(Repeats to widen distribution, no change to headline or text)
By Colleen Jenkins
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. Dec 26 The severe winter
weather that hit parts of the central and southern United States
on Christmas Day moved eastward on Wednesday, causing flight
delays and dangerous road conditions for holiday travelers in
the Northeast and Ohio Valley.
Some flights headed for New York, Philadelphia and Newark,
New Jersey, experienced delays averaging one to four hours due
to the inclement weather, the Federal Aviation Administration
About 1,300 U.S. flights had been canceled on Wednesday,
according to FlightAware.com. Several airlines waived ticket
change fees for affected customers.
All four runways at Philadelphia International Airport were
open on Wednesday, but that didn't prevent cancellation of
physical therapist Mindy Bartscherer's flight to Minneapolis.
She and her son Zachary Bartscherer, 24, a lobbyist from
Washington D.C., had planned to visit family but instead waited
forlornly in the baggage claim area for a ride back home. They
expected to return to the airport early on Thursday to try
"We were going to have dinner and see my 2-year-old niece,"
Mindy Bartscherer said of their thwarted plans for Wednesday
The National Weather Service issued blizzard and winter
storm warnings in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, as well as much of
the Northeast, and cautioned that the wintry weather would
create "treacherous" driving conditions.
More than six inches of snow might fall in those regions,
while the area from western New York up into central Maine could
get from 12 to 18 inches, the NWS said.
As of Wednesday morning, Bloomington, Indiana, already had
nearly a foot of snow and Indianapolis had about seven inches,
according to AccuWeather.com.
Severe thunderstorms and widespread rain were expected from
southeast Virginia to Florida, the NWS said, and the eastern
counties in North Carolina and South Carolina were under tornado
watches or warnings for much of the day.
The wet and snowy conditions follow a major winter storm
system that swept through the southern United States on Tuesday,
spawning tornadoes in several states and causing the deaths of
at least five people in weather-related road accidents.
Twisters struck in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and
Louisiana, flattening houses and causing injuries, according to
the weather service. The storm also dumped record snowfalls in
North Texas and Arkansas.
Nearly 200,000 homes and businesses remained without
electricity in Arkansas and Alabama on Wednesday.
Damage assessments were conducted in the 11 Alabama counties
that reported varying degrees of property destruction from
The city of Mobile appeared to be hardest hit, with damage
to as many as 100 structures, including the historic Trinity
Episcopal Church, according to the Alabama Emergency Management
Governor Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency in
Mississippi, where a dozen counties reported damage and more
than 25 people were injured on Tuesday.
The severe holiday weather also contributed to a 21-vehicle
pile-up that shut Interstate 40 in downtown Oklahoma City on
Tuesday and caused power outages for tens of thousands of
A Texas man died after an accident involving a toppled tree
in the road, and icy roads contributed to the deaths of four
people in auto crashes in Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to
About 1,000 people spent the night on cots at the
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport after some 400 flights
were canceled there on Tuesday due to weather, said Cynthia
Vega, media relations manager at the airport.
On Wednesday morning, some 50 more flights were canceled,
"We're hoping to get passengers back on track," Vega said.
"It's probably going to be a little hectic at the airport."
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Additional reporting by Corrie
MacLaggan, Eileen O'Grady, Steve Olafson and Dave Warner;
Editing by Paul Thomasch and Gunna Dickson)