When Winter Storm Leon rolled across the southeast U.S., dropping ice and two and a half inches of snow in some places, many residents of perennially snowy northern states were confused by meteorologists calling it a major storm. But after grid-locked highways and thousands of stranded commuters, it's hard to call it anything other than a significant event.

The situation was so dire in South Carolina, the Army wrote, that the National Guard was mobilized to help motorists who had skidded off the road and even to get rolled-over tractor trailers back on the ground. The South Carolina guard deployed across the state in Humvees and an all-purpose, 10-ton vehicle called a wrecker that was used to right a capsized 18-wheeler.

Georgia had to call on its contingent of National Guardsmen as well when the storm caused such gridlock around Atlanta that commuters abandoned their cars on the road for the night, some even seeking refuge inside convenience stores on the side of the highway, NBC News reported.

Tim Dougherty is a regular commuter in the Atlanta area, but after a day on the roads, he barely made it out of the city when the storm hit.

"What took me 30 minutes [Tuesday] morning took me 26 hours to get back," he said. reports that at least a dozen deaths have been attributed to the storm's effects.