South’s slow-motion freeze begins to relent

Allie Eidson, left, and Connor Howe, right, walk in the street of their snowbound neighborhood in Raleigh, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. The couple said they enjoyed the snow day at home by cooking and tossing snowballs in between their work. Howe, who does application engineering for a home smart metering company, spent the day working at home while Eidson, a junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, studied. (AP Photo/Emery P. Dalesio)

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — The deep freeze that killed 10 people and shut down much of the South began to relent Thursday, but several states were still dealing with the lingering effects of the slow-moving storm that dumped up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow in central North Carolina.

The snow had stopped by early morning in the Carolinas, but officials warned travelers to watch for black ice on roads. The storm that swept across the South on Tuesday dumped up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow near Durham on Wednesday.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory in effect for most of the Carolinas because of hazardous travel conditions, which were not expected to improve before midday Thursday.

Temperatures in North Carolina ranged from 3 degrees (-16 Celsius) in western North Carolina to 28 degrees (-2 Celsius) along the Outer Banks. Forecasters said an advisory warning of the dangers of black ice was likely to be issued for Friday morning as well.

In Atlanta, temperatures also remained well below freezing. Metro Atlanta’s commuter rail system was operating on a limited schedule as the city continued to recover from the snow and ice storm that brought the region to a standstill.

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority said in a statement that its rail lines would operate Thursday on the reduced schedule it offers on the weekends, with 20-minute intervals. MARTA buses also were offering limited service on major roads and those serving

Parts of Alabama reopened following a two-day shutdown, but much of the state remained in weather-related limbo.

The governor’s office said state offices would resume operations at noon Thursday, and some school systems in north and central Alabama returned to class with delayed openings.

Many roads still had icy spots after another night of freezing temperatures, so other school systems and counties won’t resume normal operations until Friday. Virtually all of south Alabama remained closed.

Problems are worst in areas that had the most snow and ice, about 3 inches. But school and government shutdowns extend all the way south to the Gulf Coast.

Forecasters say high temperatures Thursday should range from the upper 30s to the low 40s, helping melt the remaining ice.

From Charlotte to Raleigh, North Carolina’s five most populous cities all saw significant snow from a system that followed an atypical west-to-east path across the state — and moved more slowly than forecasters had predicted. One foot (30 centimeters) of snow was reported in Durham County by early Thursday morning. Winston-Salem and Greensboro each had about 7 inches (18 centimeters),

In northern Durham County, Ben Kimmel marveled as snow blew across his property all day Wednesday. Kimmel said he had propane to heat his house if he lost electricity and has extra water, too.

“This is really unusual for this area to have this much snow,” said the 49-year-old, who has lived in the state most of his life.

Kimmel said his shoveling priorities would be walkways for him and his wife, as well as their dogs.

“We have two little dogs that are not in the mood for this, so I’ll probably try to clear some paths for them,” he said.

Elsewhere, icicles hung from a statue of jazz musicians in normally balmy New Orleans on Wednesday, and drivers unaccustomed to ice spun their wheels across Atlanta, which was brought to a near-standstill by little more than an inch (2.5 centimeters) of snow.

At least four people died in Louisiana, including a man knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans when a pickup spun out on ice, and an 8-month-old baby in a car that slid into a canal in suburban New Orleans. The baby’s mother was in critical condition.

Two others died along an icy stretch of I-75 southeast of Atlanta when a driver lost control and hit them, one of them inside a stopped car and the other standing beside it, authorities said.

One person died in a weather-related traffic accident in West Virginia. In the freezing Houston area, a homeless man was found dead behind a trash bin, apparently of exposure, while an 82-year-old woman with dementia succumbed to the cold after walking away from her home. Also, a woman was discovered dead in a snowy park near City Hall in Memphis, Tennessee. The temperature was about 10 degrees (minus 12 Celsius) when she was found.

In North Carolina, state troopers responded to 1,600 crashes while Charlotte police reported another nearly 200 by late Wednesday. Gov. Roy Cooper said state officials weren’t aware of any fatalities. About 10,000 homes and businesses were without power early Thursday, including about half in Durham and Wake counties.

“This has been quite a white-out for our state,” Cooper said at a weather briefing late Wednesday. “This has been a slower-moving storm than anticipated so it’s dumping more snow on us.”

The cold drove soaring electrical usage in parts of the South, where many homes rely on electricity for heating and hot water. A regional electricity grid manager, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, asked Wednesday that customers in most of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and a slice of eastern Texas reduce their power usage Thursday morning after usage Wednesday hit a winter record. If supply can’t meet demand, local utilities would have to resort to rolling blackouts.

In South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster postponed his planned State of the State address Wednesday night by one week. South Carolina lawmakers took the rest of the week off because of the snow.

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Foreman reported from Winston-Salem. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Jack Jones in Columbia; Gary D. Robertson in Cary and Emery P. Dalesio in Raleigh; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama and Kate Brumback and Jeff Martin in Atlanta.

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