Snow and ice blankets Ohio Valley, closing schools and making roads hazardous

Eds: UPDATES with roof collapse, Ill. outages, snow amounts, Ky. traffic deaths.

AP Photo PX102, KYLOC101, MOSPL102, MOSPL101, OHJL102


Associated Press Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Snow and ice spread across the Ohio Valley on Tuesday, closing schools, knocking out power for thousands of homes and businesses and collapsing a bakery roof.

Roads were littered with cars that had spun out and first lady Laura Bush canceled appearances.

Freezing rain created a layer of ice on top of 4 inches of newly fallen snow in Kentucky. In southern Illinois, ice was an inch thick at Pinckneyville and Carterville had 8 inches of ice-covered snow and sleet. The Pittsburgh area had up to 5 inches of snow by early afternoon and an additional 3 inches was possible, the National Weather Service said.

The weather system was moving along a line stretching to the northeast, and the weather service posted winter storm warnings along a band from western Tennessee into New England.

Schools were closed in parts of Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The National Park Service canceled a 199th birthday event at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville because of the treacherous driving conditions.

First Lady Laura Bush canceled a planned trip to central Kentucky to attend the Lincoln event and to visit a school damaged by last week's severe storms, said Bush spokeswoman Sally McDonough. She also called off a visit to towns struck by last week's deadly tornadoes in Arkansas, where rain turning to sleet was expected across much of the state.

Heavy snow and ice collapsed the roof of a bakery at Herrin, Ill., though no injuries were reported, authorities said. And in nearby Carterville, the storm knocked out WSIL-TV's main transmitter.

Utilities reported more than 16,000 homes and businesses blacked out in Kentucky, with about 8,000 in Missouri and thousands more in southern Illinois.

"As the ice continues to weigh down on tree limbs, those limbs are falling down on power lines and taking customers out faster than we can restore them," said Erica Abbett, a spokeswoman in Illinois for the utility Ameren.

Highways near Louisville improved Tuesday morning after a night in which dozens of cars were abandoned on freeways. A section of the Western Kentucky Parkway was closed during the night by trees that fell under the weight of ice, state police said.

Two people were killed when a car slid off an icy highway in western Kentucky, state police said.

Indiana State Police closed a five-mile stretch of icy southbound Interstate 65 south of Indianapolis for part of the morning because of wrecks, and Illinois police reported dozens of accidents.

Tuesday's high school basketball playoffs for western Pennsylvania were postponed because of 5 to 8 inches of snow forecast for the region.