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Another ice storm causes havoc across the South

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Ice hangs from foliage on a residential street on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially “catastrophic” storm is yet to come. From Texas to the Carolinas and the South’s business hub in Atlanta, roads were slick with ice, tens of thousands were without power, and a wintry mix fell in many areas. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

Ice hangs from foliage on a residential street on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially “catastrophic” storm is yet to come. From Texas to the Carolinas and the South’s business hub in Atlanta, roads were slick with ice, tens of thousands were without power, and a wintry mix fell in many areas. (AP Photo/David Tulis)

Ice and snow cover Interstate 26, early Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Columbia, S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley again declared a state of emergency as emergency officials worried that as much as an inch of ice accumulating on trees and power lines Wednesday into Thursday could knock out powers to thousands, especially in the Midlands. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Shmetrice Moore, a nurse at an Emory hospital, scrapes snow and ice off her windshield as she and others are released early from their shift before a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Johns Creek, Ga. From Texas to the Carolinas and the South’s business hub in Atlanta, roads were slick with ice, tens of thousands were without power, and a wintry mix fell in many areas. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Rosemary Bennett walks home Tuesday evening February 11, 2014 after a visit to a local store in Greenville MS. Bennett says she was enjoying the rare snow and planned on making a snow angle once she arrived home. (AP Photo/The Delta Democrat-Times, Bill Johnson)

Motorists drive on a road covered in snow and ice on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Johns Creek, Ga. Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially “catastrophic” storm is yet to come. From Texas to the Carolinas and the South’s business hub in Atlanta, roads were slick with ice, tens of thousands were without power, and a wintry mix fell in many areas. (AP Photo/John Amis)

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ATLANTA (AP) — The second wintry storm in two weeks to hit the Deep South encrusted highways, trees and power lines in ice Wednesday, knocking out electricity to more than 350,000 homes and businesses.

But it didn’t wreak the highway havoc in Atlanta that the previous storm did — largely because people learned their lesson.

At least nine traffic deaths were blamed on the treacherous weather, and more than 3,100 airline flights nationwide were canceled.

As residents across the South heeded forecasters’ unusually dire warnings and hunkered down at home against the onslaught of snow and freezing rain, the storm pushed northward along the Interstate 95 corridor, threatening to bring more than a foot of snow Thursday to the already sick-of-winter mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Forecasters warned of a potentially “catastrophic” storm across the South with more than an inch of ice possible in some places. As the day wore on, power outages climbed by the hour and the dreary weather came in waves.

Ice combined with wind gusts up to 30 mph in Georgia snapped tree limbs and power lines. More than 200,000 homes and businesses lost power in Georgia, 130,000 in South Carolina and nearly 30,000 in Louisiana. Some people could be in the dark for days.

In Atlanta, which was caught unprepared by the last storm, streets and highways were largely deserted this time. Before the first drop of sleet even fell, area schools announced they would be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Many businesses in the corporate capital of the South shut down, too.

The scene was markedly different from the one Jan. 28, when thousands of children were stranded all night in schools by less than 3 inches of snow and countless people abandoned their cars after getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours and hours.

“I think they’ve learned the lesson from the last time, which is just stay home,” Derrick Fuqua said as he let his dog run around in the sleet in Decatur, Ga.

However, heavy afternoon traffic was reported in Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.

Across the region, those who had power passed the time watching movies or surfing the Internet. Others took short walks to the few stores that were open.

“Even in the snow, you still have to do your business,” said Matt Altmix, who walked his Great Dane, Stella, in Atlanta. “I think some folks would even say they were a little trigger-happy to go ahead and cancel schools yesterday, as well as do all the preparation they did for the preparation for this storm. But it’s justified.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who was widely criticized over his handling of the last storm, sounded an upbeat note this time.

“Thanks to the people of Georgia. You have shown your character,” he said.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory urged people to charge their cellphones and find batteries for radios and flashlights because the storm could bring nearly a foot of snow in places such as Charlotte.

“Stay smart. Don’t put your stupid hat on at this point in time. Protect yourself. Protect your family. Protect your neighbors,” McCrory said.

For the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, the heavy weather was the latest in an unending drumbeat of storms that have depleted cities’ salt supplies and caused school systems to run out of snow days.

The nation’s capital could get up to 8 inches of snow. New York City could

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