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Snowstorm sweeps across Southeast and up the East Coast

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Several inches of snow fall in some areas of the South
  • Most warnings and advisories are canceled
  • Up to 2 inches of snow coats northern Georgia
  • Snowfall snarls travel in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas

Check out CNN affiliates KATV, KOCO and KTVT for the latest on the storm. For up-to-the-moment travel delays, follow @CNNTravel. Submit your photos and video of the storm on CNN iReport.

Atlanta (CNN) -- A winter storm spread snow across the Southeast and the Tennessee Valley for the second time in two weeks early Thursday, dumping more than 6 inches in parts of the region.

The National Weather Service had warned that snow accumulation in some areas, combined with freezing temperatures, could lead to hazardous driving conditions. The system was dropping sleet and rain in addition to snow.

By late Thursday morning, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories that had been in effect in 10 states had largely expired, remaining in effect only in eastern North Carolina. Hard freeze warnings had stretched from Texas' border with Mexico into Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.

Even as those alerts expired, the Weather Service put new hard freeze warnings in place for Friday morning in central Mississippi, southeast Louisiana and southern Texas.

The agency had warned that snow accumulation in some areas, combined with freezing temperatures, could lead to hazardous driving conditions late Wednesday and into Thursday morning. The system was dropping sleet and rain in addition to snow.

"I've been here a long time and I've never seen anything like it," said Sharon Hickman, who manages Back Yard Burgers in Tupelo, Mississippi.

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Nearly a half foot of snow fell in Tupelo. Freezing temperatures Thursday morning made Hickman's commute to work "scary."

"There was a lot of slipping and sliding and cars in ditches," said Mischel Wright, who manages Log Cabin Family Restaurant in Rogers, Arkansas. "My grandchildren love it. Me, there's nothing I can do about it. It's all God. You just have to deal with it."

In Atlanta, however, drivers were relieved to find the metropolitan area received only a dusting of snow and the roads were mostly clear Thursday morning as the temperature hovered around freezing. About a half-inch had fallen in the city, with up to an inch elsewhere and up to 2 inches in the northern part of the state. Accumulation was mainly restricted to grassy areas.

Nearly the entire northern half of Alabama had received snow by 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to CNN affiliate WBRC. Snowfalls of at least an inch were reported, with the heaviest snowfall in west Alabama.

Many offices and schools across the South delayed opening or were to remain closed Thursday.

The weather system dumped significant levels of snow and ice on Missouri and Oklahoma, along with parts of Kentucky, Arkansas and the panhandle of Texas on Wednesday.

In Arkansas, youngsters got a chance to work on their sledding skills Wednesday, because schools were closed in advance of the approaching system. The snow fell for nine hours in Hot Springs, according to CNN affiliate KATV. Some sections of the state got up to 2 feet of snow, the Weather Service said.

Wright and her husband checked into a motel in Rogers before the storm so she could make it to work at the Log Cabin Family Restaurant.

"We can't go home because we can't navigate the hills," Wright said Thursday morning.

Neither could those customers who live too far away from the restaurant to walk.

"Yesterday afternoon we did have two or three families with kids that were going nuts," Wright said. "I don't know what today's going to be like."

In parts of Kansas and Kentucky, road crews hustled to clear snow from interstates and highways Wednesday. Snow fell furiously; wind pushed it sideways and at times the sky took on the look of a white-out. This forced travelers to slow their pace to a crawl.

Dangerous conditions near Newton, Kentucky, prevented vehicles from getting traction on hills and sent some sliding off roads and into gullies and ravines.

Snow closed schools in parts of Missouri as well. About 2 inches of snow fell in Kansas City, Missouri, but it was enough to cause several accidents and cover roads in the southeast part of the state.

Parts of Oklahoma received up to 12 inches of snow, according to the state Department of Emergency Management. The National Weather Service reported up to 2 feet of snow in remote areas.

O.D. Powell, owner of OD's Fastop in Claremont, Oklahoma, said Thursday the beer delivery truck is now 10 days behind schedule.

"I have a grocery delivery that comes out of Texas," Powell said. "The driver called yesterday from Oklahoma City and said he couldn't make it

As the snow fell in the heartland Wednesday, wind chills were 10 to 30 degrees below zero in some areas, and authorities urged people to stay off the roads. Not all travelers were able to heed that warning, and traffic inched slowly along icy interstates. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol worked in conjunction with the National Guard to rescue stranded motorists using heavy Humvees, according to CNN affiliate KOCO.

Wind chills across the northern and central Plains were well below freezing early Thursday.

At least two people were killed near Miami, Oklahoma, which is close to Oklahoma City. A truck plunged 80 feet off a bridge along Interstate 44. Police told KOCO that the driver lost control on an icy bridge, flipped over the railing and landed upright on the riverbed below. At least five survivors were able to climb out of the sun roof and wait for rescue on top of the vehicle.

Earlier, the Oklahoma State Department of Health said 80 people in Oklahoma had been injured as a result of the storm. That total included 63 falls, one carbon monoxide poisoning, 14 injuries in traffic accidents and two "cut/pierce injuries."

Dallas-area volunteers for Meals on Wheels, an aid organization that delivers prepared food to housebound people, worked nonstop to get extra meals ready before snow and icy conditions closed roads, according to CNN affiliate KTVT. The weather system that closed Dallas last week left the group unable to reach its customers for four days. Tom Hauser, with the Collin County Committee on Aging, which runs the Meals on Wheels program, told KTVT Wednesday. "We've already delivered over 2,500 meals in the last two days that are nutritious meals."

The latest storm came barely a week after another record-setting weather system pummeled the Plains and Midwest.

Last week's historic storm left its mark on at least 30 states, dumping about 2 feet of snow on the Chicago area and prompting Oklahoma's governor to declare a state of emergency.

Another winter system at the end of the week left central and southern Texas a mess. Hundreds of flights were canceled as the winter weather threatened the plans of Super Bowl enthusiasts headed for the game last Sunday in Arlington, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.

 
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