Winter storm dodges Atlanta, weighs down parts of North Carolina

Story highlights

  • Unanticipated, widespread power outages the big problem in North Carolina
  • A University of Mississippi student dies in a sledding accident
  • Bad weather contributes to miles-long backups in Alabama and Georgia

Atlanta (CNN)This is a tale of two storms.

The one that (kind of) hit Atlanta and the one that hit everywhere else.
Atlanta's was anti-climactic. Everywhere else was worse. Ask folks along a line from Arkansas to Virginia.
    Unlike last year, when city officials were caught completely by surprise, Atlanta was prepared this time. But the storm stayed north of town.
    It did do some damage, slicking up roads and knocking out power to tens of thousands of people.
    Still, Snowmageddon 2015 it wasn't.

    Just can't win

    Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal did his part. He ordered a state of emergency for 51 northern counties.
    Authorities were ready too. There were more snow plows, more trucks to spread brine and they were out in force ahead of the bad weather.
    And people helped out by staying home or leaving work early.
    Still, social media wasn't about to give the governor a break.
    "As a stockholder of a grocery store here, I appreciate you guys invoking a false panic again. #ATLsnow," tweeted Tommy Sale.
    North of the city, there was lots of snow, especially in the mountains, but Atlanta mainly got rain.
    It was a disappointing prospect for those who had their hearts set on making a snowman from a rare snowfall.
    "Serious question, how am I supposed to build a snowman with rain?" asked Angelica Monteon.
    "lol, a little imagination and your freezer," responded Ashley Hamilton.

    Across the South

    Other parts of the South found enough snow to put together more than your basic snowman.
    In northeast Mississippi they were channeling "Star Wars" and the ice planet Hoth in creating a snowy version of an Imperial walker.
    In Alabama, the snow inspired a host of Elsas, Annas and Olafs to spread their wintry magic "Frozen" style.

    Moving on

    By early Thursday, the storm system had largely left the Deep South behind, instead spreading a blanket of white on the Carolinas and northward.
    North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory noted that this marked the second time in two years that a major winter storm covered his entire state. There were no casualties or major injuries, thankfully, but the central part of the state got up to 7 inches while a few inches fell in the east.
    It wasn't just that snow fell, but the type of snow -- heavy stuff that snapped branches and weighed down power lines, especially in Durham and Wake counties. That led to some 224,000 Duke Energy customers being in the dark at one point, a number that had fallen to about 78,000 by 6:25 p.m. Thursday.
    "The biggest issue for us, especially Greensboro to the east, was power outages," McCrory said. "That is something that ... we didn't anticipate."
    Thankfully, though, North Carolinians were ready in other ways. They heeded officials' warnings by stocking up, staying off the roads and staying safe.

    Left behind

    The storm did leave behind its share of slippery misery.
    North of Atlanta, Interstate 75 was in gridlock Wednesday afternoon.
    Catching flights was a nightmare in some southern cities. Atlanta, Dallas and Charlotte were the hardest hit. Some 1,600 flights were canceled at all U.S. airports on Wednesday. Nearly 900 have been scrubbed for Thursday.
    Traffic headed north on I-65 was backed up for miles on February 25, 2015, as snow, ice and sleet made driving difficult.
    In Alabama, Joe Day and some friends thought it would be better for them to drive home to Evansville, Indiana, instead of worrying with canceled flights. They didn't make it far. They were stuck on I-65 about 30 miles north of Birmingham. Day says a hill and snow-covered roadways led to backed-up traffic for miles.
    In Tennessee, 30 weather-related deaths have been reported in the past 10 days.
    A small child died in Mississippi after the car she was in hydroplaned. And a student from the University of Mississippi in Oxford was killed in a sledding accident Wednesday.

    It's only snow

    The South's fascination with snow is a bit bemusing for those who live north of the Mason-Dixon line.
    After all, in Boston, they were over winter about 70 inches ago.
    "How's the snow treating you, southern US folks? Having fun yet?" asked Canadian L.M. Murphy on Twitter.
    "DON'T MOCK OUR SOUTHERN SNOW PANIC!" warned Whitney Waddell in Nashville.
    And then there was this bit of empathy from points north.
    "I love all the snow pictures of my southern friends because they actually appreciate the snow," tweeted Abby Kreuser.
    That's probably easier to do when you're not buried up to your eyeballs in it.