Wicked Winter Storm Freezes Traffic in Deep South

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A major winter storm hitting the Deep South wreaked havoc across several states Tuesday, as schools let out early and commuters hit the roads early to get home safely before the storm began.

The rush to get home caused gridlock in many places. In Atlanta, traffic was so bad, a baby girl was delivered alongside Interstate 285.

Capt. Steve Rose, a spokesman for Sandy Springs police, said an officer made it to the mother and her husband in time to help with the delivery, which he described as "flawless." There were no complications and the family was taken to a hospital.

Across several states, from Texas to Georgia, drivers abandoned their vehicles and walked home.

In some school districts buses couldn’t get children home safely despite an early release. Teachers and students at those schools found themselves spending the night in their classrooms.

As many as 50 million people across the region could be affected by the time the snow stops on Wednesday.

Click play to watch CBN News Reporter Lorie Johnson's earlier report from CBN Newswatch, Jan. 28.

Earlier Tuesday, the National Weather Service issued winter storm watches and warnings from Virginia all the way down to the Gulf Coast. Road crews across the United States were prepared for the worst, but many communities are running out of road salt.

"Lots of spinouts," snow plow driver Fred Englehorn said. "The roads are real icy due to the temperatures, and the salt doesn't work in these temperatures too well. It gives you traction, but you know that's only where the salt is -- it's not really melting anything."

Forecasters are warning of record-breaking temperatures and conditions.

"Two major concerns with this air mass -- number one the unbearable cold across the North. This is a dangerously cold air mass," AccuWeather meteorologist Andrew Baglini warned.

"Now this cold is setting the stage for a major winter storm in the Southeast. [We] don't get a lot of these across the region, and it's going to be bad across the I-10 for travelers -- icy mix of sleet and freezing rain," he continued.

"Most of the country is going to have a frigid February," meteorologist Joe Bastardi predicted. "It'll be centered over the center part of the United States, lots of storminess and lots of snow and cold for the United States.  It's going to be the coldest winter probably since the winters in the late 70s."

Blinding blizzard-like conditions forced the cancellation of hundreds of airline flights, leaving thousands stranded at airports across the country.

Chicago is like a polar deep freeze, with -16 degree temps Tuesday morning.

In New Jersey, ice jams are clogging the Delaware River. A Coast Guard cutter made its way down the river to try and move the process along. In Ohio, giant snowballs called snow rollers formed across the area.

One snow plow driver said it's one of the worst winters he has seen in his 30-plus years of snow plowing.

"It's been pretty brutal for the last couple of weeks," he said. "Everybody's working a lot of hours, putting a lot of time in."

Meanwhile, schools in Chicago, Minneapolis, and Saint Paul, Minn., are closed again, causing a big headache for frustrated parents.

"Although it's cold, I really don't understand why CPS is closed," parent Carolyn Aberman said.

Another parent, Sara Baker, agreed.

"It just throws everyone into chaos," Baker said. "And it doesn't need to be. They can just go into schools, stay in school. They don't need to have outdoor recess."

The extreme wintry weather is expected to last through Wednesday.

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Lorie  Johnson

Lorie Johnson

CBN News Medical Reporter

Lorie Johnson reports on the latest information about health and wellness. Since medicine is constantly changing, she makes sure CBN News viewers are up-to-date on what they need to know in order to live a healthy life.  Follow Lorie on Twitter @LorieCBN and "like" her at Facebook.com/LorieJohnsonCBN.