Storm blows over Clayton

By Ed Brock

Of the customers braving Monday's cold weather to go to the Jonesboro post office, Gregory Williams seemed to have had the most difficulty with the winter storm.

"I've got an older car. I have to let my car run a good long time to warm up," Williams said. "That's about it, though."

Most people in Clayton County were basically unaffected by the winter storm that glazed east and northeast Georgia with ice, causing power outages and school closings. However, officials still urged residents to be prepared since future storms are still possible.

Monday's high temperatures were only expected to reach the lower 30s, but the rain in Clayton County was confined primarily to drizzle, according to the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City. The Weather Service said the forecast for today was partly cloudy with highs in the lower 40s and lows tonight in the lower 30s.

There was some ice at least in the Jonesboro area, Clayton County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director John Dalton said.

"It was spotty here and there," Dalton said.

Dalton also said there were no reports of damage from the storm and no schools were closed.

"The north got it more," Dalton said.

About 300 customers lost power around mid-morning Monday but most were restored by noon, Georgia Power spokeswoman Carol Boatright said.

Delta Air Lines had cancelled around 331 outbound flights by 11 a.m. Monday and they were experiencing delays of 30 minutes to an hour and a half for most flights due to de-icing, Delta spokeswoman Catherine Stengel said. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport had opened 10 de-icing centers for use Monday, airport spokeswoman Triphenya Zachery-Bailey said.

Flights to Chicago, Philadelphia and Toronto were experiencing delays from 28 minutes to more than nine hours for some Chicago flights, according to the Federal Aviation Administration's Web site.

Stengel said the airline had lifted fees for re-scheduling flights and, while she did not know if further delays could be expected today she urged travelers to call ahead. Delta flyers can call 1-800-325-1999 or go to www.delta.com.

The 90-day forecast for the Clayton County area called for below average temperatures but also below average precipitation, NWS meteorologist Von Woods said. That means there's a lower than average likelihood of severe winter storms in this area.

"But we can't say it won't happen," Woods said.

Dalton said that people should remain ready to deal with winter's worst.

"We're missing it right now, but next week we might not," Dalton said.

He recommended having three days of food and water and necessary medicine available and an alternative heat source.

"People who depend on electricity to run medical life support systems should have backup power," Dalton said.

A good resource for assuring one's readiness is "Are You Ready? A guide to Citizen's Preparedness," a free publication from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Copies of the book can be ordered by calling 1-800-480-2520.

Snow and freezing rain iced highways from the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic states Monday, a day after a separate storm made travel risky from the central Plains to the Carolinas.

At least 25 deaths were blamed on the storms.

Schools were closed Monday from Illinois into the Carolinas and Georgia, where ice glazed highways, as well as in parts of Nebraska, North Dakota and Minnesota, where the problem was snow. Businesses and government offices were closed in areas of North Carolina and South Carolina.

The weather system crossing the upper Midwest and Great Lakes was expected to deliver more snow today for parts of the Northeast, including the New York City area.

The weather was blamed for six deaths in Missouri, with one in Ohio, one in Kansas, one in West Virginia, three in Nebraska, five in North Carolina, one in South Carolina, four in Iowa, two in Indiana and one in Minnesota.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.