Image: Snow in Richmond, Va.
P. Kevin Morley  /  Richmond Times-Dispatch
Malcolm Wolf wears bags on his feet to keep snow out of his shoes as he walks down a street in Richmond, Va., on Saturday.
updated 1/30/2010 7:21:51 PM ET 2010-01-31T00:21:51

A storm that blanketed the South with snow Saturday had children eager to sled down hills, while grown-ups were warned to stay off slippery roads as officials worked to clear a mess of wrecks and downed power lines.

Nearly a foot of snow had fallen in parts of western North Carolina, and nearly 10 inches had fallen in some areas north of Memphis, Tenn. In Nashville, about a half-foot of snow was on the ground, the National Weather Service reported.

To the northeast, the Washington-Baltimore area was preparing for 4 to 8 inches of snow as the storm approached. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for parts of Maryland and Virginia and the District of Columbia.

About a foot of snow was reported in the Richmond area in Virginia, the weather service said.

In northern Virginia, the weather caused several multi-vehicle crashes along Interstate 81 in Shenandoah County, Virginia State Police said. Four people were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Transportation officials were urging drivers to stay off the roads.

The weather also cut short a farewell celebration Saturday at the National Zoo in Washington for young panda Tai Shan, who will be flown to China on Thursday to become part of a breeding program.

The storm left roads icy and snowpacked across the South, and thousands were without power as ice accumulated. Although police said they had to clear hundreds of wrecks overnight, there were no deaths or serious injuries reported.

Few cars were on roads around Nashville, and most people seemed to be hunkered down indoors. Some ventured out on camouflage all-terrain vehicles usually reserved for hunting season.

Jake Guthrie, manager of a Nashville Ace Hardware, pasted a "Sold Out of Sleds" sign at the entrance of the store after selling "several hundred" in the past two days. Workers had to tell a steady stream of callers that they wouldn't have any more sleds until Friday.

"But winter's not over yet," Guthrie said.

Sledding near Nashville
The DuBose family was enjoying a second day of sledding on Nashville's outskirts.

"We ran over the dogs yesterday, so we left them at home today," said Jane DuBose, 47, as her two sons, ages 8 and 12, were sledding down the entrance ramp to a closed road.

In Smyrna, southeast of Nashville, a high school bowling tournament was postponed after snow and ice caused the roof to collapse at the bowling alley where it was to be held, according to the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.

Will O'Halloran, publisher of City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge, La., got caught in the storm in both directions of his monthly trip to pick up the publication from a printer outside Louisville, Ky. At one point he thought his headlights were broken, only to find they were covered in ice.

"People are crazy out there," O'Halloran, 49, said over breakfast at a McDonald's outside Nashville. "Cars spinning, trailers jackknifed. I just tried to keep it at 40 mph and move along."

Multiple wrecks
In mountainous western North Carolina, I-26 near Asheville and I-40 near Black Mountain were shut down Friday night after snow and icy roads caused multiple wrecks. Duke Energy reported about 35,000 outages in the state, mostly in the western mountains.

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue declared a state of emergency Saturday, and 30 National Guard soldiers were standing by to help emergency crews. However, officials said the storm was not as bad as they had predicted.

States of emergency also were declared in Arkansas, Tennessee and parts of Virginia.

In Kentucky, the state transportation cabinet said in a news release that about 5 to 6 inches of snow had fallen in most of the state, with nearly a foot piling up closer to the Tennessee line.

Temperatures around the region were forecast to remain low through the weekend.

Meanwhile, states in the storm's wake were uncovering from inches of snow and caked ice that fouled electricity to hundreds of thousands of customers.

Gov. Brad Henry requested a federal disaster declaration for all of Oklahoma after a massive storm left up to a half-inch of ice on trees and power lines. A spokeswoman for Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, Andrea Chancellor, said it could be five days before electricity is restored to all customers.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Storm slams Southeast

  1. Closed captioning of: Storm slams Southeast

    >> sanders. nbc news, port-au-prince.

    >>> now to the snow and a ice storm that hit the southern plains earlier this weekend and made its way east for the weekend as nbc 's peter alexander reports are, this was a good day for many people to stay home.

    >> reporter: the winter blast marched into the southeast and mid-atlantic early this morning. frigid and fierce combination of heavy snow, ice and below freezing temperatures. for some cities like hampton roads , virginia, it marked the first blanket of snow in at least four years. states of emergency were declared in tennessee, arkansas and north carolina where up to a foot of snow fell in places. the harsh weather forced airports like raleigh-durham to cancel flights and coated roads with ice.

    >> just going to drive slow and hope for the best.

    >> reporter: washington, d.c. is expecting up to eight inches of snow and blistering winds there have made the temperature feel like it was in the single digits. flurries cover the white house with a flesh layer of powder. with air roads dangerously slick, the d.c. department of transportation urged residents to leave their cars at home. this week as the storm swept across the plains it left behind a trail of darkness, across oak oh, 140,000 people are still without electricity after a half inch of ice built up on trees and power lines . at one point, winter storm warnings stretched across 15 states from alabama to maryland. a massive system impacting 30 million people.

    >> well, the storm is really winding down but it's very cold across the mid-atlantic region so the roads are going to be treacherous tonight and even more so farther south where they don't have a lot of snow removal equipment.

    >> reporter: but the kids have all the equipment they need. snowballs and sleds to make this an ideal weinter weekend. peter alexander , nbc news, new york.

    >>> america had a front row

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