Thaw on the way in southern United States

National Weather Service High and Low Temperature Map 1-19-18

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Commuters in the southern United States will wake up to more frigid temperatures and slick roads Friday, but a thaw is expected by the weekend, forecasters say.

Many schools in Atlanta, northeastern Georgia and western North Carolina remained closed Friday after a mid-week storm dumped snow across the region, whipped up winds that snapped power lines and led to at least a dozen deaths.

Sub-freezing temperatures overnight left many roads with ice that is difficult for drivers to detect, but that’s expected to melt soon, said Laura Belanger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Atlanta.

“We’re looking at a warm-up for the southeast and mid-Atlantic with daytime temperatures up in the 40s and 50s (Fahrenheit) and hitting the low 60s in some areas by Saturday,” Belanger said.

Areas as far north as Boston will inch up to the low 40s (Fahrenheit) but dip below freezing at night, she said adding, “This is still winter.”

Through the early morning hours, NWS freeze warnings remained in effect over much of the Deep South as far as Tampa, Florida.

The winter storm sent blasts of cold air as far south as Mississippi, Lousiana, Texas and Oklahoma.

In Houston, 22-year-old Cynthia Chavez said she walked on ice for the first time in her life on Wednesday, and fell on her second step.

“I was, like, coming out of our house and there was a little step and what I thought was water,” Chavez said by phone from Olde Towne Kolaches in Houston where she is a cashier. “Two steps and I was on my butt. At first, I was nervous but then I was like, ah, THIS is ice.”

More than 9 inches (23 cm) of snow have fallen this week in Durham, North Carolina, since Monday, with 7 inches (18 cm) or more in various places across southern Virginia, the NWS said.

In Virginia on Thursday, a six-year-old boy on a sled slid onto a road and was struck and killed by a car, CBS affiliate WDBJ-TV in Roanoke, Virginia, reported.

On Thursday in North Carolina’s Washington County, a 26-year-old man was killed when his vehicle went off a snowy road and overturned in a canal, officials said.

In Oklahoma, two people died on Wednesday in a fire apparently caused by the use of electrical space heaters, media reported.

(Reporting by Rich McKay; additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Bernie Woodall in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Editing by Larry King)

Commuters in U.S. South face tough trek after deadly storm

Snow cover in the U.S. 1-18-18 - National Weather Service

By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) – Commuters in the U.S. South faced frigid temperatures and dangerously slick roads on Thursday after a winter storm, responsible for at least eight deaths, thrashed the region with heavy snow and winds that snapped power lines.

Schools in New Orleans, Charlotte and Atlanta and across the region canceled classes on Thursday as winter weather advisories from the National Weather Service (NWS) remained in effect from eastern Texas to Florida and north into southeast Virginia.

“Motorists are urged to use extreme caution, or avoid travel if possible,” the NWS said in an advisory, warning that freezing temperatures would keep roads icy.

Wind chill advisories were in effect as temperatures will feel like they have fallen below zero Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius) in parts of the Carolinas, Alabama and Virginia.

More than 14,000 households and businesses in North Carolina and Louisiana and in various parts of the South were without power early on Thursday, utility companies said online.

The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana declared states of emergency because of severe conditions that made traveling treacherous.

“We cannot stress it enough for everyone to stay off the roads unless you have no choice,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a statement, adding the storm had caused 1,600 traffic accidents.

More than 9 inches (23 cm) of snow have fallen in Durham, North Carolina since Monday, with 7 inches (18 cm) or more measured at various locations across southern Virginia, the NWS said.

The storm has caused at least eight deaths.

In Austin, Texas, a vehicle plunged more than 30 feet (9 meters) off a frozen overpass on Tuesday, killing a man in his 40s, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said on its Twitter feed.

An 82-year-old woman who suffered from dementia was found dead on Wednesday behind her Houston-area home, likely due to exposure to cold, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said. Another woman died from cold exposure in Memphis, police said on Twitter.

