Fatal US ice storm turns Atlanta into parking lot, strands countless numbers – Reuters

Icicles are seen forming on a fountain during winter at Jackson Square Park in New Orleans, Louisiana January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

(Reuters) – A uncommon ice storm turned Atlanta into a slippery mess on Wednesday, stranding countless numbers for hrs on blocked roadways and raising concerns about how town leaders well prepared for and handled the cold snap that slammed the U.S. South.

The storm, which has killed at the very least 7 folks, on Tuesday swept over a location of about 60 million mainly unaccustomed to ice and snow – stretching from Texas by means of Ga and into the Carolinas – and showed no sign of abating on Thursday.

“Forecast: one hundred p.c likelihood of frustration,” go through an entry on the Atlanta Journal-Structure Twitter feed.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed arrived below fireplace for his reaction to a storm that trapped hundreds of young children in faculties right away, some with no provisions, and developed targeted traffic jams that stretched for miles on roads coated with barely two inches of snow.

He said colleges, companies and authorities places of work ended up partly to blame for sending individuals residence just as the storm was rolling in.

“In the course of the working day, we have a million to one.two million individuals in this town and all people folks had been out in extremely negative weather conditions. It hampered our potential to get our tools on the floor and to put together our streets for that,” Reed advised a news conference.

“The error – and we have shared duty for the error – the mistake was allowing every person out at when, which caused targeted traffic jams,” he explained.

The city’s highways turned parking plenty and 1000’s of motorists, nonetheless trapped 24 hrs soon after the storm strike, had been searching for support and meals. Personnel who couldn’t get residence have been trying to discover makeshift lodging in merchants and workplaces.

About 800 targeted traffic incidents were documented in the city, but there have been no significant injuries, he said. At the very least five deaths in Alabama and two in Georgia have been blamed on the weather.

Airlines scrubbed 1000’s of flights at airports from Houston to Atlanta, with some 500 canceled early Wednesday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest.

For southern Louisiana, the ice and chilly had been the worst the location has observed in a 10 years. In accordance to the Southeast Regional Weather Heart, the yearly snowfall common for Atlanta is about two.1 inches.


“We are all in this collectively and we will get through it collectively,” read a assertion from police in Anniston, Alabama. “What was to be a simple dusting (of snow) has turned into something more. None of us ended up geared up.”

Forecasters predicted tiny reduction, with temperatures not likely to increase considerably earlier mentioned freezing prolonged ample to thaw ice-coated roadways and bridges, before dipping under freezing yet again across the Southeast early on Thursday.

Precipitation was predicted to ease later in the morning, and the wintry blend of snow, sleet and ice experienced moved farther up the East Coast on Wednesday from Ga through Maryland, where motorists were warned to remain off the roadways, and some colleges ended up getting closed.

A Facebook web page known as “Stranded Motorists Support Jan 28, 2014″ which has more than 10,000 associates, presently had amassed entries from stranded motorists and volunteers striving to assist them following the working day-lengthy gridlock in the Atlanta metro region.

Echo Garrett of Atlanta stated a excellent friend of hers remained marooned on I-285 Wednesday.

“She’s practically out of cell mobile phone battery, no h2o, no food. No rescue automobiles,” Garrett mentioned in a information to Reuters.

Atlanta faculty officials mentioned on CNN that forecasts “drastically changed” following pupils experienced already been instructed to come to course.

In Birmingham, Alabama, authorities mentioned a deficiency of warning about the treacherous roads led to countless numbers getting caught on streets, in shelters and in faculties, with snow clearing autos obtaining been at first directed south of the town, in which the icy conditions have been expected to hit.

“We proceeded to have faculty and have people go to their employment,” Mayor William Bell said. “When it arrived, it was as well late.”

The roads and Interstates there experienced started to obvious later on Wednesday morning in Birmingham, with no injuries documented and no additional stranded motorists, law enforcement stated.

Sections of main roadways remained closed in Louisiana around New Orleans, including the 24-mile Causeway Bridge spanning Lake Pontchartrain.

As the ice was becoming cleared in Louisiana on Wednesday, some airlines resumed restricted services right after nearly 24 hours of cancellations at Louis Armstrong New Orleans Intercontinental Airport.

Authorities in Atlanta rescued about 50 college youngsters, whose buses had been stranded overnight on an ice-slicked street, district officials mentioned. Hundreds of other students remained sheltered in schools and other areas.

“We’re feeding them we are seeing movies, eating pizza,” Principal Matt Rogers of E. Rivers Elementary stated of the 95 students keeping there. “It is like a sleepover.”

In Birmingham, about 800 college students remained in their educational institutions, secure and fed, early on Wednesday, Bell said.

“We realize that is not excellent sufficient for mothers and fathers who want to hold their young children in their arms,” Bell stated. “We are carrying out all we can to reunite children with their mothers and fathers.”

(Additional reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta, Verna Gates in Birmingham, Alabama Kathy Finn in New Orleans Harriet McLeod on Charleston, South Carolina Producing by Jon Herskovitz modifying by Gunna Dickson)

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