February 8, 2014 / 8:16 PM / 4 years ago

RPT-Roads resemble parking lots after snowfall in Little Rock, Ark.

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By Suzi Parker

Little Rock, Ark., Feb 8 (Reuters) - Abandoned cars littered roads in Little Rock, Arkansas on Saturday, after heavy snowfall the night before turned thoroughfares into hazardous slalom courses and led motorists to leave their vehicles behind, police said.

At the same time, residents of Pennsylvania were coping with the aftermath of wintry weather from earlier in the week that has left nearly 150,000 homes and businesses still without power in the southeast part of the state.

Little Rock had two to four inches (5-10 cm) of snowfall in two hours on Friday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Little Rock police said they received reports of more than 100 accidents, and some streets resembled parking lots.

It was not clear how many cars were left abandoned in Little Rock due to the snowfall, but a police dispatcher said one street alone had about 30 vehicles left behind.

Officers planned to tow abandoned cars on Saturday in order “to open up the roadways for city crews to plow and treat the streets,” the Little Rock Police Department said in a statement.

Forecasters on Friday warned of the snowfall, and schools let out early in anticipation. But the snow came later and took some motorists by surprise.

“It was terrifying with all the cars sliding around,” Angie Thompson, a Little Rock resident, said after abandoning her car three blocks from her home. “It looked like a life-size pinball machine. I hit someone who was stuck and then had two cars hit me within 10 minutes.”

The sudden snowfall in Little Rock came after an ice storm in Atlanta last month snarled traffic, leaving school buses stranded overnight and forcing one woman to deliver her baby along an interstate highway.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal was heavily criticized both by members of the public and his political opponents for the state’s slow response to the storm.

On Wednesday, a winter storm that hit the northeast United States cut power to over a million homes and businesses, hitting Pennsylvania the hardest with about 849,000 customers in the state without electricity at one point.

Repair efforts have been hampered as utility crews have been forced to dig out snowbanks and chip ice off damaged electrical equipment before they can begin repairs.

Nearly 150,000 customers were still without power in the Philadelphia area on Saturday, said Cathy Engel Menendez, a spokeswoman for local utility PECO, an Exelon company.

PECO officials hoped to restore power to most of those customers by the end of Sunday, but some people in hard-hit rural and suburban areas may have to wait until early next week, Menendez said. “It was the worst winter storm we’ve ever experienced,” she said.

The storm also knocked out power to nearly 200,000 customers in Maryland, but 95 percent of them had seen service restored by Friday, according to Baltimore Gas and Electric.

No major winter storms are expected over the weekend, although many areas between Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia and parts of the Midwest could see light smatterings of snow, according to AccuWeather.com. (Reporting by Suzi Parker in Little Rock, Writing By Jonathan Allen; Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Chris Reese)

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