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Southeast to stay stuck another day as storms move northeast

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Skiing the Atlanta streets
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Overnight freeze will keep the Southeast stuck
  • NEW: The Southeast storm is expected to merge with another coming from the Plains
  • Traffic fatalities are reported in Mississippi, Alabama
  • School closings are stretching into Tuesday for much of the region

Check weather and airport delays with our travel tracker. Our photo gallery features scenes from the Southern snowstorm.
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(CNN) -- Most of the wintry precipitation had moved on by Monday night, but much of the South is likely to see white stuff on the ground until the weekend as an Arctic low slides in, bringing low temperatures in the teens and highs barely out of the 20s.

And a snow storm surging over the Plains and into the Ohio Valley promises to merge with the Southeast storm Tuesday night and slam into the Mid-Atlantic Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm brought treacherous travel conditions across the Southeast Monday, with schools and government offices shut down from Arkansas to the Atlantic. Those conditions aren't expected to change overnight as temperatures remain below freezing, making morning commutes on Tuesday no better.

In Atlanta, airlines canceled hundreds of flights Monday -- and plan to cancel more on Tuesday. AirTran spokesman Christopher White said the airline would begin operation "with a greatly reduced flight schedule" and warned that flights heading to the Northeast would likely be affected at least through Wednesday.

Delta, which canceled almost a third of its flights across the country Monday, said it planned at least 1,400 cancellations on Tuesday. Spokesman Anthony Black said the airline was keeping a close eye on the Northeast for late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Both airlines were offering one-time flight changes with no fees for a limited period.

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And if air travel was limited, road travel was nearly non-existent. Impassable roads were the norm across the region, although that didn't keep everyone at home -- particularly truckers trying to keep their schedules. And some of those truckers caused some of the problems.

Monday night in Atlanta, jackknifed tractor-trailers had blocked the east side of Interstate 285, which encircles the city, from Interstate 75 on the south to Interstate 85 on the northeast. Another had been stuck on fabled Peachtree Street in the city's Midtown district for hours.

Georgia emergency officials warned people to stay off the roads if at all possible from central Georgia north. Atlanta police were dealing with so many accidents that the department announced it would only work accidents with injuries and provided an online form for drivers to report others.

In Alabama, traffic accidents claimed two lives, one in Lowndes County and the other in Tuscaloosa County. Parts of the northern part of the state got 6 inches to 10 inches of snow, according to state Emergency Management spokeswoman Yasmie Richardson, and three-fourths of the state received snow or ice.

Mississippi emergency officials reported a single fatal traffic accident on Sunday as sleet began moving into the state.

No part of Carolinas was unaffected by the snows and ice, particularly the mountainous west where snowfalls of up to 18 inches were reported. North Carolina and South Carolina both expected freezing rain and sleet into Tuesday morning.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation reported extremely hazardous conditions in the mountainous east, but ice and snow was also causing problems in other parts of the state.

The governors of Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina declared states of emergency.

Double-digit snow depths were reported Monday in the Tennessee towns of Minor Hill (13 inches) and Lawrenceburg (11 inches), and in Oxford, Mississippi (10 inches). Other areas reporting heavy accumulations were Greenville, North Carolina (9 inches), Asheville, North Carolina (7 inches), and Huntsville, Alabama (7 inches). Canton, Georgia, and Greenville, South Carolina, each reported 6 inches.

Reported power outages were relatively few early Monday. About 2,300 homes in Louisiana and 4,000 in Mississippi lost power, according to authorities in those states, and power had been restored to most of them. Nearly 2,000 Georgia customers were out of power, according Georgia Electric Membership Corp, and Georgia Power reported 3,000 customers out.

But the snow brought out some revelers, too. In Kennesaw, northwest of Atlanta, Sarah DeRoch's daughter Gwyneth was bursting with anticipation of a whole day to play in the snow.

"She's been asking me every five minutes, 'Did they close the schools?'" DeRoch said.

In tiny Pine Lake, east of Atlanta, the city closed its steepest street to vehicular traffic -- but left it open for sledding. It drew dozens of kids (and adults) for a slippery ride down the street, a long trudge back up -- to an open fire pit, s'mores and hot chocolate.

Most Atlanta students also will be staying home Tuesday, as well, as the major school districts announced closings will stretch into another day, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The situation was much the same in other metro areas along the storm's route: Most school districts near Birmingham, Alabama; Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Charlotte, North Carolina, will be closed Tuesday, local media reported Monday.

As the storm pressed farther to the northeast Monday, New Jersey and Delaware went under winter storm warnings, while winter storm watches were in place in much of the Northeastern seaboard and New England. The National Weather Service predicted 5 inches to 8 inches in the Philadelphia area, 4 inches or more in northern New Jersey and 2 to 6 inches in southern Delaware from Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday morning.

In the Southeast, the National Weather Service expected a high approaching 40 on Tuesday -- but the Arctic front currently bringing snow into the Midwest would sink into the south, without the precipitation but with frigid temperatures.

While the snowstorm was a headache to drivers and businesses, it proved to be a help to police in one Georgia town.

Officers investigating a pre-dawn burglary at a liquor store in Dalton, Georgia, simply followed a set of tracks in the otherwise undisturbed snow from the store to a nearby apartment complex.

There, after knocking on the door where the footprints led, they found a pair of teenagers along with a backpack full of liquor bottles carrying stickers that matched bottles in the burglarized store. Two young men were arrested and charged with burglary and criminal destruction of property.

CNN's Holly Yan, Andy Rose, Nick Valencia, Cameron Tankersley and Brian Walker contributed to this report.