South waits for thaw as storm aims for Northeast

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A winter storm that threatened to keep the South iced over until the end of the week was heading Tuesday for the storm-battered Northeast, leaving behind glassy and treacherous roads, snapped power lines and stranded travelers.

Temperatures were expected to stay low enough to keep snow and ice on the ground for several more days in the Southern states, where many cities have only a handful of snowplows, if any. Snow ranging from several inches to more than a foot blanketed a swath from Louisiana to the Carolinas.

Freezing rain in some areas added to the misery, and schools around the region remained closed for a second day. Officials urged people to stay off the roads after the storm trapped motorists on highways in Georgia and Arkansas.

Trucker Vernon Cook, 67, said Tuesday that he’s been sitting still on an Atlanta-area interstate ramp for almost 24 hours in a long line of tractor-trailers that can’t move because of the icy road.

“I’ve been a trucker for 46 years and have seen nothing like this,” said Mr. Cook, who’s taking synthetic rubber from Texas to North Carolina.

While the South waits for warmer temperatures to help its beleaguered road crews, the Northeast was bracing for its third snowstorm in less than three weeks. Snow was expected to begin falling in New York a day after Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration admitted a series of mistakes in its handling of a Christmas-weekend blizzard that crippled travel along the East Coast. A winter storm warning was issued through Wednesday, with the heaviest snow expected overnight.

New York and its suburbs could get 8 to 14 inches of snow, with wind gusts up to 35 mph, forecasters said. Long Island could get as much as 15 inches.

The system already is blamed for at least nine deaths and numerous injuries. In a suburb of Charlotte, N.C., 7-year-old Sara King was in critical condition a day after she was hit by a van while sledding. A nursing supervisor said surgeons were operating on her Tuesday.

Elsewhere around the South, thousands were without power. The storm shut down most cities and towns, closed many businesses and canceled most flights at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest.

More than 300 passengers stranded at an Atlanta bus station were given bologna sandwiches, blankets and bottled water by a nearby jail. The Salvation Army and a local McDonald’s also brought food to the weary bus riders, some of whom were sprawled on the floor to get sleep.

Greg Walton, 32, 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 another bus Monday.

“The bring us here, then they just declared martial law on us,” he said, jokingly.

Though officials across the region urged people to stay home, construction worker Bill Lee Jackson ventured out to a Greenville, S.C., grocery store to pick up staples. A normally 10-minute trip to the store took 30, as his slid in spots.

The 31-year-old Mr. Jackson fumed that impassable roads are keeping him from working on a renovation project.

“When are they going to do something?” he said. “This is costing me money. It snows and everything shuts down. I’m fed up. I know I shouldn’t be. Nothing I can do about it, but it’s aggravating.”

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