- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 3, 2002

Metropolitan area road crews were on alert last night in the event that a snowstorm, which killed two persons in the South, should outwit weather forecasters and hit the region today.

"The National Weather Service has told us we should get little to no accumulation," said Mary Myers, spokeswoman for the District's Department of Public Works.

But 34 trucks were poised for expected 20-degree temperatures, ready to spread salt and clear any snow that might accumulate on bridges and overhead structures, Ms. Myers said. These sites are the first to turn perilous in such conditions.

A light dusting could reach the District, said Parks Camp, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The NWS predicted a 30 percent chance of light snow last night and a 40 percent chance today.

"It may very well not reach D.C. at all," Mr. Camp said.

Bad weather did pelt the South yesterday from Louisiana to the Carolinas. Snow and sleet were blamed for the deaths of two persons and dozens of wrecks on Mississippi highways, where drivers are unaccustomed to slick conditions.

By midmorning, about 3 inches of snow were measured in Hattiesburg, Miss., and 4 inches in Montgomery, Ala., the deepest since the blizzard of 1993 dumped 6 inches there.

In Louisiana, a rash of crashes prompted state police to close parts of interstates 10 at Baton Rouge and 55 at Hammond.

Forecasters began issuing warnings of up to 5 inches of snow today in Georgia and the Carolinas. Motorists were advised to stock their vehicles with food and water in case they got stuck in the snow.

Forecasters said the southern snowstorm would swing slightly north today, dumping as much as a foot of snow on North Carolina and parts of southern Virginia.

In Maryland, highway officials kept tabs on the southern snowfall.

"As it stands now, we're just monitoring the storm," said Kelly Boulware, spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

The Virginia Department of Transportation was ready, too

"We could get a light dusting in Prince William County," spokeswoman Joan Morris said. "We have crews standing by. If it changes, we will make appropriate changes."

In South Carolina, Gov. Jim Hodges sent state employees home when a steady snowfall began about noon yesterday. .

Though the snow didn't compare to the 7 feet that fell on Buffalo, N.Y., last week, the weather surprised states that enjoyed 70-degree temperatures just last month.

"This is beautiful," said June Carlson, who was dodging snowballs from her 4-year-old daughter, Rachel, at an ice rink in downtown Atlanta. "We just got back from New York. There was no snow at all up there, and this is what we came home to. We're thrilled."

Temperatures throughout the South dipped into the 20s yesterday, but that was far from the nation's coldest. Laramie, Wyo., recorded a low of 29 degrees below zero.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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