Page last updated at 18:30 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Southern US hit by rare snowfall


Southern US hit by rare snowfall

Snow has blanketed parts of the US states of Louisiana and Mississippi, causing disruption and leaving thousands without power.

Up to eight inches of snow were reported in some areas, blocking roads and forcing offices to close.

In Mississippi some schools were shut, and forecasters warned of treacherous driving conditions.

The north-east of the country was also hit by winter weather, with a state of emergency in place in two states.

The snow in the Louisiana city of New Orleans was its first in more than four years.

It caused considerable excitement, with office workers taking to the streets to watch and photograph the snow.


At a park in New Orleans' Uptown neighbourhood, Sara Echaniz, 41, took photos and dodged snowballs thrown by her son, three-year-old Sam.

"He didn't believe it was snow until it started sticking to the ground," Ms Ecahniz said.

Eight inches of snow fell in Amite, about 75 miles (121 km) north-west of New Orleans, a meteorologist said. In Mississippi, up to five inches of snow fell in some southern parts of the state.

About 10,000 power cuts were reported by Cleco Corp, one of Louisiana's largest power providers, and some flights at Louis Armstrong International Airport outside New Orleans were delayed.

Snow is rare in southern Louisiana, although more northern parts of the state see it about once a year.

State of emergency

Meanwhile in the north-east of the US an ice storm knocked out power to more than half a million homes and businesses in New England and upstate New York.


Aerial footage of the ice storm

Governors in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire declared a state of emergency. Schools were closed and travel disrupted across the region.

"I urge all New Hampshire citizens to take sensible precautions and heed all warnings from public officials," said New Hampshire Governor John Lynch.

Fire departments in New Hampshire were responding to reports of transformer explosions and downed power lines and trees.

Public Service Company of New Hampshire said an unprecedented 230,000 customers - nearly half of the homes and businesses it serves - were without power at one point.

The outages had far surpassed the infamous ice storm of 1998, when some residents spent more than a week without power, utility officials said.

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