Southerners awaited a big thaw that would end days of icy roads, broken pipes, snow and numbing cold after a fierce winter storm blasted their normally mild region.
For the third straight night, stare troopers warned of ice making roads and highways treacherous after the snow that hit a wide swath of the South melts and refreezes in the early hours Friday. After sunrise, forecasters said, a major warmup will be on the way. The weekend looks downright balmy by comparison, with highs expected to reach the more typical 50s and 60s (10s and 15s Celsius) for winter in the South.
At least 15 people have died since the midweek snow storm spread from Texas to North Carolina and beyond. The dead included an 8-month-old baby in a car that slipped off a suburban New Orleans road and a 6-year-old Virginia boy who sledded into a driver’s path.
Sunshine and daytime highs well above freezing Friday were expected to help thaw out places like Atlanta, which was frozen in its tracks by just about an inch (2.5 centimeters) of snow, and New Orleans, where residents refrained from taking showers so water pressure could be restore to a system plagued by frozen pipes.
North Carolina is accustomed to getting some snow each winter. But residents were surprised at the ferocity of the latest storm, which dumped as much as an inch (2.5 centimeters) per hour from the state’s mountains to its coastline, piled up a foot of snow (30 centimeters) in parts of hard-hit Durham County.