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Storm slams the South

ATLANTA (Reuters) — A deadly winter storm potentially more destructive than the one that paralyzed Atlanta just two weeks ago gripped the southern states on Wednesday, crippling travel, knocking out power to more than 330,000 customers and encasing magnolia trees and palmetto fronds in ice.

The weather was blamed for at least 10 deaths throughout the region, including three who were killed when an ambulance transporting a patient skidded off an icy road in Carlsbad, Texas, about 240 miles southwest of Dallas, the Texas Department of Public Safety said on Wednesday.

Road conditions quickly deteriorated in South Carolina and North Carolina on Wednesday afternoon, creating a nightmarish commute for drivers in a hurry to get home as the snowfall got heavier and the ice thickened.

Traffic in many places came to a standstill, vehicles skidded off slippery roads and emergency officials urged drivers not to abandon their vehicles, a scenario reminiscent of the messy commute during the storm in Atlanta last month.

Sam Bellezza, a high school teacher who lives in Raleigh, was headed to Home Depot for supplies. It started snowing while he was there and the drive home, which normally takes 10 minutes, took more than two hours, he said.

Some people left their cars behind and were walking along the snowy banks, Bellezza said.

“All these cars were wrecking and falling into a ditch,” he said. “It was all bumper cars and people yelling and screaming at one another.”

Fatal road accidents also were reported in Mississippi and South Carolina.

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