Monday, February 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Weather

Another winter storm expected to slam the South

A winter storm stretching across the Southeast from Texas to Virginia and north as far as Philadelphia is expected to generate inches of snow, sleet and freezing rain this week.

Many of the same cities pummeled by ice and snow two weeks ago were expected to be hit again over the next three days.

In Georgia, where a winter storm Jan. 28 left drivers trapped in cars on interstates for hours, officials responded before snow started falling. Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for nearly a third of the state Monday, and state employees were told they could stay home the next day if they felt conditions were too dangerous. Schools canceled classes, and Deal urged people who didn't need to be anywhere to stay off the roads. Tractor-trailer drivers were handed fliers about the weather and a law requiring tire chains in certain conditions.

The swift response came on the heels of heavy criticism of state and city officials in Atlanta after the January storm.

Rain in Atlanta on Tuesday was to turn into snow and ice into the afternoon and keep falling. The National Weather Service's winter storm warning extended across much of the South and is in effect until noon Thursday.

"This could be a crippling storm for this part of the country," Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez said.

Other parts of the South were expected to be affected. Alabama, which saw stranded vehicles and 10,000 students spend the night in schools during the January storm, was likely to get a wintry mix, with as much as 3 inches of snow and ice forecast before lunchtime Tuesday.

Parts of Mississippi also could see 3 inches of snow. In Kentucky, a blast of snow over a wide section slickened roads and closed several school districts. South Carolina, which hasn't seen a major ice storm in nearly a decade, could get a quarter to three-quarters of an inch of ice and as much as 8 inches of snow in some areas.

Marquez said the boundary created by the storm will keep weather warm and sunny in Tampa Bay on Tuesday. But local travelers hoping to fly out of Tampa International Airport might be disappointed. Nearly 900 flights were canceled Tuesday at airports in Atlanta, Dallas and Charlotte, N.C., according to tracking service FlightAware. That will likely create a domino effect here.

Tampa International Airport's website showed 16 canceled flights about 7:30 a.m., primarily to or from Charlotte and Atlanta. Those airports are major hubs for Delta and other airlines, meaning that even delays could cause serious local backup in flights. Airport officials generally advise checking your flight's status before heading to the airport.

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