In Georgia, two people were fatally struck by a car that slid on an ice patch near Macon, local media reports said.

A man was killed when he was knocked off an elevated portion of Interstate 10 in New Orleans and an 8-month-old baby died in a car crash in suburban New Orleans, local news reports said.

A woman died in West Virginia in a car crash, local reports said.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Edmund Blair and Bernadette Baum)

Flights canceled, schools closed across snowy U.S. South

Snow falls through a picture frame in the Boston Public Garden during a winter storm in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., January 17, 2018.

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – A bitter winter storm gripped much of the South on Wednesday, prompting schools to close and causing thousands of flight delays and cancellations as snow, ice and record-breaking cold hit the region.

The storm led to a least one death when a vehicle in Austin, Texas, plunged more than 30 feet off a frozen overpass late on Tuesday, killing a man in his 40s, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Service said on its Twitter feed.

Winter weather advisories were in effect from the Northeast to the Mid-Atlantic states and Southeast, as well as over the central Gulf Coast of Texas, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Winter storm warnings were also in effect for portions of the Carolinas, southern Virginia and the New England area.

More than 360 outgoing flights at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport were canceled or delayed on Wednesday, according to Flightaware.com, and another 60-plus were canceled or delayed at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

The governors of Georgia, North Carolina and Louisiana declared states of emergency due to severe winter weather conditions, which caused multiple car accidents during rush-hour traffic, officials said.

NWS meteorologist Dan Petersen said snowfall in central and north Georgia had ended, and the arctic cold front would now bring snow, frigid temperatures and frozen roadways across central North Carolina on Wednesday.

“The rain in central North Carolina will eventually turn into snow later today and is predicted to dump 6 to 8 inches of snow over central North Carolina and about 1 to 3 inches over east North Carolina,” he said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warned at a news briefing that cold temperatures Wednesday night would make travel conditions even more hazardous.

“The snow is pretty, but don’t be fooled,” Cooper said.

In Houston, the nation’s fourth most populous city, most freeways were closed on Wednesday morning after icing over, the city’s Office of Emergency Management said.

“Not a good idea to be out on the roads. Conditions are still unsafe,” the Texas Department of Transportation Houston Division said on its Twitter feed.

New Orleans had record-breaking cold temperatures Wednesday morning with 20 degrees Fahrenheit in the area, beating its previous record 23 degrees set in 1977, according to the NWS. Hattiesburg, Mississippi, also broke temperature records with 12 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday, beating its 14 degrees also set in 1977.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and David Gregorio)

In blizzard’s wake, northeastern U.S. brace for intense cold

A pedestrian walks through blinding snow across the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City.

By Scott Malone and Jonathan Allen

BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Street crews in the U.S. Northeast raced through the night into Friday to clear snow-clogged streets after a powerful blizzard and restore power to homes ahead of a brutal cold spell that has killed more than a dozen people.

From Baltimore to Caribou, Maine, efforts were under way to clear roadways of ice and snow as wind chill temperatures were to plunge during the day, reaching -40 F (-40 C) in some parts after sundown, according to the National Weather Service.

The brutal cold was forecast to reach from New England across to the Midwest and down to the Carolinas, forecasters warned, adding that low-temperature records could be broken across the broad region in the coming days.

“In a lot of New England, the highs will be in the single digits and the teens today, with intense wind chills,” said Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist with private forecasting service Accuweather. The cold will extend down to the mid-Atlantic states, he said.

“It can be very dangerous,” Pydynowski said. “Any kind of exposed skin can freeze in a couple of minutes.”

The cold also raised the risk that road salt would not work to melt ice, possibly leaving highway crews to shift over to sanding roads to improve traction, Massachusetts transportation officials said.

Utility companies across the East worked to repair downed power lines early on Friday as about 31,000 customers remained without electricity, down from almost 80,000 the day before, and issued warnings that temperatures may become dangerously low.

“If the temperature in your home begins to fall, we recommend taking shelter elsewhere until service can be restored,” National Grid power company, which serves Massachusetts, said on Twitter. “You can find warming centers by contacting local authorities.”

