More Storms Forecast for Southeast

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Raleigh, NC Jan. 27 (AP by Scott Mooneyham)--Residents used to the sloppy cleanup that comes after the wind and rain of hurricanes weren't prepared for the kind of paralysis brought by this week's record snowfall.

``It's far worse than any hurricane we've had,'' said Moore County Manager David McNeill.

The storm swept up the East Coast from South Carolina, dropping heavy snow that snarled roads and closed schools and government offices. The weather was blamed for deaths stemming from traffic accidents, exposure and heart attacks while shoveling snow.

More bad weather may be on the way. Forecasters said it will likely be cold and wet in the Southeast this weekend as a storm system arrives from the Plains. As much as 10 inches of snow were expected in Oklahoma by tonight from the storm.

Parts of North Carolina are still reeling from the snow after being battered last fall by Hurricane Floyd. While most places were almost back to normal on Wednesday, Raleigh, which got 2 feet, and Richmond, Va., which got 11 inches, were still digging out.

The Raleigh-Durham International Airport remained closed early today. Officials said they hoped to open the airport by noon, but warned that several airlines had already canceled afternoon flights. Crews cleared about 20 inches of snow off the airport's longest runway only to discover 3 inches of ice.

Raleigh Mayor Paul Coble described his city as still ``snowed under'' by the surprise storm.

``The times we've been through hurricanes have helped us prepare,'' said Coble, marooned at home by a broken foot and slick roads. ``All this is a white hurricane.''

Hotel rooms were at a premium and supplies were flying off shelves throughout the Carolinas and Georgia, where more than 113,000 customers were still without power early today.

In Georgia, the prospect of facing a few nights in the frigid darkness had people looking for hotel rooms on Super Bowl weekend.

``I've had several calls from people inquiring if we have rooms large enough for their whole family,'' said Julie Ferguson, a clerk at the Comfort Suites in Duluth.

In Virginia, transportation crews hoped to have every road in the state plowed at least once by tonight. Department spokesman Chuck Armstrong said all primary roads and interstates are in good shape, but many secondary roads are still covered.

Copyright (c) 2000 The Associated Press