Ice Storm Aimed at Mid-Atlantic as Winter Weather Affects Elections, Causes Traffic Deaths

Winter's latest delivery of misery tied up travel and snarled primary-day voting on the East Coast on Tuesday after icing over parts of the Ohio Valley.

Up to 4 inches of snow and sleet was forecast for northwestern New Jersey before it was expected to change over to rain Wednesday. A bridge over the Delaware River near Philadelphia closed during evening rush hour so crews could spread salt, and speed limits were lowered on others.

"Things got ugly really quickly," said New Jersey State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones. Vehicles slid off Interstate 295 in southern New Jersey, and other highways were shut down, he said.

The National Weather Service issued an ice storm warning through 7 a.m. Wednesday for the Washington and Baltimore regions. Forecasters said at least a quarter-inch of ice could build up on roads and sidewalks.

Maryland extended its polling hours by 90 minutes in Tuesday's primary because the weather created gridlock in areas, preventing people from voting.

In Pennsylvania, Gov. Ed Rendell extended Tuesday's deadline for political candidates to qualify for the state's April 22 primary until noon Thursday, citing weather concerns.

The system also dropped snow in the Midwest, where more than 400 flights were canceled and all were delayed at Chicago's busy O'Hare International Airport. In Michigan, highway officials got edgy as their supplies of road salt dwindled.

"We've got a couple hundred tons being delivered today, but it's getting pretty low," said Mark Sohlden, engineer-manager of the Gladwin County Road Commission. "The way the winter has been so far, we've pretty much exhausted a lot of our supply."

Winter storm warnings were posted from western Tennessee into New England as the storm left the Ohio Valley, where thousands lost power and at least four people were killed in traffic accidents.

A highway in western Kentucky was closed after ice-laden trees fell from a bluff and damaged passing cars, transportation officials said. Louisville police reported more than 250 vehicles abandoned in Jefferson County.

Schools were closed Tuesday in parts of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Classes at Southern Illinois University were canceled by the weather for the first time since the 1980s.

Two people died in Kentucky after their car slid off an icy highway. At least two traffic deaths, along with dozens of injuries, were reported in Missouri.

The Weather Service also issued flood warnings in some parts of Kentucky. Police in the state's western tip said several roads were closed by rising water.

Farther to the south, winter was not the problem; wind was.

Strong storms produced hail, damaging winds and possible tornadoes from Louisiana to Florida, spawning a tornado that killed a woman near New Orleans and winds that upset a moored ship on the Mississippi River.

The storms followed catastrophic weather in the South last week that produced the deadliest tornado outbreak in years. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday reduced that state's death toll from the storms by one, to 31. That puts the overall toll from the storms at 56.