People walk in Times Square during a winter storm in Manhattan. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

17 DEATHS

The storm, with winds gusts of more than 70 miles per hour (113 kph), dumped a foot (30 cm) or more of snow throughout the region, including Boston and parts New Jersey and Maine, where heavy snow continued to fall early on Friday.

The wintry weather has been blamed for at least 17 deaths in the past few days, including three in North Carolina traffic accidents and three in Texas because of the cold.

Schools in Boston and Baltimore canceled classes Friday while New York was open and Newark, New Jersey, schools were to open two hours late.

Commuter railways serving New York and Boston’s suburbs were reporting extensive delays, as they worked to repair frozen equipment and clear snow-covered tracks.

The storm on Thursday caused a 3-foot (0.9-metre) tidal surge that flooded the area around Boston’s historic Long Wharf with icy seawater. Firefighters used an inflatable raft to rescue one motorist from a car submerged in water up to its door handles, Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn told reporters.

Communities outside Boston, including Scituate, also saw extensive flooding, with parking lots filled with water damaging unoccupied vehicles.

New York’s John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports resumed flights on Friday after closing in whiteout conditions a day earlier. More than 1,000 U.S. flights had been canceled early on Friday with New York’s three major airports and Boston Logan International Airport seeing the most cancellations.

The storm was powered by a rapid plunge in barometric pressure that some weather forecasters called a bombogenesis, or a “bomb cyclone.” It brought high winds and swift, heavy snowfall.

Nearly 500 members of the National Guard were activated along the East Coast to assist with emergency response, including 200 in New York state, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.

Officials reported traffic accidents throughout the Northeast and the storm’s reach extended to eastern Canada.

(Additonal reporting by Brendan O’Brien; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Bill Trott)

Man charged as authorities says missing North Carolina girl presumed dead

(Reuters) – A man has been arrested and charged in North Carolina in connection with the disappearance of three-year-old Mariah Woods who went missing from her bedroom five days ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and local sheriff said on Saturday.

Earl Kimrey, 32, was taken into custody on Friday in Onslow County, North Carolina, and charged with several crimes including concealing a death and obstruction of justice, the FBI and Onslow County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Kimrey also faces burglary, felony larceny and possession of stolen property charges, the statement said.

The girl is believed to be dead due to evidence gathered during the investigation, the statement said.

“At this time, the location of Mariah is unknown,” the statement said. “The searches will now shift to a recovery process.”

Kimrey, who is being held on a $1 million bond, is the live-in boyfriend of the girl’s mother Kristy Woods, local media reported.

Woods said she put her daughter to bed about 11 p.m. on Sunday, and said her boyfriend saw the girl about an hour later when the child got up and he had told her to go back to bed, WRAL, an NBC affiliate in Raleigh, North Carolina, reported.

The couple contacted the Onslow County sheriff’s office early the next morning to say the girl had disappeared, officials said.

A days-long search ensued with hundreds of police officers, military troops and volunteers searching the rural area around the family’s mobile home in Jacksonville.

(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; editing by Alexander Smith and Stephen Powell)

Millions of Americans await awe-inspiring total solar eclipse

By Steve Gorman and Irene Klotz

SALMON, Idaho/MURPHY, N.C. (Reuters) – Millions of Americans armed with protective glasses are taking positions along a slender ribbon of land cutting diagonally across the United States to marvel at the first total solar eclipse to unfold from coast to coast in nearly a century.

After weeks of anticipation, the sight of the moon’s shadow passing directly in front of the sun, blotting out all but the halo-like solar corona, will draw one of the largest audiences in human history, experts say.

When those watching via social and broadcast media are included, the spectacle will likely smash records.

Some 12 million people live in the 70-mile-wide (113-km-wide), 2,500-mile-long (4,000-km-long) zone where the total eclipse will appear on Monday. Millions of others have traveled to spots along the route to bask in its full glory.

