Video: Winter storm wallops South, barrels north

  1. Closed captioning of: Winter storm wallops South, barrels north

    >>> we'll let you know that tomorrow, president obama heads here to tucson for a memorial service at the university of arizona . helicopters from the white house air wing making practice runs above us now. he's also going to visit with survivors and families. we'll have more from here a bit later on but first, we have to turn to the east.

    >>> the day's other big news, the major winter storm that has all but paralyzed the southeast and has led to at least 11 deaths. ron is here from frozen and paralyzed, atlanta .

    >> reporter: gear. the hot question is when will it get warm enough, long enough, to burn off some of the snow and ice from the roads. the city of atlanta is frozen solid tonight and they want to get out. breaking the ice in atlanta , blow by blow, officials literally pounding the pavement to get traffic moving again. a jackknifed big-rig snarled one interstate highway here overnight, just one of a handful of tieups.

    >> i've been out there since 10:00 with no food or drink.

    >> reporter: eventually, crews got the jam unplugd but not before rocky mountain of criticism.

    >> i've never had two days off of school or work.

    >> reporter: a limited number of snow plows are working. private and public, is city has just eight. getting around was trechb rouse. these two plowed into one another.

    >> the ice was too much.

    >> reporter: the scene across much of atlanta was either slow motion or no motion at all.

    >> we heard one take off, 20 minutes ago. the first one of the day.

    >> reporter: from the world's busiest airport where some 1500 flights were cancelled to the bus station where hundreds got an unscheduled layover.

    >> we're stuck here. i want to go home.

    >> reporter: but for many, going home won't be easy. whether it's across country or across town.

    >> i'm not trying to fly out. this is my destination. i'm just trying to drive out of here and that looks like it's going to be hours. it's like a winter wonderland out the there. you wonder if you'll make it.

    >> reporter: no one will make it to the nba basketball game tonight. it's been postponed. the city has brought in six times the usual number of pieces of equipment to fight this snow and ice to get atlanta back on the road. brian?

    >> thanks, ron. i like the winter wonderland . you wonder if

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 1/12/2011 2:44:02 AM ET 2011-01-12T07:44:02

The storm that shut down much of the South slowly rolled into the Northeast late Tuesday, bringing "very heavy" falls of snow, officials said.

Storm warnings were in effect for most of southern and eastern New England.

In the South, the weather left roads so icy that some truck drivers were stuck for more than a day in their rigs.

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Airports in the Northeast, South and even Midwest saw several thousand flight cancellations due to the two storm fronts, and that number could grow on Wednesday.

At Atlanta's airport, the world's busiest, nearly 2,000 flights were canceled for a second straight day.

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In Chicago, a separate storm system was causing flight delays and 450 cancellations by early Tuesday afternoon at O'Hare.

The National Weather Service gave figures for the amount of snow which had fallen since Tuesday evening for a number of locations.

Stamford, Connecticut had 2.5 inches by 12 a.m.; Newark Airport had 3.7 inches by 1 a.m.; Brooklyn Heights in NYC had 2.5 inches by 12.15 a.m. while there were 4.5 inches in Central Park by 1.22 a.m.

In Maryland, Forte Meade got 2.1 inches by 10.56 p.m. Tuesday while Damascus had 2.5 inches by 10 p.m.

'Major winter storm'
Connecticut's Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security said in a statement that radar images showed heavy snow falling across most of south and central parts of the state at 12:45 a.m. Wednesday.

"A band of very heavy snow is entering South Central and Southeastern CT at this time. A low pressure system currently located off the coast of Southern New Jersey at 1:00 a.m. will move North Northeast up the East Coast overnight," it said in a statement.

"This low pressure system is continuing to rapidly intensify into a major winter storm as it spreads heavy snow over Southern New England at this time," it added.

Winter storm warnings were in effect for most of southern and eastern New England Wednesday.

The statement said snow was forecast to fall at a rate of 2 to 3 inches an hour, but warned this could increase to 4 to 5 inches an hour for a few hours in some towns in central and southeastern parts of the state.

It said that the department expected there would be 10 to 18 inches of snow on the ground by the Wednesday morning rush hour, adding that visibility was likely to be "very low." Temperatures were expected to stay in the mid 20s.

By the afternoon, the snowfall was expected to be moderate but there would still be considerable blowing and drifting snow during the afternoon rush hour, the statement said.

Total snowfall could range from 15 to 25 inches statewide, it added.

Story: Travelers in Northeast face more cancellations

New York City confronted its third snowstorm in less than three weeks. On Tuesday, it declared a weather emergency and Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration admitted mistakes in its handling of the Christmas weekend blizzard and promised immediate changes.

"We didn't do the job that New Yorkers rightly expect of us in the last storm and we intend to make sure that that does not happen again," Bloomberg told a news conference.

Bloomberg said the heaviest snowfall is expected just before rush hour in New York on Wednesday morning and asked commuters not to drive if possible.

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National Weather Service forecasters predicted 6 to 12 inches of snow starting in New York late Tuesday night and continuing through Wednesday.

