- Associated Press - Friday, January 6, 2017

ATLANTA (AP) - The Latest on the winter storm moving across the South (all times local):

9:05 p.m.

Sleet and snow is falling in outlying suburbs northwest of Atlanta while rain and freezing rain brought slush to city streets.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted police as saying authorities were handling some vehicle crashes on Interstate 75 northwest of the city on Friday evening. No injuries were reported.

Police told the newspaper they were warning motorists that bridges and overpasses were in danger of freezing overnight as temperatures are expected to plunge. Authorities urged people to avoid unnecessary travel.

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8:10 p.m.

Road conditions are quickly deteriorating in some sections of Alabama under a thin blanket of snow and sleet.

The National Weather Service in Birmingham is urging people to avoid travel if possible.

Police and county road officials said roads were deemed impassable in Anniston, Oxford, Jacksonsville, Chilton County and other areas of the state.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency warned that ice covered interstate bridges in the Birmingham area.

State troopers say they were working several weather-related crashes.

Road conditions were expected to deteriorate as temperatures were predicted to dip into the twenties in the Birmingham area, causing remaining liquid on the roads to freeze.

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7:25 p.m.

Road conditions have deteriorated across parts of Mississippi as the sun has set and ice begins to form on streets.

With steady sleet during the afternoon Friday and falling temperatures, ice that had previously posed a danger on overpasses began to spread to surface streets. The Mississippi Department of Transportation reports ice on roads and bridges in more than half of the state’s counties.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol reported that by 3 p.m. Friday, it had investigated 62 wrecks statewide and responded to 141 calls for assistance. That doesn’t count wrecks called in to local agencies. Authorities are advising people to travel only in the case of emergencies.

Despite hours of sleet, power outages remained limited, with fewer than 1,000 reported by utilities statewide.

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7:05 p.m.

The U.S. Coast Guard is closing the Port of Virginia at midnight Friday ahead of an approaching winter storm, which could lead to zero visibility both onshore and on the water.

Commercial vessels will be prohibited from entering or departing the Chesapeake Bay. And officials have urged other boaters to stay docked.

“There is a real danger to all vessels on the water,” Capt. Kevin M. Carroll of the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement.

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6:45 p.m.

Elected officials led by North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper have been installed to their jobs in a public ceremony rearranged because of an impending winter storm.

Cooper, who took the oath of office Friday, was scheduled to be sworn in during ceremonies scheduled for Saturday, and additional outdoor ceremonies were expected to bring thousands to Raleigh to watch. But the forecast led inaugural planners to move the events indoors to the city’s auditorium. Ultimately, those events were scrapped as well.

Instead of giving his inauguration speech outdoors Saturday, Cooper’s speech will be televised.

The governor also declared a state of emergency in advance of the storm, which could drop up to a foot of snow on portions of the state.

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5:15 p.m.

Authorities say an endurance athlete and firefighter who was partially buried in an avalanche while backcountry skiing in Montana’s Glacier National Park died as emergency crews tried to rescue him.

The Flathead Beacon reported (https://bit.ly/2ildJQ2 ) reports that 36-year-old Ben Parsons of Kalispell, Montana, died Thursday, citing Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry.

Parsons was a skilled outdoor adventurer who competed in mountain biking and ski mountaineering races and worked as a firefighter and paramedic in the town of Whitefish, Montana.

Park spokeswoman Lauren Alley said emergency personnel received a call from a skiing partner who said Parsons was partially buried by snow on a mountain and was severely injured.

Authorities say Parsons died during the rescue. His death was the ninth-recorded avalanche death in Glacier National Park since it was established in 1910

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4:35 p.m.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency ahead of a winter storm that’s expected to dump large amounts of snow in certain parts of the state.

McAuliffe also urged residents to avoid driving in the snow if they could avoid it.

The southeastern part of the state is expected to get up to a foot of snow. McAuliffe’s declaration decreases the paperwork necessary for the state agencies to respond to any storm-related issues.

The state is bracing for wind gusts, freezing temperatures and heavy rain that could cause power outages

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3:25 p.m.

Snow-slickened roads in Tennessee are being blamed for hundreds of fender benders and other non-injury accidents around Nashville, some involving school buses.

The National Weather Service in Nashville said snowfall Friday morning ranged from a quarter of an inch to about 2 inches of snow.

Metro Nashville Police say they received more than 300 non-injury crash calls between 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Friday, with more reported outside the city.

On Friday, Nashville public school officials decided at 5 a.m. to hold the day’s classes, though many surrounding school districts were closed or on a delayed schedule. Within hours, weather conditions worsened, and at 8:20 a.m., the Nashville district announced early dismissals.

On the roads, authorities say, some school buses got into “minor fender benders.”

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2:15 p.m.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has declared a state of emergency to grapple with an oncoming winter storm.

Haley signed an executive order Friday to deal with potential snow and ice. It will remain in effect through midnight Sunday and does not affect schools or government offices.

The order puts the state’s emergency operations plan in effect. It allows state agencies access to equipment from the National Guard that can be used to treat and clear blocked roads and puts National Guard members on duty to assist.

Governors in Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina have already declared states of emergencies.

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12:45 p.m.

The National Weather Service has downgraded the forecast for central and southwest Mississippi, posting a winter storm warning that now predicts up to 2 inches of sleet and snow over the region.

In Jackson, Mississippi, the downtown area was emptying, leaving deli owner Steve Long looking at lowered business.

Long said he called some employees and told them not to come to work when the first sleet shower hit after 7 a.m. Friday.

He said one of his two stores was offering only a limited menu, but said some food was too far along when weather worsened, so he completed a pot of chili and other items.

He said “I knew I’d sell chili, if nothing else.”

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11 a.m.

Shipping giant FedEx says delays are possible for packages being delivered across the country Friday due to winter weather that has swept through its home base in Memphis, Tennessee.

The company posted a statement on its website saying FedEx Express experienced “substantial disruptions” at its Memphis hub overnight due to winter weather.

The company says “potential delays are possible for package deliveries across the U.S.” with a delivery commitment of Friday.

FedEx says it is “committed to provide service to the best of our ability.” The company uses Memphis International Airport to send packages from its hub by air.

Customers can check the status of their shipments on fedex.com, or they can go to FedEx Service Alerts. Customers also can also contact FedEx Customer Service.

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11:40 a.m.

Delta Airlines has canceled 350 flights ahead of a winter storm bearing down on Atlanta, home of Delta’s global headquarters and the world’s busiest airport.

Delta said it had canceled the flights “pre-emptively” ahead of the storm.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spokesman Reese McCranie said the airport will never close, and will remain open through the wintry weather.

McCranie said crews will keep all runways, taxiways and roads open.

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10:15 a.m.

Sleet began falling across central and northern Mississippi after dawn Friday.

Schools and colleges mostly opened Friday, but some are dismissing students early.

Some ice is sticking to the elevated interchange of Interstate 55 and Interstate 20 in Jackson that’s the heart of Mississippi’s highway system. “The Stack,” as it’s known locally, is notorious for icing in winter weather.

Farther north in the state, mostly snow is falling.

Some Mississippi suburbs of Memphis, Tennessee, reported 2 to 3 inches of snow by mid-morning.

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