America braces for 'potentially catastrophic' winter storm

Washington, Feb 13: The American capital braced for a massive winter storm that knocked down power in nearly half a million homes and business in Southeast America before moving north to wallop the Washington region.

More than 97 million Americans in more than 20 states, including Louisiana and South Carolina, governed by Indian-American governors, Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley respectively are in the path of the storm being blamed for at least 11 deaths.

President Barack Obama declared an emergency for all counties in South Carolina at the request of Haley as some forecasters predicted "potentially catastrophic" conditions in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas.

Obama issued a similar declaration for 91 counties in Georgia Tuesday. The declaration authorises the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support the states in their efforts to respond to the storm.

According to the National Weather Service, dangerous ice and snow is expected to intensify as the storm moves up the Eastern Seaboard, affecting locations across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

New York, Philadelphia and Washington are expected to get 6 to 12 inches of snow. But suburbs just to the west of those cities could get more than a foot with ice on top of that.

Airlines cancelled more than 3,300 flights Wednesday and they've already cancelled more than 3,400 Thursday.

The ice and powerful wind gusts robbed 350,000 homes and businesses of power in Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina, according to CBS News.

National Guard troops were stationed along major inter state roads in South Carolina, ready to respond to wrecks on dangerous snow-covered roads.

President Barack Obama declared an emergency for all counties in South Carolina.

At least 140 accidents were reported statewide, and three people were killed though many snow-covered roads were deserted as drivers heeded warnings to steer clear of the roads. according to CBS.

Officials were also trying to keep smaller, secondary roads open to make way for power crews trying to restore electricity to at least 20,000 people in central South Carolina.

In North Carolina, light freezing rain was falling Wednesday evening in Raleigh and was expected to remain heavy through 2 a.m.

In Atlanta, which was caught unprepared by a storm two weeks ago, streets and highways were largely deserted this time. Schools and any businesses in the corporate capital of the South have announced closures for the next two days, Fox News reported.

The scene was markedly different from the one Jan 28, when thousands of children were stranded all night in schools by less than 3 inches of snow and countless drivers abandoned their cars after getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours and hours.

In the South, the snow and ice will stick around for a while, since there isn't a big warm-up in the immediate forecast, according to the weatherman.

There should be some melting on Friday, with temperatures near freezing point, but the temperature will still be below average on Saturday.


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