Winter Storm Blankets US South in Ice, Snow

(CN) – The southern United States woke up Tuesday to a winter storm that brought ice to much of Texas and snow to other states including Tennessee and Mississippi, prompting warnings of dangerous travel conditions.

The wintry weather will impact over 70 million people across the country, with light snow and ice expected in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, according to reports.

On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Texas residents to exercise extreme caution due to the hazardous conditions caused by the winter weather.

“The winter weather system sweeping across our state will bring low temperatures and freezing precipitation to many communities, which could create life-threatening situations,” Abbott said.

The National Weather Service advised people to avoid all non-essential travel in south-central Texas because of slick roadways created by accumulations of sleet and ice. The area, which rarely experiences such wintry weather, includes the cities of Austin and San Antonio along the I-35 corridor, as well as areas along the Rio Grande and Hill Country.

Most schools, government offices and businesses in Austin, San Antonio and surrounding counties were closed on Tuesday because of the conditions caused by the Arctic cold front.

Portions of the Fort Worth/Dallas area were also under a winter storm warning until noon on Tuesday, according to the NWS. The agency said the affected area, including Corsicana, Tyler and Mexia, could see light snow with little accumulation. However, conditions in the metroplex were not as bad as feared, with the winter weather largely missing the area. There were only a few school cancellations and business closings, according to CBS-11 News.

The Houston/Galveston region also faced a winter storm warning, with a high of only 29 degrees and total daytime snow and sleet accumulation of less than 1/2 inch possible, the NWS said. Icy roads were being reported along major roadways, including I-10, I-45 and the Sam Houston Tollway, according to NBC affiliate KPRC.

Hundreds of flights across Texas were cancelled because of icy runways.

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, hazardous road conditions closed courthouses in Mississippi’s most populated counties, including Hinds, Harrison and Desoto. Federal courts in Jackson, Oxford and Aberdeen were also shut down, though the electronic case filing system remained available.

In Tennessee, 1 to 3 inches of snow covered much of the state, forcing closures of schools, universities and courts.

Shelby County courts in Memphis announced they would close Monday night in anticipation of the winter storm. In Nashville, Davidson County criminal courts closed while the juvenile court stayed open for afternoon hearings. Circuit and chancery courts in Davidson County remained open, as did federal courts in Middle Tennessee. Many smaller counties surrounding Nashville shut down their government offices for the day.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol urged residents to stay home and off the roads if possible.

Alabama braced Tuesday for snow and ice that was expected to begin in the afternoon. Gov. Kay Ivey declared a state of emergency the night before in anticipation. Schools, state and federal courts and many businesses in the Yellowhammer State were closed.

UPDATE: New Orleanians woke Wednesday morning to snow covering the rooftops. Government buildings and schools closed and officials asked residents to limit non-essential driving due to the icy conditions of the roads. All schools and government offices in Baton Rouge are closed as well, and the capital city was expected to get much heftier flurries of snow and ice.

All flights out of New Orleans were cancelled due to a frozen runway and I-10 was closed. About 10,000 residents in St. Bernard Parish, on the outskirts of New Orleans past the Lower Ninth Ward, are without power.

Erik De La Garza, Tracey Dalzell Walsh, Sabrina Canfield and Kevin Lessmiller contributed to this report.

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