Heavy snow falls in Hartselle, Ala., causing many traffic problems and some fun for children Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Motorist James Burton stands in front of his car stranded on US Highway 31 on Hartselle Mountain after the stretch of highway became to slick for many motorists to get up the hill. (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Gary Cosby Jr.)
"Winter Storm Iago is exiting stage right," says Winter Weather Expert Tom Niziol. Iago has moved off the coast of Cape Cod and into the Atlantic, but not before dumping snow and ice on a huge swath of the U.S. However, the morning commute could still be dangerous for some.
"Even after Iago was gone, temperatures dropping below freezing are causing concerns about black ice and lingering snow on the ground from Mississippi to Virginia," says weather.com Sr. meteorologist Jon Erdman.
Virginia was among the hardest hit states, receiving more than a foot of snow in some places Thursday. School systems throughout the South are starting late today due to the concern about black ice on the roads.
Iago Notable Snowfall Totals
- Princeton, WV: 15" snow
- Glenlyn, VA: 13" snow
- Grassy Creek, NC: 12" snow
- Ackerman, MS: 6" snow
- Oak Grove, AL: 5" snow
The hardest hit areas were in the Southwest corner of Virginia. Grayson County and Galax received a foot of snow. The states western mountains received 6-9" of snow and a few inches were reported in central and Eastern Virginia.
Road crews were our before dawn Friday to plow and treat roads, particularly Interstate 77, which was snow-covered and dotted with disabled vehicles. Virginia State Police say they were swamped with calls at the height of the storm. Dispatchers fielded more than 760 calls reporting crashes and disabled vehicles.
The northern and central parts of the state were hardest hit, receiving as much as 4" of snow. Businesses and schools closed early and traffic was snarled. Drivers were stuck on Interstate 65 for as long as 7 hours because of a series of crashed that caused a miles-long traffic jam.
Many school systems are opening late Friday morning because of the threat of black ice.
Wintry weather came into Huntsville, Ala., and officials at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center postponed an outdoor rocket test so employees could have more time for their commute.
The heaviest snow fell in the north Georgia mountains. Schools in at least five counties in the northwest part of the state dismissed early Thursday.
Parts of the Atlanta area received a dusting of snow. A few patches of black ice were reported on Atlanta roadways before dawn on Friday. Overall, however, the Atlanta metro area escaped any significant problems. Most of the isolated icy spots were on interstate bridges and overpasses.
Accumulating snow fell in parts of Mississippi and Alabama, areas that don't always see winter weather. The snow measured as high as 6-inches just to the east of Ackerman in central Mississippi, with snowfall totals also hitting the 4-inch mark in Winona.
Mississippi is attributing one death to the storm. Police in Lowndes County say a 64-year-old man died when his car collided with a large tree that fell because the ground was too saturated to support it.
"Black ice is evident on the roads. They had a lot of water the past couple of days here and then the snow on top of that," reports Dave Malkoff from Canton, North Carolina.
Wind gusts were even stronger in North Carolina, reaching 60-mph near Murphy. Creston and Glande Valley, N.C. had seen 4-inches by 7:30 p.m., with more snow expected overnight.
North Carolina is another state that's been saturated this week. The Weather Channel's Dave Malkoff saw first-hand evidence of days worth of heavy rain when he and his crew ran across a mudslide in Burnsville.
Moisture Helps Drought
It's been a wet week across the South and mid-South, even before Winter Storm Iago. Despite the constant dreariness, the rain has been good for the persistent drought.
The Weather Channel's Severe Weather Expert Dr. Greg Forbes notes "There has been a beneficial rise in the Mississippi River, which had gotten so low in Missouri earlier this month."
Forbes says although it would have been best if the heaviest rains had fallen in the northern parts of the Mississippi River, the river has already risen nearly 10-feet, which is good for barge traffic.
The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows about 59-percent of the Lower 48 is still seeing drought conditions.