Deadly winter storm coats the Deep South in ice, causes travel chaos

Last Updated Jan 18, 2018 3:38 AM EST

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The ice and snow storm that blanketed the South is now blamed for at least ten deaths. The storm is making travel dangerous, if not impossible. 

More than 1,700 flights have been cancelled and tens of thousands of homes and businesses have lost power. From Texas to the Carolinas, there were hundreds of car crashes as people tried to navigate the treacherous roads. 

At least one county in Georgia has taken the unusual step of issuing a mandatory curfew for Wednesday night so people will stay off the roads. 

In Louisiana, where a state of emergency was declared, an 8-month-old baby died and a woman was left in critical condition after their vehicle slid off the road into a canal. 

"If we can, use this as a lesson and reminder to stay out of the weather today and stay home with your children," Sheriff Joe Lopinto said. 

Winter Weather Virginia
A police officer walks from the scene of an overturned Jeep after an accident on a snow covered road in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. A winter storm is making it's way through Virginia. Steve Helber / AP

This storm system brought the Houston-area some of the coldest freezing temperatures seen in decades. The Harris County Sheriff's Office reported almost 600 crashes in the last 24 hours, with one fatality due to ice. Traffic conditions were so bad on one highway that some drivers actually started turning around, looking for the closest exit. 

In Charlotte, North Carolina -- where around four inches of snow fell -- one car lost an axle. Police responded to almost two hundred wrecks in that area alone. 

In Atlanta, where temperatures hovered in the teens all morning, two inches of snow fell and the normally busy roadways were empty. But there were long lines at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, not only due to cancelled flights but because TSA workers couldn't make it in. 

Many schools across the region are closed for the second day in a row. 

"The kids like it, for the parents it gets old," said Atlanta resident Kim Shashy. "I've missed a lot of work. Too much."

Here in Greensboro, we've seen at least eight inches of snow fall so far. We made a treacherous drive from Charlotte here to Greensboro, watching vehicles spin out. The state police has responded to more than 1,500 crashes. 

  • Kris Van Cleave

    Kris Van Cleave was appointed CBS News Transportation Correspondent in September 2015 and is based in Washington, D.C.