ATLANTA — Temperatures plummeted late Monday, turning slushy streets into sheets of ice across the southern U.S. states that are more accustomed to sunshine than snow. The wintry blast grounded flights, cut power to thousands of homes and even forced Auburn University to cancel viewing parties for the championship game.
The storm shut down most cities and towns, closed many businesses, and canceled most flights at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world's busiest. More than 2,000 flights were canceled around the South. At least nine people were killed in weather-related traffic accidents.
As much as a foot of snow blanketed states from Louisiana to the Carolinas. In many areas, the snow began turning to freezing rain, making roads even more treacherous.
In Atlanta, state officials were forced to move Monday's inauguration of newly elected Gov. Nathan Deal from the Capitol steps inside to the shelter of the House chamber. Shoppers left grocery store shelves bare, and families without electricity huddled in dark, chilly homes. Predicted overnight lows in the 20s raised the threat of more outages as snow and freezing rain accumulated on branches and power lines.
Atlanta, which got as much as 7 inches, has just eight snow plows. The city hired a fleet of 11 privately run trucks to help spread salt and gravel. The heaviest snow fell in parts of Tennessee that received as much as 13 inches.
The governors of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee declared emergencies.