NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Christmas Eve snow storm that blanketed parts of the Midwest was headed southeast, expected to bring rare Christmas Day snowfall to Kentucky, Tennessee and even Georgia.
After dumping 9 inches of snow in Iowa by Friday morning, the storm was likely to dip south into Tennessee and Georgia on Saturday, then perhaps move north Sunday. Winter weather advisories were in effect from Kansas east to Kentucky and from Minnesota south to Arkansas on Friday.
The National Weather Service said that for the first Christmas in 17 years, Nashville and Atlanta could get more than just a dusting of snow.
Karla Winfrey returned to Nashville from her current home in Atlanta to do some last minute running around Thursday for her mother who's cooking Christmas dinner.
"I wanted to make sure I was here before it started accumulating," said Winfrey, a multimedia journalist. "I've only missed one Christmas in my entire life from being home, so it was important for me to be here to get a taste of Tennessee for Christmas."
In the Atlanta suburb of Decatur, Vincenzo Tortorici said the prospect of snow evoked the memory of childhood Christmas visits to his relatives in Ohio.
"Snow was like frozen white icing on the cake of a magical time of my childhood," he said. "I'm glad the weather might cooperate to give my own son a white Christmas this year."
The snow made traveling tough Friday in northeastern Iowa, where the bulk of the storm hovered.
Scott and Lori Whiting left Chicago for Colorado Springs, Colo., with their nine children Thursday evening. By morning, they had only reached Des Moines, a trip that normally takes about four hours, Lori Whiting said.
"The cars are really sliding around up there," Lori Whiting said. "It's kind of slushy. Some parts it's packed, and you don't think it's going to be slick and all of a sudden your car is fishtailing."
Scott Whiting got into a fender bender at a Des Moines truck stop. Still, the family was in good spirits and the children were singing carols.
Lori Whiting said they hoped to make it to Colorado Springs for Christmas Eve.
"Depending on the number of potty breaks, you understand," she said.
Many people traveled Thursday in hope of beating the foul weather.
Eric and Tatiana Chodkowski, of Boston, drove with their children, ages 2 and 4, to see relatives in New York. They deemed the roads congested but manageable Thursday, and most people found the nation's airports to be the same way.
Planes took off into windy but accommodating skies at New York's LaGuardia Airport as Steve Kent prepared to fly to Denver for a family ski trip, scoffing at the puny lines.
"I don't find it that difficult," he said. "I think Thanksgiving is harder."
Travelers could see airport screeners taking a closer look at empty insulated beverage containers like thermoses because air carriers were alerted about a potential terror tactic involving them, an administration official said.
The official, who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive security matters, stressed that there is no intelligence about an active terror plot. The Homeland Security Department regularly alerts law enforcement about evolving terror tactics.
The Air Transport Association expects 44.3 million people on U.S. flights between Dec. 16 and Jan. 5 — up 3 percent over the same period a year ago but still below pre-recession travel volume. The average ticket price was $421, up by 5 percent.
The AAA predicted overall travel to rise about 3 percent this year, with more than 92 million people planning to go more than 50 miles sometime between now and Jan. 2. More than 90 percent said they would be driving.
In Kentucky, Transportation Cabinet spokeswoman Andrea Clifford said road crews would be salting and plowing parts of the state where snow falls Friday night. Crews had applied brine to 900 miles of roads in Louisville in advance of the snow.
Louisville last had snowfall on Christmas in 2002, when a half-inch fell.
Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Karen Hawkins in Chicago; Warren Levinson and Verena Dobnik in New York City; David Goodman in Detroit; Eileen Sullivan and Samantha Bomkamp in Washington; Michelle Price in Phoenix; Dylan Lovan in Louisville, Leonard Pallats in Atlanta and Mark Pratt in Boston.
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