The previous storm — the sixth largest in city history — dumped 20 inches on New York's Central Park over 17 hours on December 26 and 27.

'A lot of snow'
National Weather Service forecaster Michael Eckert said that while this storm will not be as strong and widespread, "for a major metropolitan area, this is still a lot of snow and will cause some disruption."

Boston, where a blizzard warning was issued, could see up to 16 inches of snow.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino late Tuesday declared a snow emergency, which bans parking ban on all major streets and cancels public schools.

In the South, low temperatures Tuesday were expected to keep snow and ice on the ground a day after snow ranging from several inches to more than a foot blanketed states from Louisiana to the Carolinas — a region where many cities have only a handful of snow plows, if any.

View storm updates via breakingnews.com

Freezing rain in some areas added to the misery and schools around the region remained closed for a second day.

In Atlanta, trucker Vernon Cook, 67, said he's been stuck on an interstate ramp for almost 24 hours in a long line of tractor trailers that can't move because of the ice.

"I've been a trucker for 46 years and have seen nothing like this," said Cook.

Image: Stranded truck driver
David Goldman  /  AP
Vernon Cook sits in his truck Tuesday in Atlanta.

"The road conditions are very dire at this point," Joe Turner, a North Carolina transportation maintenance engineer in Raleigh, said early Tuesday. "The roads are very bad. We urge people to stay at the house."

At least 11 people have been killed in weather-related traffic accidents.

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In a bid to avoid further accidents, authorities shut schools and government offices for a second day in dozens of districts in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.

Atlanta's normally bustling downtown area was nearly deserted for the second day in a row Tuesday.

More than 300 passengers who were stranded at an Atlanta bus station were given sandwiches, blankets and bottled water from a nearby jail. Several other charities and local restaurants have also brought food.

"It's a whole lot better than nothing," police spokesman Officer Curtis Davenport said.

Story: Send, view images of the wintry blast

Some bus travelers tried to get some sleep in chairs or on the floor.

Greg Walton, of Orlando, Fla., said his bus started losing traction and the battery eventually died when it neared Atlanta. He's been stuck at the station since being ferried there on a another bus Monday.

"They bring us here, then they just declared martial law on us," he said, jokingly.

Video: Weather Channel provides forecast (on this page)

In North and South Carolina, thousands were without power.

Most of North Carolina remained under a winter storm warning.

Conditions were unlikely to improve anytime soon. Temperatures should stay below freezing for days, and more snow is predicted. That means treacherous travel conditions could persist until Wednesday or beyond.

Slideshow: Snow blankets East coast (on this page)

"The problem here is that they're not used to it, so the equipment and the sanitation removal and the snow removal is not really geared for this kind of situation," said Tino Grana, of New York City, who traveled to Atlanta to sell art at a downtown trade show.

Atlanta, which got 4 to 7 inches, has just eight snow plows. The city hired a fleet of 11 privately run trucks to help spread salt and gravel.

The weather began rolling across the South on Sunday, coating bridges and roads with snow, sleet and freezing rain. The governors of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee declared emergencies.

Drivers struggled to stay on slippery pavement, and roads were littered with abandoned vehicles. Some motorists got out in the middle of interstates to push their cars up ice-covered ramps.

"Towns down here just don't have the equipment to deal with this much snow," said Joel Weems, a worker at the University of Mississippi.

The Associated Press, Reuters and NBC News contributed to this report.