Murphy, North Carolina, in the Smoky Mountains about two hours north of Atlanta, is among hundreds of small towns that are preparing for a huge influx of visitors.

“The weather forecast for Monday is beautiful, probably not a cloud in the sky all day,” said Dave Vanderlaan, 61, a retired landscaper. “We’re busy, but tomorrow anybody in Atlanta who says they want to see total, they’re going to come up to this area, so it could be crazy.”

Millions of Americans armed with protective glasses are taking positions along a slender ribbon of land cutting diagonally across the United States to marvel at the first total solar eclipse to unfold from coast to coast in nearly a century.. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

Millions of Americans armed with protective glasses are taking positions along a slender ribbon of land cutting diagonally across the United States to marvel at the first total solar eclipse to unfold from coast to coast in nearly a century.. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

The phenomenon will first appear at 10:15 a.m. PDT (1715 GMT) near Depoe Bay, Oregon. Some 94 minutes later, at 2:49 p.m. EDT (1849 GMT), totality will take its final bow near Charleston, South Carolina.

The last time such a spectacle unfolded from the Pacific to the Atlantic coast was in 1918. The last total eclipse seen anywhere in the United States took place in 1979.

In Depoe Bay, a town of about 1,500 people, clear skies on Sunday raised hopes that the corona would be visible and not obscured by coastal haze or cloud.

Lisa Black, from Vancouver, Canada, said she and her party planned to have breakfast on the beach and be ready with their glasses.

“And, yeah, it will be cool to be able to look out at the ocean and just have the openness when it goes totally dark,” she said.

For millions of others who can’t get there, a partial eclipse of the sun will appear throughout North America if there is no local cloud cover.

Perhaps never before have so many people had the opportunity to see a total eclipse, said Michael Zeiler, a self-described “eclipse chaser” who on Monday will notch his ninth time seeing “totality.”

Weeks of publicity have fanned excitement, he said, and may have persuaded many families to make last-minute plans for a road trip to the zone.

Zeiler, who runs GreatAmericanEclipse.com, a website devoted to the event, estimates that up to 7.4 million people with travel to the zone to observe the total eclipse, which takes place in the peak vacation month of August.

Many people have trekked to remote national forests and parks of Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming, while others have bought tickets to watch the show en masse in a Carbondale, Illinois, football stadium, a two-hour drive southeast of St. Louis.

In South Carolina, Charleston County’s more than 16,000 hotel rooms are booked, tourism officials say. Police expect up to 100,000 visitors to the area on Monday.

Those who live along the path, which cuts through a few population centers like Kansas City and Nashville, Tennessee, can simply walk out their homes and look skyward.

For all but the couple of minutes of totality, observers must wear specially designed solar-safe sunglasses or filters to avoid severe eye damage. It is never safe to gaze directly at a partial eclipse with the naked eye.

Unlike many other astronomical events, such as comets and meteor showers, that often fail to live up to their hype, a total eclipse is nearly a sure thing, so long as the weather cooperates, experts say.

A predictive map issued on Sunday by Weather Decision Technologies Inc shows clear skies in the West, clouds in Nebraska and northwest Missouri, and partly cloudy conditions farther east.

The sun’s disappearing act is just part of the show. As the black orb of the moon gradually nibbles away at the sun’s face, the heavens dim to a quasi-twilight, and some stars and planets emerge.

Shadows on the ground seem to deepen, sunset-like colors streak the sky at the horizon, the air grows still, temperatures drop and birds cease to chirp as they settle in trees to roost.

The last glimmer of the sun gives way to a momentary sparkle known as the “diamond ring” effect just before the sun slips completely behind the moon, leaving only the aura of its outer atmosphere, or corona, visible in the darkness.

The corona, lasting just two minutes or so during Monday’s eclipse, marks the peak phase of totality and the only stage of the eclipse safe to view with the naked eye.

The overall display as seen at each point along the eclipse path, including the partial phases before and after totality, lasts nearly three hours.

