DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Several Southern states hit hard by a wintry storm were bracing for plunging temperatures early Tuesday that could refreeze melting snow and make roads more treacherous.
Scores of schools in Virginia and North Carolina were remaining closed for a second day. Georgia also announced a late start for state government workers because of fears about ice on roads. The storm that blew in over the weekend was blamed for at least three deaths in North Carolina, along with numerous car crashes, power outages and canceled flights.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said Monday that the worst of the storm had passed, but residents — particularly motorists — should keep watch for dangerous conditions. Melting snow and ice could make roads slick Tuesday morning as temperatures fall and moisture refreezes, Cooper said at a news conference. The Highway Patrol already had responded to more than 670 collisions and nearly 1,600 calls for services since the storm began.
“We need to stay vigilant. We’re not out of the woods yet,” Cooper said Monday. “This storm dropped staggering amounts of snow, ice and rain across our state. A year’s worth of snowfall or more fell in some places in little more than a day.”
More than 20 inches fell in parts of western North Carolina.
A truck driver died Sunday after suffering what appeared to be a heart attack from shoveling out his rig that got stuck at the height of the storm along Interstate 77 in the central part of the state, Yadkin County Emergency Services Director Keith Vestal said.
The state emergency operations center also said one man died Sunday when a tree fell on him in Mecklenburg County, while an ailing woman died in Haywood County when her oxygen was cut off due to power outages.
In Charlotte, police shut down a street Monday after reports of ice falling from the Duke Energy Center. And an overturned truck full of pigs added to traffic delays in the western part of that state.
Still, the snow gave some people a chance for fun in places that don’t normally see a lot of snow. In North Carolina’s Durham County, where a foot fell in places Sunday, kids reveled in a day off from school as a second dusting of snow and sleet fell Monday. Children threw snowballs or built snowmen, and a young girl in a pink jacket threw her hands up and yelled “Merry Christmas!” at a passer-by along a residential sidewalk.
Ron Gordon, 75, donned boots and a hooded winter jacket to take out his dog, Easy.
“She seems to like it,” he said, holding a walking stick for extra traction. “She enjoys it more than I do.”
The semi-retired photographer said he could work inside for the rest of the day, and he can cook on the gas stove even if the house loses power again, as it did for several hours Sunday. He said he moved to Durham from Chicago several years ago and was surprised to see this much snow: “I didn’t expect this.”