A blast of winter weather pushed across the South on Sunday, coating bridges and roads with snow, sleet and freezing rain and causing hundreds of flight cancellations.
The governors of Louisiana, Alabama and Georgia issued emergency declarations. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley said workers had readied snow and salt trucks to help clear icy roads, and he asked all residents to stay home Sunday night and today unless it is imperative that they have to travel.
Mississippi officials warned motorists that ice was accumulating on roads and bridges in many counties, creating hazardous driving conditions.
The National Weather Service posted winter storm warnings from east Texas to the Carolinas.
Daniel Lamb, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, Miss., said heavy snow had fallen Sunday afternoon from Arkansas to north Mississippi. Other areas of the South saw freezing rain and sleet.
Forecasters expected the most extreme conditions in Mississippi and northern Louisiana overnight with the possibility of heavy ice accumulation in places, including in the Atlanta metro area.
Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas were expecting icy weather overnight.
The anticipated storm caused Georgia officials to move today's inauguration of newly elected Gov. Nathan Deal from the state Capitol steps inside to the shelter of the House chamber. The inaugural gala was scrapped to keep supporters off treacherous roads.
Hundreds of flights were canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Steady sleet was falling in counties south of the city.
Delta Air Lines canceled 330 flights starting about 8 p.m. Sunday and another 1,400 flights today. AirTran Airways canceled 14 flights for Sunday and another 270 for today, spokesman Christopher White said.
Both airlines are allowing passengers whose flights are canceled to change them without fees.
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport spokesman David Magana said 200 flights, or about a quarter of the schedule, were canceled in anticipation of the weather.
In eastern Tennessee, the Weather Service said 4 to 6 inches of snow could fall by Sunday evening, with the heaviest hitting early Monday.
Louisiana authorities closed portions of Interstate 220 and many churches from Louisiana to Alabama canceled Sunday night services.