A winter storm striking the South disrupted a new governor's inauguration in North Carolina Friday, coated roads with hazardous ice and snow in parts of Georgia and Alabama, and triggered hundreds of fender benders in Tennessee. Road workers manning 12-hour shifts pre-treated roads after states of emergency were declared in Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas—racing the storm as it closed in on a wide swath of the Southeast with a messy mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain. Parts of North Carolina and Virginia are forecast to receive up to a foot of snow. The National Weather Service said early Saturday that North Carolina cities including Winston-Salem, received six inches or more of snow overnight, while sleet and ice are making roads treacherous in Raleigh and areas southeast, the AP reports.
Officials warned that their Southern cities, with far fewer snowplows than up north, could grind to a halt with even a thin coat of ice or snow. Sleet and snow fell on the outlying northwest suburbs of Atlanta while rain and freezing rain brought slush to that city's streets. But there was no immediate repeat of the epic traffic jam of a January 2014 snowstorm when gridlock engulfed interstates and many were stranded in their cars. In North Carolina, the storm threat sent new Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper scrambling to his Executive Mansion ballroom for an abridged swearing-in ceremony. A larger outdoor ceremony Saturday organized for thousands had to be scrapped, along with a parade. "Consider yourselves the chosen few," Cooper jokingly told well-wishers who made it to his 20-minute oath-taking. (Read more winter weather stories.)