Southern snow: Winter storm to roar from Texas to Va.

6:36 PM, Jan 27, 2014   |    comments
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Photo Gallery: Cold weather photos from around the country
Snow is forecast to fall from southern Texas to southern Virginia, with the heaviest amounts in the Carolinas. (Photo: National Weather Service)

(USA Today)-- Now it's the South's turn to get in on the snowy "fun."

A rare southern winter storm is forecast to bring ice and snow all the way from southern Texas to southern Virginia late Tuesday and into Wednesday.

The National Weather Service has issued winter storm watches, warnings and advisories from southeast Texas east along the Gulf Coast through Georgia, the southern half of South Carolina, eastern North Carolina and far southeast Virginia, a distance of more than 1,200 miles.

"Very hazardous travel is likely across a long swath of the South," reported Weather Channel meteorologist Nick Wiltgen.

Snowfall is expected to top 3 inches from southeastern Alabama to eastern North Carolina, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

"A small area in eastern parts of the Carolinas will even have upwards of 6 inches from this storm, including Fayetteville, N.C., and Columbia, S.C.," she reports.

It could be one of the biggest snowstorms on record in portions of eastern North Carolina, according to weather service meteorologist Karen Goodall. In New Bern, N.C., she said, the three storms with the most snowfall were the ones that dropped 12.5 inches in 1965, 11 inches in 1973, and 6 inches in 1989.

Before the storm, temperatures in eastern North Carolina on Monday were near 70 degrees.

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For Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Ga., it's the first winter storm watch issued for those two cities since Feb. 11, 2010, according to Wiltgen.

The South Carolina Legislature will not meet this week because of the winter weather threat.

A winter storm warning was in effect for Tuesday for most of southeastern Louisiana (including New Orleans) and southern Mississippi due to the forecast of ice. Houston and Tallahassee alsowere under a winter storm warning.

A winter storm watch includes most of metro Atlanta. Only a few school districts had announced by Monday afternoon that they would close on Tuesday. Officials from the state Department of Transportation said their crews were standing by.

Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, one of the world's busiest, "will absolutely be open," through the storm, although passengers should check with their airlines about delays or cancellations, said spokesman Reese McCranie.

Meanwhile, incredibly cold temperatures and wind chills will continue through Wednesday across much of the central and eastern United States. Temperatures were at or below zero across much of the upper Midwest and the Great Lakes states Monday, with wind chill readings bottoming out at 55 degrees below zero in some parts of northern Minnesota.

At least 20 states were under a wind chill warning or advisory as of late Monday. In Chicago, the temperatures early Tuesday were forecast to be the coldest in five years.

Because of the cold, airlines canceled nearly 1,000 of Tuesday's flights, a day after about 920 flights were cancelled Monday. Flight-tracking service FlightAware.com shows that more than a third of Monday's tally came from just three airports: Chicago O'Hare, Chicago Midway and Cleveland.

The air temperature Tuesday morning in Grand Forks, N.D., was forecast to be -25 degrees.

So far this winter season (Dec. 1, 2013 - Jan. 26, 2014), Duluth, Minn., is tied for its second-coldest winter on record, the weather service reported.

Contributing: Associated Press; Larry Copeland and Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

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