Winter storms shock US Deep South

Rare and unusual snow and ice in the US have led to three states calling a state of emergency. Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina have been hardest hit by the arctic vortex. Drivers there were told to stay off the roads. In Atlanta, Georgia, miles of snow-covered motorways packed with hundreds of stranded motorists waited hours for the traffic to clear. In Washington, the National Gallery’s ice rink closed. Officials said it was too cold for skaters to be out on the ice. The cold snap is part of an arctic front that’s put millions of people under weather warnings. Across the Deep South, the deep freeze could make temperatures feel as cold as minus 34 degrees Celsius.
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1. A truck driver slides off the highway in icy weather, as he tries to avoid another wrecked truck on I-65, in Clanton, Alabama, on January 28, 2014. Overnight, the South saw fatal crashes and hundreds of fender-benders. Jackknifed 18-wheelers littered Interstate 65 in central Alabama. Ice shut down bridges on Florida's panhandle and the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, one of the world's longest spans, in Louisiana. Some commuters pleaded for help via cellphones while still holed up in their cars, while others trudged miles home, abandoning their vehicles outright.




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2. Icicles hang off a camellia bush in historic Forsyth Park in Savannah, Georgia, after freezing rain hit the area, on January 29, 2014.




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3. In this aerial photo, traffic is snarled along the I-285 perimeter north of the metro area after a winter snow storm in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 29, 2014. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal said early Wednesday that the National Guard was sending military Humvees onto Atlanta's snarled freeway system in an attempt to move stranded school buses and get food and water to people. Georgia State Patrol troopers headed to schools where children were hunkered down early Wednesday after spending the night there, and transportation crews continued to treat roads and bring gas to motorists, Deal said.




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4. A driver uses a mobile phone in a car after running off the roadway due to a snow storm in Atlanta, on January 29, 2014.




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5. People rest in the aisles of a Publix grocery store after being stranded due to a snow storm in Atlanta, on January 29, 2014.




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6. Karen Wang sleeps in the aisle of a Publix grocery store after being stranded due to a snow storm in Atlanta, on January 29, 2014.




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7. A water fountain is covered in ice on 14th street in Atlanta, on January 23, 2014.




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8. In this view looking south toward downtown Atlanta, the ice-covered interstate system is empty on a Wednesday morning, after a winter snow storm slammed the city with over 2 inches of snow that turned highways into parking lots when motorists abandoned their vehicles creating massive traffic jams lasting through January 29, 2014.




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9. Brookhaven police monitor a car fire in a vehicle left overnight by a motorist who was stranded by impassable roads after winter weather moved through Georgia, on January 29, 2014, in Brookhaven, Georgia.




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10. Claire Woolsey, a Belhaven University student from Ireland, holds onto Serenity Aguilar, 4, as they use a trash bag as a body board to slide down the hills that surround the soccer fields at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, on January 28, 2014. Students used trash bags, cardboard, storage covers and stripped down skateboards to try to "surf" the hills.




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11. Traffic moves south on I-75 past a hill covered with ice in Covington, Kentucky, on January 29, 2014, where temperatures remain in single digits.




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12. B.B. St. Roman, executive director of the New Orleans Police Department Homeless Assistance Unit, assists a man to a shelter in New Orleans, on January 28, 2014. The third and nastiest arctic blast of the season hit Louisiana on Tuesday.




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13. Officer Delaney talks with a crash victim who was involved in a five-car pileup on Johnson Ferry Road in Sandy Springs, Georgia, early morning Wednesday, January 29, 2014. Around Atlanta, nearly all public entities and most businesses were shut down early Wednesday, and officials encouraged would-be motorists not to drive.




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14. In this view looking south toward downtown Atlanta near the I-75 Chattahoochee River overpass, abandoned cars are piled up on the median of the ice-covered interstate after a winter snow storm slammed the city with over 2 inches of snow that turned highways into parking lots creating massive traffic jams lasting through Wednesday, January 29, 2014, in Atlanta.




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15. Traffic at a standstill on Interstate 65 northbound as officials work to clear abandoned vehicles in Hoover, Alabama, on January 29, 2014.




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16. Kevin Moore hands out snacks and water to stranded motorists on Interstate 285 in Dunwoody, Georgia, on January 29, 2014.




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17. Virginia Welch (left) Caroline Callahan (center), and Caroline Hurry enjoy sledding on the ice-covered street in Indian Springs, Alabama, on January 29, 2014.




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18. An icicle drips as a bundled up pedestrian passes by in downtown San Antonio, Texas, on January 24, 2014.




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19. Snowmen line the trunk of a car as cold weather descends on Mobile, Alabama, on January 29, 2014.




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20. Tristen Daniel and Kayla Morris from Daphne slide down a hill at Wake Forest golf club in Robertsdale, Alabama, on January 29, 2014. A rare winter storm gripped the U.S. South on Wednesday, killing five people, stranding children overnight at their schools, gnarling traffic across many states and cancelling flights at the world's busiest airport. At least five deaths in Alabama were blamed on the icy storm that slammed the region from Texas through Georgia and the Carolinas.