Motorists stranded in rare Alabama snowstorm
By The Associated Press
Published: Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 8:42 p.m.
CULLMAN, Ala. — A traffic jam that extended at least eight miles on Interstate 65 in Alabama — forcing hundreds of motorists to camp out in vehicles overnight after a rare Southern snowfall — finally cleared Friday as rising temperatures melted remnants of the freeze.
Some questioned whether road officials were caught flat-footed by a winter storm that was predicted for days. The state highway department denied it was unprepared.
Hundreds of people spent a cold night trapped on I-65 north, about 50 miles north of Birmingham, because a winter storm dumped snow around the Southeast and caused at least one death in Mississippi. As much as 4 inches fell in Alabama on Tuesday, quickly coating roads in northern counties, particularly higher elevations
Motorists got stuck on I-65 in Cullman County when the snow caused a series of wrecks and vehicles lost traction on a hilly stretch called Lacon Mountain.
One of those trapped was lawyer Bob Bentley, who said he spent nearly 14 hours in his Toyota Prius before he could begin moving again at 4 a.m.
“I played a lot of ‘Words with Friends.' I found some old food under the seat, some old Christmas pretzels. I listened to all the NPR programs twice,” he said.
Bentley said people just turned off their vehicles and sat there because there wasn't anywhere to go. He said people were getting out of their vehicles, building snowmen and walking to the edge of the woods to relieve themselves.
Cindy Parker, who works at a Shell gas station just off I-65 in Cullman, said a steady stream of frustrated motorists stopped at the store to buy food, get directions and vent.
“Weather like this is so unusual for us. They don't realize that the hills and bridges between Birmingham and Huntsville will get so icy,” she said.
Skies were sunny and temperatures in the 40s by midday Friday. The highway was flowing freely without backups, but abandoned and wrecked vehicles littered the roadsides, along with melting snowmen.
More freezing temperatures are forecast next week in Birmingham. City officials said they would open the city auditorium for the homeless.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Hearing to determine fate of sergeant accused of killing 2 deaf Iraqi youths
- Precautions lack year since fatal blast at plant
- Mo. mayor steps down over anti-Semitic comments
- Mumps outbreak among Ohio’s largest
- Senator pitches gasoline tax increase
- Images best of readied D-Day ships
- Obama surveys mudslide devastation
- 69% back birth control mandate
- Little toxicity data exists for tainted W.Va. water
- Shale oil, gas drilling boom wins favor with labor unions, thwarting environmentalists
- IRS awards millions in bonuses to its people who don’t pay taxes