Nightly News   |  January 28, 2014

Bitter Cold Grips South

Police and emergency crews have responded to hundreds of accidents in several states leaving cars stranded, dozens of pileups and major traffic jams. In addition, thousands of flights were canceled.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> hour, the real urgency is being felt across a huge stretch of our country in the deep south . a rare and unusual snow and ice event. some bad winter weather in cities and towns not equipped to handle it, from east texas on up through louisiana, new orleans, mississippi and alabama where the national guard 's been called out. georgia, including atlanta right on up through the carolinas. 140 million americans are living under some sort of weather watch or warning tonight. and while snowfall is one thing, some cities are icing over this evening. it's where we begin our coverage with our meteorologist dylan dreyer.

>> reporter: these subfreezing, icy and dangerous road conditions are wreaking havoc tonight, particularly in atlanta. and they're only expected to get worse. police and emergency crews have already responded to hundreds of accidents in several states. with cars stranded, dozens of pileups, major traffic jams, and roads that quickly became impassable. folks stepping in respond with some muscle power. while we're accustomed to winter weather affecting winter travel along i-95, this storm is shifting the misery to i-10, where today entire sections had to be shut down opinion hours before the storm, snow plow drivers geared up for battle. their armada much smaller than their northern neighbors. where cities like chicago and minneapolis have hundreds of plows. columbia, south carolina has nine. this cold front is leaving air travelers stranded. more than 3,000 flights were cancel add cross the country and nearly 6,000 delayed. of the five airports hit hardest, four are in the south. at louis armstrong international in new orleans, flights were grounded all together. many southern officials are urging people to be vigilant with messages so similar they could have been finishing each other's sentences.

>> we're not used to this significant ice and sleet and snow that we're experiencing today.

>> we're recommending that people stay off of the roadways.

>> now is not the time to take any unnecessary risk or any unnecessary trips.

>> reporter: in the south, the school day was cancelled or cut short in many states. for those that were in session, getting students home was tricky. in metro atlanta , cherokee county schools suspended bus service this afternoon, telling parents who couldn't pick up their kids, students who are at school will remain until the roads are safer. adding, the district is prepared to shelter students as necessary. some students at georgia tech had never seen snow at all, until today. enjoying the bitter blast that has the south feeling more like the north. coping with the winter that continues to have an unrelenting icy grip on much of the country. this storm has turned deadly in mississippi today, where authorities say a family was trying to stay warm when a space heater caught fire. killing four people, including two young children. brian?

>> dylan dreyer starting us off tonight. dylan , thank you.