 

(Additional reporting by Jane Ross in Depoe Bay; Writing by Steve Gorman, Frank McGurty and Ian Simpson; Editing by Sandra Maler)

 

Duke University removes contentious Confederate statue after vandalism

The empty plinth where a statue of Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee once stood is flanked by statues of Thomas Jefferson and the poet Sidney Lanier at the entrance to Duke University's Duke Chapel after officials removed the controversial statue early Saturday morning in Durham, North Carolina, U.S., August 19, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Miczek

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – Duke University removed a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the entrance of a chapel on the Durham, North Carolina, campus, officials said on Saturday, days after it was vandalized.

The decision to take down the statue followed discussions among students, faculty, staff and alumni about maintaining safety on campus, university President Vincent E. Price said in a statement.

“I took this course of action to protect Duke Chapel, to ensure the vital safety of students and community members who worship there, and above all to express the deep and abiding values of our university,” Price said.

The prestigious university will preserve the statue of Lee, who led Confederate forces in the American Civil War of 1861-1865, and use it as an educational tool so that students can study “Duke’s complex past,” Price added.

The Confederacy, comprised of 11 Southern states, broke from the Union largely to preserve the institution of slavery.

Symbols of the Confederacy have come into focus since last weekend, when white nationalists, angered at the planned removal of a statue of Lee from a park in Charlottesville, Virginia, engaged in violent protests where a counter-protester was killed.

The Robert E. Lee statue, one of 10 outside Duke Chapel, was vandalized and defaced late on Wednesday night. Campus security discovered the damage early Thursday, according to university officials. The incident was under investigation.

“Wednesday night’s act of vandalism made clear that the turmoil and turbulence of recent months do not stop at Duke’s gates,” Price said.

“We have a responsibility to come together as a community to determine how we can respond to this unrest in a way that demonstrates our firm commitment to justice, not discrimination,” he said.

Duke will form a committee to advise the school on how to properly memorialize historical figures on campus, and to recommend teaching programs, exhibitions and forums to explore its past.

There are more than 1,500 symbols of the Confederacy, including 700 monuments and statues, in public spaces across the United States, the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

The large majority of these were erected long after the Civil War ended in 1865. Many went up early in the 20th century during a backlash among segregationists against the civil rights movement.

More than a half-dozen have been taken down since last week.

 

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

 

Power outage forces thousands to evacuate North Carolina islands

By Gina Cherelus and Jenna Zucker

(Reuters) – Police in North Carolina were issuing citations to vacationers who have yet to leave two Outer Banks islands where a power outage this week led to an evacuation order during the height of the summer vacation season, officials said on Saturday.

The outage was caused by an accident on Thursday that cut a transmission line during construction on a new bridge allowing vehicular traffic to reach Hatteras Island from the mainland. It also affected Ocracoke Island to the south, connected to the mainland only via air or ferry service.

“I’m so upset. Hatteras Island had to evacuate this morning so much for vacation this summer. I really feel bad for my sister’s loss of money,” Twitter user @bridge_please wrote on Saturday.

About 3,700 tourists and nearly 1,400 cars were ferried off Ocracoke as of Saturday, according to the Hyde County website. The evacuation order there went into effect on Thursday.

On Hatteras, in Dare County, officials could not estimate how many people had left by car or boat since the order went into effect there on Saturday morning. About 50,000 people were affected, county spokeswoman Dorothy Hester said.

The Hyde County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday warned that it would issue citations to any visitor who failed to comply, but spokesman Colby Sawyer did not know how many tickets had been written.

“We initially had quite an issue getting the people to leave,” Sawyer said. “A lot of people did not heed that warning and did not evacuate.”

Residents and vendors have been allowed to stay on the island, said Hyde County spokesman Donnie Shumate on Saturday, who said it was uncertain when full service would be restored.

Crews were having trouble inspecting the damaged line, Shumate said. “Until that happens, we can’t even get an estimate on how long it could be,” he said.

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, which provides power to Hatteras, was using generators to provide partial electric service but conservation measures were in effect. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on Thursday for the two islands.

