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The Nation

South Hopes Rain Rinses Away Snowfall

January 06, 2002|From Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. — Rain appeared likely to dissolve the thick blanket of snow that covered much of the Deep South on Saturday as a fast-moving storm system entered the state from the west.

Today, areas hardest hit by last week's storm could see a repeat of the 40- and 50-degree temperatures that brought some relief Saturday, forecasters said.

"I think that's going to help us as far as dissolving the snow and getting rid of it," said Department of Transportation maintenance engineer Jerry Linder, in Raleigh.

There were few major traffic problems Saturday.

Sixteen inches of snow fell on parts of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The winter blast, which swept through the South from Wednesday to early Friday, knocked out thousands of homes' electricity and paralyzed a region ill-equipped to deal with such storms. Treacherous conditions were blamed for at least 10 traffic deaths.

In Florida's Panhandle, where temperatures dipped to 19 degrees in the wake of the storm, an infant died in a house fire blamed on a space heater too close to a mattress. Heaters were also blamed for house fires that killed eight people in Louisiana and two in Alabama.

Operations at Atlanta's Hartsfield International Airport, the nation's busiest airport, were still recovering Friday. Ben DeCosta, the general manager of Hartsfield, where hundreds of flights were canceled, said he will meet with airline executives Monday to discuss ways to prevent future snow-related backups.

DeCosta said he called for the meeting after learning that, during the storm, some planes full of passengers waited as long as 10 hours for de-icing before leaving or returning to the terminal.

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