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Deep South grapples with yet another winter storm

Jenny Jarvie and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

ATLANTA -- People across the Deep South hunkered down Tuesday as yet another frigid winter storm blanketed the region in snow, sleet and ice, shutting down interstates, canceling flights and prompting officials to close schools and government offices.

Before dawn, flurries of snow fell across parts of Texas, Louisiana and Tennessee, causing traffic pileups and the termination of thousands of flights. In Houston, nearly 800 flights were canceled at George Bush Intercontinental Airport -- more than half of the airport's daily schedule. In Atlanta, more than 250 flights were canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The National Weather Service issued a gust of winter weather warnings and advisories across a vast swath of the U.S. from Texas to Massachusetts.

In Houston, city officials activated their emergency operations center and started referring residents to several churches converted into "warming centers." By afternoon, one church was already filed with 100 people, said Michael Walter, an emergency operations spokesman.

"We're not like Philadelphia or New York who deal with this regularly. We have limited resources," Walter said.

No deaths had been reported, but Walter said officials were concerned about the homeless and those still rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey.

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"There are still homes that have drywall missing, insulation missing, people who may not have working heaters," Walter said.

Even a light snowstorm can generate panic across the Southeast. Four years ago, just 2 inches of snow led to "Snowmageddon" in Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., as traffic gridlock prevented plows and salt trucks from clearing roads and interstates. Thousands of students were stranded in schools and motorists were stuck on icy highways overnight.

Already this winter, the Southeast has endured several bouts of frigid weather. In early December, a storm dumped snow as far south as Brownsville, Texas, and parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the southern Appalachians.

Two weeks ago, another winter storm scattered snow as far south as Tallahassee, Fla.

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