Photos: Snow blankets the Northeast after hitting the South

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  1. A bundled up Terry Uellendahl clears snow from his cars in Albertson, N.Y., Wednesday, Jan. 12, after an overnight snowfall covered areas throughout Long Island, N.Y. (Kathy Kmonicek / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A young boy makes his way across the frozen pond in the Boston Public Gardens in Boston, Mass. on Wednesday. A snow storm passed along the east coast of the United States leaving over 15 inches in some areas, delaying travel and canceling school. (Cj Gunther / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Workers shovel snow from walkways near the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. on Wednesday. A winter storm that shut down much of the South churned up the coast Wednesday, dumping wet, heavy snow across the Northeast. (Mel Evans / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. A Secret Service Police Officer holds his hat as the Marine One helicopter kicks up snow on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Jan. 12. President Obama is traveling to Tucson, Ariz. Wednesday for a memorial service for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and others who were shot in a rampage that left six people dead. (Charles Dharapak / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A loader clears snow at New York's LaGuardia Airport on Jan. 12. New York's John F. Kennedy airport, which had 6 inches of snow, had 300 flights canceled, and LaGuardia airport saw another 650 flights canceled, officials said. (Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. People clean snow from their cars in Silver Spring, Md, on Wednesday. (Jewel Samad / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. A man attempts to start a snow blower during a storm in Windsor, Conn. on Wednesday. (Jessica Hill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Members of the Federyuk family shovel snow out of their driveway during a major snow storm, Jan. 12, in Greenfield, Mass. (Matthew Cavanaugh / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Some flights out of Logan International Airport in Boston are cancelled on Wednesday during a winter nor'easter storm. (Brian Snyder / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. A man leaps past a snow covered bicycle while crossing a street in the Downtown Crossing in Boston on Wednesday. The Boston area is expected to receive well over a foot of snow during a day long winter storm. (Charles Krupa / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A Long Island Railroad train ticket agent checks for passengers at Manhasset in N.Y. on Jan. 12. (Shannon Stapleton / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A resident clears the end of his driveway with a snowblower along Route 1A in Walpole, Mass., on Wednesday, Jan.12. (Matt Campbell / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. A pedestrian walks along a snow covered street in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday, Jan. 12. Plows and salt spreaders hit the streets up and down the East Coast during Wednesday morning's commute as a storm that shut down much of the South churned northward and dumped several inches of wet, heavy snow. (Mike Groll / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Snow plows work to clear Route 140 as heavy snow continues to fall in Franklin, Mass., on Wednesday. A foot of snow fell during the night in the Boston area and the Northeast. (Matt Campbell / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Gloria Maroti Frazee cross country skis through fresh snow in Central Park in New York on Wednesday, Jan. 12. "I usually bicycle in the park but it's not a great day for bicycling, so skiing it is, Maroti-Frazee said. A snowstorm that caused mayhem in the South hit the Northeast overnight. (Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. A plow clears snow near the entrance to Prospect Park in the borough of Brooklyn in New York on Wednesday, Jan. 12. (Peter Morgan / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. A man slips while crossing the street on West 72nd Street on Wednesday, Jan. 12, in New York City. The second major snowstorm of the season to hit New York City began Tuesday in the last hours of the evening. (Andrew Burton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A lone pedestrian walks in the street to avoid accumulated snowfall on the sidewalks in the Harlem neighborhood of New York on Wednesday, Jan. 12. (Jonathan D. Woods / msnbc.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. A man wth a bike makes his way through falling snow on Tuesday, Jan. 11, in Philadelphia. (Matt Slocum / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Truckers Bill Dougherty, left, Chis Vlad, center, and Jim Plewinski walk on Interstate 285 as their trucks sit stranded for over 24 hours from a winter storm that turned the road into a sheet of ice on Tuesday, January 11 in Atlanta. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Dee Johnson speaks on a cell phone at the Greyhound bus terminal on Tuesday in Atlanta. More than 300 passengers who were stranded nby a winter storm at an Atlanta bus station were given sandwiches, blankets and bottled water from a nearby jail. Several other charities and local restaurants have also brought food. Some travelers tried to get some sleep in chairs or on the floor. (Mike Stewart / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. Dewey Greer walks with his Siberian Husky, Harley, during an early morning snowfall Tuesday along the city park in Ashland, Kentucky. (John Flavell / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Ben Dodson, left, Lucas Wheeler, center, and Garry Nelson, right, make a snowman in front of the Parthenon on Monday in Nashville, Tenn. Parts of Tennessee received 13 inches of snow from the winter storm. The Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the original Greek structure. (Mark Humphrey / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. John Cox pulls Parker Cox, left, and Chew Mobley through the snow a four-wheeler in Ed Worrell Memorial Park in Texarkana, Ark., on Monday. (Christena Dowsett / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Pedestrians cross over an icy Peachtree Street after snow carpeted Atlanta, Ga., January 10. Snow and ice covered much of the Deep South on Monday, leaving one person dead in Alabama, cutting off power to around 4,000 people in Georgia and closing countless roads, authorities said. (Tami Chappell / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. Traffic crawls toward Charlotte, N.C. early Monday on snow covered roads. Sleet, ice and several inches of snow blanketed states from Louisiana to the Carolinas causing at least three deaths and leaving thousands without power. (Davie Hinshaw / Charlotte Observer via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. Snow falls against the backdrop of the Georgia State Capitol on Sunday, Jan. 9, in Atlanta. (David Goldman / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Davis McCool tries to catch snowflakes on his tongue while playing in the snowfall in Oxford, Miss., on Jan. 9. The snowfall in the Oxford area has caused the closing of area schools on Monday, including the University of Mississippi. (Bruce Newman / Oxford Eagle) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. Cars slip and slide while trying to climb a snow-covered hill on Metropolitan Parkway in Southwest Atlanta on Jan. 9. (Ben Gray / Atlanta Journal & Constitution) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Camille Foster sleds down a small hill in her front yard in the Highland neighborhood of Shreveport, La., after a snowfall on Jan. 9. (Henrietta Wildsmith / The Shreveport Times) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. Taylor Parks builds a snowman in Texarkana, Texas, Jan. 9. (Christena Dowsett / Texarkana Gazette) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. Colored lights illuminate icicles that hang off the awning of a business on South Washington Street in El Dorado, Ark., on Jan. 9. A winter storm brought a wintery mix of sleet and snow to the area. (Michael Orrell / The El Dorado News-Times) Back to slideshow navigation
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Map: Cold blast

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