Death toll mounting from winter storm, deep freeze in South - | WBTV Charlotte

Death toll mounting from winter storm, deep freeze in South

Rescuers at scene in suburban New Orleans on January 17, 2018 where car slid into canal. (Credit: Photo provided to CBS courtesy of WWL-TV) Rescuers at scene in suburban New Orleans on January 17, 2018 where car slid into canal. (Credit: Photo provided to CBS courtesy of WWL-TV)
(CBS News/AP) -

Several Southern states will be dealing with the lingering effects of a slow-moving winter storm that dumped a half-foot of snow on North Carolina's largest cities, dusted the Deep South and killed at least 10 people.

From Charlotte to Raleigh, North Carolina's five most populous cities all saw significant snow from a system that followed an atypical west-to-east path across the state - and moved more slowly than forecasters had predicted. By late Wednesday afternoon, Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Durham each had more than 6 inches, while some places saw as much as 10 inches.

In northern Durham County, Ben Kimmel marveled as snow blew across his property all day Wednesday. Meteorologists say parts of the county saw 8 inches of snow. Kimmel said he had propane to heat his house if he lost electricity and has extra water, too.

"This is really unusual for this area to have this much snow," said the 49-year-old, who has lived in the state most of his life.

Kimmel said his shoveling priorities would be walkways for him and his wife, as well as their dogs.

"We have two little dogs that are not in the mood for this, so I'll probably try to clear some paths for them," he said.

Elsewhere, icicles hung from a statue of jazz musicians in normally balmy New Orleans on Wednesday, and drivers unaccustomed to ice spun their wheels across Atlanta, which was brought to a near-standstill by little more than an inch of snow.

At least four people died in Louisiana, including a man knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans when a pickup spun out on ice.

An 8-month-old baby in a car that slid into a canal in suburban New Orleans died. The baby's mother was in critical condition. Broken glass and skid marks could still be seen near the canal, reports CBS New Orleans affiliate WWL-TV. Officials said ice on the roadway was a contributing factor to the accident.

Sheriff Joe Lopinto cautioned other motorists to stay off of the roads and the icy conditions. "Stay at your house, we don't need any more of this," WWL quotes his as saying.

Also in Louisiana, a wheelchair-bound elderly man found dead in house with no heat in Pointe Coupee Parish. And a firefighter died after being struck by a vehicle while investigating a crash.

Two others died along an icy stretch of I-75 southeast of Atlanta when a driver lost control and hit them, one of them inside a stopped car and the other standing beside it, authorities said.

One person died in a weather-related traffic accident in West Virginia.

In the freezing Houston area, a homeless man was found dead behind a trash bin, apparently of exposure, while an 82-year-old woman with dementia succumbed to the cold after walking away from her home.

Also, a woman was discovered dead in a snowy park near City Hall in Memphis. The temperature was around 10 degrees when she was found.

In North Carolina, state troopers responded to 1,600 crashes while Charlotte police reported almost 300 more by early Thursday, reports the CBS affiliate there, WBTV. Police said they normally average 170 incidents in 24 hours. By 4 p.m. Wednesday, police tweeted they'd "surpassed the number of crashes CMPD typically works a day and it's not even "rush hour."

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said state officials weren't aware of any fatalities. About 30,000 homes and businesses were without power, including about half in Durham and Wake counties.

"This has been quite a white-out for our state," Cooper said at a weather briefing late Wednesday. "This has been a slower-moving storm than anticipated so it's dumping more snow on us."

The cold drove soaring electricity usage in parts of the South, where many homes rely on electricity for heating and hot water. A regional electricity grid manager, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, asked Wednesday that customers in most of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and a slice of eastern Texas reduce their power usage Thursday morning after usage Wednesday hit a winter record. If supply can't meet demand, local utilities would have to resort to rolling blackouts.

Cities from Atlanta to Raleigh saw business slow to a crawl. Downtown Atlanta was eerily quiet. Dozens of accidents were reported across the metropolitan area, one involving a salt truck.

After raking North Carolina, forecasters expected the system to move offshore. Snow tapered across the state by late Wednesday, but wind chill warnings remained in effect overnight.

"This system should actually transition off the coast and not give too many more people issues after (Wednesday)," said James Morrow, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Raleigh.

He said one reason that so many North Carolina cities have gotten hit is the storm's west-east motion, which differs from many winter storms that move in a more northeastern direction.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, minor league hockey team the Charlotte Checkers played a game in an empty building. Fans were not allowed in because of the wintry conditions.

Connor Howe, who does application engineering for a home smart metering company, trudged through neighborhood streets with his girlfriend, Allie Eidson, who had the day off from classes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, about 30 miles west. Between study and online work, they said they'd taken breaks to cook and go outside to toss snowballs.

"I just got snowed in for the day, but we're happy about it," Eidson said.

To the west, in Winston-Salem, which got more than 6 inches of snow, Wake Forest University women's volleyball coach Bill Ferguson said the latest snowstorm marked his third since moving from Los Angeles 18 months ago. He and his family found a hill on the campus and christened it their sledding spot.

"I don't know if this is real winter for most of the country, but for us, it is," Ferguson said.

Michelle Klosterman, a ninth-grade biology teacher, brought her two children out.

"This one was a real surprise, so it makes it more fun," Klosterman said.

© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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