Southern states suffer frigid, icy conditions

Much of the South is caught in the icy grip of a huge winter storm. Rain, snow and ice are sliding below a cold-air front out of the Midwest. Wind chills are well below zero across the Northeast and even in the South, many cities are below freezing.

Ice is blanketing Jackson, Mississippi, but the biggest threat right now is in the Atlanta area, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.

Crews there began preparing the roads overnight Monday; the city in the heart of the Southeast is bracing for the snow and sleet that’s already brought dangerous, icy conditions to much of the country, causing hundreds of accidents.

A semi truck was left dangling over the edge of a Texas overpass Monday after skidding on one of the state’s many sleet-covered roads.

Freezing rain and snow sent drivers spinning, pushing and piling up. More than two dozen vehicles collided on Interstate 40, many of them large trucks.

“Sleet is a little more challenging because people think it acts a little bit like snow but it’s a lot slicker,” Texas department of transportation public information officer Tony Hartzel said. “It could look like its passable, but underneath it could be that black ice.”

A slick runway at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport caused an American Airlines flight to veer off course, skidding into the grass. None of the 68 people on board were injured.

The conditions weren’t much better on an Oklahoma highway, where a whiteout brought traffic to a crawl.

The streets in neighboring Arkansas were also an icy, slippery mess. Drivers were left helpless on the side of the road and a red prick-up began sliding backwards, unable to make it up a hill.

“You never know when you’re going to hit some black ice,” cautioned one driver.

It only took 2 inches of sleet to cause big problems in Texas.

“Looks can be deceiving on the roadway,” Hartzel said.

Officials in Atlanta are hoping to avoid a repeat of last January’s storm, when icy conditions and just 3 inches of snow stranded people in their cars overnight and backed up traffic for days, turning the city’s busiest highways into parking lots.

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