Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Freak Southern storm blamed for at least 13 deaths

ATLANTA — The arctic blast crippling much of the deep South has caused at least 13 deaths and created havoc for millions, prompting six states to declare emergencies and bringing criticism on the National Weather Service for its forecasting.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who mobilized the National Guard on Wednesday to rescue Atlanta-area motorists stranded on snarled, icebound freeways, blamed the state's early response on the Weather Service, which predicted the chaotic storm would hit farther south.

Tuesday's snowfall brought just 2.6 inches of snow to Atlanta, but it was a one-day record and enough to hamstring the region, creating nightmares for commuters, truckers, students and their families. Hundreds of flights were grounded at Hartsfield International Airport — the nation's busiest.

Deal declared a state of emergency for Georgia. Similar declarations were issued for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, At least nine people died in traffic accidents, including five in Alabama, two in North Carolina and 1 in Florida. Four people, including a three-month-old infant, were killed early Tuesday in a Mississippi mobile home fire near Fulton caused by a faulty space heater.

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