South braces for snow, sleet -- and ice

Story highlights

  • Georgia and Alabama declare state of emergency; N.C. considers it
  • Tennessee officials report 30 weather-related deaths in past week

(CNN)A few weeks ago, metro Atlanta residents gleefully noted that a Georgia groundhog, ahem, failed to see his shadow -- a sure sign of an early Southern spring.

Looks like it won't be all that early.
Forecasters are calling for a wintry mix of precipitation Wednesday into Thursday from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Carolinas and southern Virginia.
    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley declared a state of emergency, with ice, sleet, snow and freezing rain expected in various parts of the state.
    In North Carolina, Gov. Pat McCrory said he was prepared to declare a state of emergency, with back-to-back storms expected to bring measurable snowfall to most of the state by the weekend. One person was killed Tuesday when a car apparently slid off a slick road and struck a tree, McCrory's office said. More than 1,700 collisions were reported since Tuesday morning.
    Tennessee has reported 30 weather-related deaths in the past eight days, including car accidents, cases of carbon monoxide poisoning and hypothermia. As of Tuesday evening, there were 32,600 customers without power over six counties. Things will get interesting again by Wednesday afternoon.
    In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered state government offices in 50 northern counties closed on Wednesday and declared a state of emergency for disaster preparedness, starting at 2 p.m.
    "With forecasts showing we could see accumulation by 4 p.m., I want to make sure we get as many commuters home before then as possible," Deal said. State and local officials were heavily criticized for their response to a January 2014 storm that left a traffic nightmare and motorists stranded. Officials stress they have been well-prepared for this season's weather.
    The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning in north Georgia for Wednesday through Thursday, with snow, rain and subfreezing temperatures in some areas.
    In addition, a fresh blast of Arctic air will swirl into the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains, cooling much of the eastern two-thirds of the country later this week. That means the Plains states will see temperatures more than 30 degrees below average Thursday and Friday. The Northeast will awake Thursday and Friday with temperatures 20 to 25 degrees below average.
    In case you've forgotten, Southerners aren't good with ice.
    And we're not talking just a little bit into the South, ice is possible nearly to the Gulf Coast.
    Officially, forecasters call it a wintry mix. That's code for snow, sleet, rain and freezing rain. Weather advisories are posted from east Texas to Virginia.
    Here's what the the nation is facing and how it's coping.

    Slip sliding away

    An American Airlines plane skidded off a taxiway at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Monday night. The pilot was taxiing to the terminal when the plane got stuck. No one was hurt.

    Louisiana alligators say what?

    Lake Charles, Louisiana, is only 30 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, yet freezing rain is in the forecast. The gators say this is a croc.

    Not quite the Winter Olympics

    Even though it's been on the chilly side for the last week -- virtually a lifetime for folks below the Mason-Dixon line -- Southerners still have a ways to go before perfecting their winter sports skills.

    Blame it on the Snow Queen

    Look for a scapegoat when all else (or is that all Elsa?) fails. Police officers in Hanahan, South Carolina, tried to put the impending storm on ice by arresting the Disney princess lookalike.
    Sure it was a noble cause, but at what cost? How many little girls will cry themselves to sleep thinking Elsa is behind bars?
    "Elsa" arrested for cold weather

    Snow profits

    While the South struggles with winter, a Boston man has found a way to profit from it. For $89, he'll express ship 6 pounds of snow to anywhere in the United States. It's packed in a Styrofoam container so it shouldn't melt too much. Ship Snow, Yo sold out the first day and with 70 inches of the white stuff on the ground, the company should be able to fill orders for some time to come.

    Editorial forecast

    You know winter has gone on too long when the New York Times writes an editorial about it. Trying to ease the Big Apple out of its cabin fever, the headline simply reads: "This Winter Has Gotten Old."
    Actually there's not much hope in the article, except that "New Yorkers are relieved not to live in Boston. Bostonians, snow-buried, may be grateful not to be on the ice planet Hoth, where it's Boston winter everywhere, all the time."

    Florida gloats

    And, if the snow and ice weren't bad enough, Floridians are acting all superior about their good fortunes. A week ago, parts of the Sunshine state were in the deep freeze. Now they're getting cocky.
    "A ridiculous 84 in Orlando today!" tweets meteorologist Tom Terry. "Soaking in the warm air as another ice/snow storm hammers the South."
    Is hate too strong a word?