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Ice Storm Causes More Havoc Across US South

Storm encrusted the region in ice, knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands
Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014
Winter Storm Affects Large Swath Of Southern States
Northbound on Interstate 85 is at a standstill at rush-hour on February 12, 2014, in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

ATLANTA (AP) - The second winter storm in two weeks to hit the U.S. South encrusted the region in ice, knocking out electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses before pushing toward the heavily populated Northeast.

The storm was threatening to dump up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) of snow Thursday to some areas in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast.

At least 11 deaths across the region were blamed on the treacherous weatherWednesday, including three people who were killed when an ambulance careened off an icy Texas road and caught fire.

Nearly 3,300 airline flights nationwide were cancelled.

The National Weather Service called the storm "catastrophic ... crippling ... paralyzing ... choose your adjective."

New York City could see up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow, the agency said, and Washington D.C. could get up to 8 inches (20 centimeters). Federal offices in Washington were closed Thursday.

President Barack Obama declared a disaster area in South Carolina and for parts of Georgia, opening the way for federal aid. In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, palm trees were covered with a thick crust of ice.

Ice combined with wind gusts up to 30 mph (48 kph) snapped tree limbs and power lines Wednesday. More than 200,000 homes and businesses lost electricity in Georgia, 130,000 in South Carolina and nearly 30,000 in Louisiana. Some people could be in the dark for days.

The constant spate of storms is taking a financial toll. The state of Massachusetts has already burned through its $43 million snow-and ice-fighting budget - having spent about $75 million before Thursday's storm even hit.

In North Carolina, drivers got caught in monumental traffic jams and abandoned their cars Wednesday in a replay of what happened in Atlanta just two weeks ago.

While Atlanta's highways were clear, apparently because people learned their lesson and stayed home, thousands of cars were backed up on the slippery, snow-covered interstates around Raleigh, North Carolina, and short commutes turned into hours-long journeys.

PHOTOS ON SKYE: Winter Storm Bears Down on Southern US
South Traffic Ice


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