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Parts Of South Brace For First Snowfall In A Decade

Dylan Smith, 10, of Jackson, Miss., shows good form as he works on his batting swing in the snow.  Much of Mississippi is expected to receive several inches of snow by midmorning.
Rogelio V. Solis
Dylan Smith, 10, of Jackson, Miss., shows good form as he works on his batting swing in the snow. Much of Mississippi is expected to receive several inches of snow by midmorning.

A rare winter snowstorm moved Friday along the Gulf Coast and up the Atlantic coastline, forcing massive flight cancellations at the world's busiest airport as snow fell in Atlanta.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for most of Georgia and the Carolinas, where significant snowfall was expected from late afternoon into the evening.

National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Eckert predicted regions of the country that rarely see snow would be affected by the rare winter snow storm on Friday and Saturday — including the coastal cities of Savannah, Ga., and Charleston and Myrtle Beach, S.C., where snowfall accumulations could reach 3 inches along the shore.

Snow hasn't fallen in Savannah in 14 years, and Charleston hasn't seen a snowfall since January 2000.

Some snow totals rivaled those seen in parts of the Northeast, which continued to dig out from a massive blizzard that battered the area earlier this week. Single-day snowfall totals broke records in Dallas, where the National Weather Service recorded 12.5 inches of snow by 4 a.m. Friday, smashing a total of 12.1 inches set in January 1964.

The storm moved south along the Gulf Coast, bringing a rare winter snowfall to coastal Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle early Friday.

Hundreds of flights were canceled at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport where snow was falling by early afternoon. Delta Air Lines, which is based in Atlanta, and its feeder partners canceled 1,100 flights in anticipation of 2 to 4 inches of snow in the metro Atlanta area. AirTran Airways canceled 62 flights because of the snow.

Dallas-based American Airlines and its American Eagle affiliate canceled about 400 flights Friday, including 228 at its hub at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. Friday's cancellations ended a difficult week for air carriers, who canceled thousands of flights this week when two blizzards hit portions of the Northeast in less than a week.

The storm began moving into the South late Thursday, bringing snow to southwestern Alabama through Friday morning. By early Friday afternoon, southwest and south central Alabama reported up to 5 inches of snow. The NWS said another 2 inches were possible before the storm pushed through in the later afternoon.

George T. Moss said he awoke to find about 2 inches of snow at his 15-room Timberland Motel in Chatom, Ala., about 60 miles north of Alabama's Gulf Coast.

"I got up this morning and my pickup was just covered," said Moss. "I'm sitting here looking out over my property, 30 or 40 acres, looking at ponds and my property, a deer. It's just real pretty."

In Century, Fla., 44-year-old Steve Pace scraped some of the remnants of a brief snowfall from the hood of his truck and formed a snowball to throw at his grandson, 6-year-old Kaleb. It only snowed for about 10 minutes before giving way to rain, but it was enough for Kaleb.

"I've only ever seen snow on TV till now," Kaleb said, smiling.

Savannah, Ga., braced for as much as 3 inches of snow. The city's last snowfall was 0.2 inches back in February 1996.

"There's no doubt this is a significant event for us," said NWS meteorologist Jonathan Lamb.

Written by NPR's Deborah Tedford, with reporting by Dave Mattingly, Kathy Lohr and The Associated Press

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