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Deadly Storm Ices South, Makes Travel Treacherous

January 30, 2000|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — The second ice storm in a week made highways treacherous Saturday, leaving the pavement so slippery in places people couldn't stand, let alone drive.

Cars slid into police cars and trucks trying to clear the roads, and ice-covered overpasses and interchanges were shut down across the state. Temperatures, however, were expected to climb into the 40s today.

"It just happened so suddenly," said state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kim Law. "You look out your window and not see any ice on the trees and assume it's OK. Well, it's anything but."

The ice was blamed for a 47-car pileup at the junction of Interstate 20 and Interstates 75/85 in downtown Atlanta. Later, 12 other cars slid into each other on I-20. One traffic death in the state was blamed on the ice.

"We've had [vehicles] slide into 10 of our officers' cars," said DeKalb County police spokeswoman Mikki Jones. "Everyone needs to slow down. We're seeing people try to drive 70 miles an hour on the interstate."

As the weather system turned up the East Coast, storm advisories were posted across South and North Carolina, where residents were still digging out after last week's record snowfall of 20 inches. An ice storm warning was in effect for northeastern Alabama.

The same storm had dropped more than a foot of snow in areas across the Plains and the South and was blamed for three deaths in Arkansas, one in Louisiana and five in Missouri. A 14-year-old boy died in a sledding accident near Memphis, Tenn.

In Atlanta, a line of cabs extended 25 long at one downtown hotel. One driver, his cab covered in icicles, said the 15-mile drive from the airport to downtown took nearly an hour.

"As long as you're careful, you're OK," Hassan Brimah said. "You've just got to worry about what everyone else is doing."

Mike Ritter brought his two sons and their friend from Boulder, Colo., for the Super Bowl and was waiting for a cab to go to a movie.

They bumped up their flight into Atlanta from Friday to Thursday to ensure they would arrive before the bad weather. That worked, but their uncle's flight out of New Jersey was canceled.

Officials at the airport said about 35% of the flights into Atlanta had been canceled, even though the airport remained open with all runways operating.

Delta Air Lines canceled four flights between Nashville and Atlanta on Friday, but all its flights between the cities were running Saturday, said spokeswoman Alesia Watson.

The storm also iced roads in Kentucky, forcing police to close a 10-mile section of Interstate 75. "It's utter chaos this morning, brother," said State Police Sgt. Russ Harney in Richmond.

In Lexington, Ky., Ken Kurtz, 70, and his wife were out shopping.

"We hit the parking lot with clear windows, and by the time we came out 25 minutes later every window was coated with ice," Kurtz said.

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