Rare Snowstorm Spreads Across Southern States

Snow, rain and sleet spread across parts of the South on Saturday, dusting lawns and shrubs with flakes and leading one airline to cancel flights.

Enough snow fell in Montgomery, Ala., for children to make snowballs to toss in front of the state Capitol, although the snow melted on contact with road pavement.

Snow also fell as far south as southwestern Mississippi, with totals of as much as 3 inches, although the ground was too warm to allow it to accumulate. It was that area's first snowfall since 2001, the National Weather Service said.

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All five runways at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport were reported open, but Delta Air Lines Inc. spokeswoman Betsy Talton said the airline had about 260 flight cancellations Saturday.

"Our operations control center has decades of experience of operating in inclement weather," Talton said.

An automated Internet report from the Federal Aviation Administration said some flights bound for Hartsfield-Jackson were being delayed by more than four hours.

The last time snow fell at Leander, La., 30 miles west of Alexandria, was three or four years ago, "but right now it's coming down," said resident Zelle Nichols, 78. She said her outdoor thermometer read 32 degrees at 7:35 a.m.

Meteorologists in Georgia warned that the area's mixture of rain and snow mix could make roads icy Sunday morning, after overnight temperatures only in the upper teens and low 20s.

"We're really stressing people should, especially in the north metro area, stay off roads as much as possible," said Laura Griffith of the weather service office in Peachtree City.

The weather service posted freeze watches for Saturday night and Sunday morning in parts of Louisiana, including the New Orleans area. New Orleans put its freeze plan into effect to provide temporary shelter for the homeless for both Saturday and Sunday night.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol and Department of Transportation advised motorists to be cautious because some roads and bridges might ice over. No weather-related injuries had been reported there by midday Saturday.