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Icy vengeance continues across South

BY SUSAN KIM | Washington, DC | January 30, 2000

The southern U.S. got no break from severe winter weather as a snow and ice storm continued to hammer multiple states.

At least five new traffic fatalities have been blamed on this latest storm, which has also caused airport delays and widespread power outages.

A coating of ice covered many parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Alabama, and parts of both Arkansas and Mississippi had a foot of snow Friday. Shelters were open throughout Arkansas, where more than 1,000 people had to be rescued from their cars.

Georgia residents, still reeling from last weekend's ice storm that caused some $35 million in damage, are fearing more to come, though so far Super Bowl fans have been able to arrive in Atlanta in earnest.

The worst of the storm is expected to hit Atlanta through the weekend with four inches of snow. Then, in a grim repeat of last weekend's storm, forecasters say it will move up the coast.

That means North Carolina, already buried under its largest snow fall in history, could get even more. Two feet of snow fell on the state earlier this week, stalling efforts to rebuild thousands of homes damaged by Hurricane Floyd in September. The snow not only halted construction but also dampened the spirits of residents who have seen a record spate of disaster in a comparatively short time.

Faith-based response groups are carefully monitoring the situation in North Carolina. Gov. Jim Hunt has declared a state of emergency, and thousands of people are still without power.

Church World Service reported that its personnel are paying particular attention to how the unprecedented winter weather will affect the state's long-term recovery from Hurricane Floyd.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief estimated that the severe winter weather will set back North Carolina's recovery efforts by two or three weeks.

Earlier this week, a giant wall of snow traveled up the east coast, dumping two feet in areas stretching from the Carolinas to New York.

The storm was part of the same system that paralyzed Georgia with sleet and ice last weekend.

That storm caused difficulty for east coast residents because areas that typically get blanketed got little snow, while areas with typically light snow fall were hit hard.

"This storm was almost like a wall. We got nothing, and we usually get hammered," said Mary Jane Bonser, housing division chief at the Allegheny County Department of Community Services. In western Maryland, "the wind blew terribly but that was all we got."

In Cumberland, Md., a western Maryland town that usually expects high snowfall and flooding, residents were spared. "It's nice for the other end of the state to know they have to deal with it," said Sharon Kazary, executive director of NAILS, an interfaith flood recovery program.

Scientists from NASA, in a report released in January, said there could be more of these kinds of extremes in coming years because of a fundamental shift in temperatures in the western part of the Pacific Ocean.

The Climate Prediction Center reported that, this winter, residents should look for below-normal temperatures in the northern states and Alaska and above-normal temperatures in the lower half of the continental United States and Hawaii. Also, dry conditions will likely continue in the southern part of the country, with above-average snow and rain in the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast.

Weather extremes are already in evidence across the U.S. While snow covers Washington state's Cascade Mountains, the hillsides north of Los Angeles are scorched black from brush fires, the result of a winter that is hotter and drier than normal.

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