Rare Snow Covers Parts of South Louisiana and Mississippi

WeatherNew OrleansWeather ReportsMeteorological DisastersJackson (Hinds, Mississippi)

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.

Parts of Louisiana were expected to get up to four inches of

snow. Snow also covered a broad swath of Mississippi, including the

Jackson area, and closed schools in more than a dozen districts.

The National Weather Service in Jackson said up to 8 inches was

possible in the southern and eastern parts of the state.

A heavy band of snow coated windshields and grassy areas in New

Orleans, where the National Weather Service issued a winter storm

warning.

Office workers stepped out of high-rises to catch a snowflake,

snap pictures with cell-phone cameras and swap snow stories.

At a park in New Orleans' Uptown neighborhood, Sara Echaniz, 41,

snapped photos and dodged snowballs thrown by her son, 3-year-old

Sam. "He didn't believe it was snow until it started sticking to

the ground," said Ecahniz, a native of Rochester, N.Y., who was

pregnant with the child the last time it snowed in New Orleans, in

December 2004.

In Alabama, heavy rains prompted forecasters to issue a flood

watch for parts of the state. Wintry precipitation also was

possible later Thursday as temperatures were expected to drop.

Flood watches were issued through Thursday night for much of

North Carolina ahead of the storm system. Colder air behind the

front could produce snow late Thursday and early Friday in the

mountains.

In Louisiana, nearly 7,000 power outages were reported in

south-central parishes as falling tree limbs snapped under the

weight of ice and snow.

Some flights at Louis Armstrong International Airport outside

New Orleans were delayed and canceled. Airport spokeswoman Michelle

Wilcut said deicing equipment was being used on planes. Cleco

Corp., one of the state's largest power providers, said the number

of outages was expected to grow.

Forecasters said the mix of sleet and snow was expected to

diminish later in the day as the weather system moved east.

In southeast Louisiana, temperatures were above freezing so

accumulations were not expected to linger much beyond Thursday. An

inch was forecast for New Orleans.

The wintry weather is rare in south Louisiana, though the

state's northern parishes see it about once a year. New Orleans'

last snowfall, in 2004, was a dusting that came nine months before

Hurricane Katrina struck. The record snowfall for the city is about

5 inches, recorded Dec. 30, 1963.

The weather service said the previous earliest date for

measurable snowfall in New Orleans was Dec. 22, 1989.

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