Rare snow blankets South


Associated Press Writer

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) - A powerful March snowstorm blanketed much of generally balmy Alabama and then marched across Georgia on Sunday, forcing some flight cancelations in Atlanta as America's East Coast braced for a potential pummeling.

The storm headed toward the Northeast and threatened to drop up to a foot (1/3 of a meter) of snow in the Philadelphia area, 13 inches (33 centimeters) in New York and 15 inches (38 centimeters) across southern New England late Sunday.

Alabama was first up for a rare white blanketing for the South in March. Most roads there were clear, but snowfalls forced more than 210 churches in central Alabama to cancel morning services as a precaution.

Scott Unger at the National Weather Service office in Birmingham said a winter storm warning was in effect until 3 p.m. Sunday mostly for several northern and eastern counties of Alabama - with much of the rest of the state under a winter storm advisory.

He said snow accumulations could reach up to five inches (12.5 centimeters) in some areas of Alabama, where blustery winds whipped even the usually balmy Gulf Coast.

The weather service said winter storm warnings are in effect from northern Georgia and the Carolinas through the Mid-Atlantic states into New England.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways canceled some Sunday flights and a Federal Aviation Administration Web site said flights to Atlanta were experiencing average delays of nearly two hours.

AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said flights out of Atlanta into the Northeast may also be canceled Sunday night as the messy, developing storm took aim at walloping at wide swath of the East Coast up through Maine.

"I expect the Northeast will be hit pretty hard tonight so our expectations is that people flying into Washington, D.C., and Boston will need to call or check our Web site for possible cancellations," Hutcheson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Delta spokesman Brian Kruse said the airline is monitoring the weather and asking customers flying to, from or through Atlanta to call Delta or check its Web site for updates.

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