Representatives of the power company or PCL Construction, which is building the new bridge, could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus and Jenna Zucker in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Trump administration drops North Carolina ‘bathroom bill’ lawsuit

FILE PHOTO: A sign protesting a North Carolina law restricting transgender bathroom access. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

(Reuters) – The Trump administration on Friday dropped a lawsuit accusing North Carolina of discriminating against LGBT residents after the state replaced its “bathroom bill”, although a key civil liberties group vowed to keep fighting the new law in court.

In a two-sentence court filing the Justice Department said it had dropped its lawsuit, filed last year by the Obama administration, because the North Carolina legislature had replaced it with a new law called House Bill 142.

The filing marks the first significant move in a complicated legal battle challenging the state’s nondiscrimination laws since the replacement of the original law, known as House Bill 2 or more commonly as the “bathroom bill.”

House Bill 2’s most controversial provision was the requirement that in state-run buildings transgender people use the bathrooms, changing rooms and showers that corresponded to the sex on their birth certificates rather than their gender identity.

A number of businesses and sports leagues boycotted North Carolina because they saw the year-old law as discriminatory against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Civil liberties groups also protested the move.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the law in March of last year. That was followed in May by the Justice Department’s own suit against House Bill 2.

James Esseks, the ACLU’s LGBT Project Director said the new law is flawed because it keeps a ban on cities and counties from creating their own nondiscriminatory ordinaces until 2020 and relegates to the state legislature the power to regulate bathroom access. The legislature has purposefully not taken any action to define access, he said.

House Bill 142 “leaves transgender people in limbo and that’s intentional,” Esseks said. “This does not fix the problem. It creates confusion.”

Esseks said his group planned to amend their lawsuit soon to challenge the new bill.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler and Chizu Nomiyama)

NCAA again weighing North Carolina as host after bathroom law repeal

FILE PHOTO - A bathroom sign welcomes both genders at the Cacao Cinnamon coffee shop in Durham, North Carolina, U.S. on May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake/File Photo

By Colleen Jenkins

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) – The National Collegiate Athletic Association said on Tuesday it will again consider allowing North Carolina to host championship games after the state replaced a law it deemed discriminatory against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

The NCAA had stripped North Carolina of championship events to protest the law, which required transgender people to use bathrooms matching the sex on their birth certificate rather than their gender identity and limited protection against discrimination of LGBT people.

Last week, state legislators in Raleigh passed a new law that repealed the bathroom measure. But they also banned cities from enacting their own anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people until 2020 and permanently blocked local legal protections for transgender people in restrooms.

The NCAA said those restrictions concerned its board of governors, who had preferred a full repeal of the year-old law known as House Bill 2.

A majority of the board “reluctantly” voted to permit the state to be considered for championship games in light of the new measure, the NCAA said.

“This new law has minimally achieved a situation where we believe NCAA championships may be conducted in a nondiscriminatory environment,” the governing body for U.S. college athletics said in a statement.

The announcement came hours after the North Carolina Tar Heels’ men’s basketball team clinched the national title Monday night. Coach Roy Williams had opposed HB 2, which prompted the NCAA to move two rounds of the Division I men’s tournament out of hoops-crazed North Carolina.

Critics of the new law, signed by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper after being approved by the Republican-controlled legislature on Thursday, called the NCAA’s announcement disappointing.

They argue the state is continuing to discriminate against LGBT people with a measure they have dubbed “HB2.0.”

“After drawing a line in the sand and calling for repeal of HB 2, the NCAA simply let North Carolina lawmakers off the hook,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, another major collegiate athletic league, also has restored North Carolina’s eligibility to host championship sporting events.

Cooper and top Republican lawmakers, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House of Representatives Speaker Tim Moore, said in statements they were pleased by the NCAA’s move.

After a year of boycotts by corporations, conventions and concerts, elected officials said the revised measure addressed discrimination concerns while still protecting safety and privacy in government restrooms.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)