A rare snowfall blanketed south Louisiana and parts of Mississippi Thursday, closing schools, government offices and bridges, triggering crashes on major highways and leaving thousands of people without power.

Up to 8 inches of snow was reported in parts of Louisiana. Snow also covered a broad swath of Mississippi, including the Jackson area, and closed schools in more than a dozen districts.

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A heavy band of snow coated windshields and grassy areas in New Orleans, where about 1 inch accumulated. Office workers stepped out of high-rises to catch a snowflake, snap pictures with cell-phone cameras and swap snow stories.

New Orleans' last snowfall, in 2004, was a dusting. The National Weather Service said the previous earliest date for measurable snowfall in New Orleans was Dec. 22, 1989.

In Louisiana, roughly 10,000 power outages were reported by Cleco Corp., one of the state's largest power providers. The company said it expected most of the outages to be restored by nightfall.

Some Thursday morning flights at Louis Armstrong International Airport outside New Orleans were delayed and canceled, but the airport said flights were back to normal by the afternoon.

In southeast Louisiana, temperatures were above freezing so accumulations were not expected to linger much beyond Thursday.