoma, except the far southeast corner of the state, with accumulations of up to 3 inches expected overnight in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Ice forecast across part of South

In the South, winter storm warnings continue for north Georgia, the mountains of Tennessee and the western Carolinas.

Winter weather advisories are in effect for northern Alabama and central Georgia, where ice accumulation is expected to be less than one-quarter inch.

The weather service expected sleet to move into northern Georgia late Wednesday night and turn to freezing rain in Atlanta with total accumulations of one-quarter to one-half inch of ice by midmorning Thursday.

The freezing rain is expected to turn to rain by midafternoon.

Snow, sleet and freezing rain are expected to develop overnight with snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches by Thursday morning in Charlotte, North Carolina, the weather service said. The snow will turn to freezing rain by midmorning, with ice accumulations of up to a half inch possible by Thursday afternoon, it said.

Farther to the north, light freezing rain is expected in the Washington, D.C. metro area on Thursday night and then turn to snow, with 1 to 2 inches of snow accumulation expected by Friday morning, the weather service said.

Snow socked the Plains on its way east on Wednesday, at one point causing a 30-vehicle traffic pileup in Kansas City, Kansas, that forced the closure of a 12-block section of I-35 for 2 hours, said Jim Weaver, a spokesman for the Overland Park Police Department. No fatalities or major injuries were reported.

Delta flights out of Atlanta were being canceled Wednesday because of the approaching storm.



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