Cold weather returns to the South; snow possible

ATLANTA (AP) — Cold weather has been making a comeback in the South this weekend, after what's been a very mild winter so far.

The National Weather Service said north Georgia was in for windy and cold conditions Saturday with temperatures in the 20s. Snow showers were possible in the mountains. And a freeze warning was issued for south Georgia overnight.

The state Department of Transportation sent crews to far-northeast Georgia to clear snow from some state routes, where less than half an inch had accumulated.

Flurries were reported as far south as the northern areas of metro Atlanta as a cold front crossed the Southeast. Wind chills were forecast in single-digits for northern parts of the state Sunday morning.

In Florida, churches and shelters were offering people a warm place to stay as temperatures took a dive Saturday. A freeze warning is in effect for much of the Tampa Bay area, Orlando and Tallahassee, among other cities.

The cold snap brought freezing temperatures to much of Tennessee on Saturday, with snow flurries in Nashville and some accumulation expected in the tri-cities area. The weather service was predicting one to three inches of snow on the northern Cumberland Plateau with two to six inches in the higher elevations of the Great Smoky Mountains.

In eastern Kentucky on Saturday night, forecasters were predicting wind chills in the single digits, falling to near zero by dawn. Snow showers were expected to continue throughout the day with two to three inches of accumulation possible.

Farther north, in places more accustomed to wintry weather, snowstorms in Ohio on Saturday prompted multiple highway closures and driving advisories and led to dozens of crashes.

Westbound lanes of Interstate 76 in northeast Ohio were closed for hours after a series of crashes involving more than two dozen vehicles, but local police said there were no serious injuries, WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported.

The State Highway Patrol said whiteout conditions in parts of northern Ohio prompted officials to close part of the Ohio Turnpike in the Akron area, near its intersection with Interstate 77. Staff Lt. Shawn Lee said about 30 crashes were reported along the toll road by midafternoon.

Winds nearing 40 mph had blown water from Lake Erie onto Interstate 90, icing the road and causing at least one accident, according to The Plain Dealer newspaper.

The winter blast through the South could be brief. The Weather Service says northern Georgia should warm into the 40s on Sunday and temperatures in south Georgia could rise into the mid-50s.

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