PARKERS CROSSROADS, Tenn — James A. Jones saw enough cars stranded along the icy highway to know it was time to pull over as a winter storm blasted parts of Tennessee and Kentucky with sleet, freezing rain, and snow Friday.
Jones counted 25 cars stuck by the road as he drove from Memphis to McMinnville, Tenn., about 280 miles away. He decided not to risk it any longer and took a break in the West Tennessee town of Parkers Crossroads.
The winter storm, which began with an icy mix before turning to snow, forced schools and businesses to close in Tennessee and Kentucky. Hardest hit were western sections of both states.
Ice coated broad swaths of the South, causing traffic snarls. Memphis police responded to more than 100 crashes. In Mississippi, a tractor-trailer overturned after crashing on icy Interstate 55, causing traffic delays.
Winter storm warnings were posted for the western halves of Tennessee and Kentucky as unseasonably warm weather in recent days gave way to winter conditions.
In western Kentucky, roads were covered with layers of ice. On top of that was about three tenths of an inch of sleet, said National Weather Service meteorologist Robin Smith.
Winds up to 35 miles per hour further complicated driving. By early afternoon, much of western Kentucky had 1 to 3 inches of snow. Parts of western Tennessee had 3 to 4 inches.
Many school districts in Kentucky and Tennessee called off classes Friday. Several colleges and universities in both states also canceled classes, including at Vanderbilt University, Murray State University, and Western Kentucky University.
Some flights were canceled at the Memphis airport.
Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, closed state offices Friday in western and central Tennessee due to the winter weather.