Efforts to locate, rescue stranded motorists from Alabama roads aided by state helicopters

Aerial photo from Airlink 3340 helicopter shows the traffic gridlock on Interstate 65 South near Lakeshore Drive, Wednesday, January 29, 2014. (

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - State helicopters are searching the Birmingham area for people stranded along icy Alabama roadways.

A spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Public Safety says three of its helicopters are involved in the effort. The first helicopter lifted off at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.

A band of severe sleet and ice hit farther north than initially forecast, leaving motorists stranded on Jefferson and Shelby County roadways Tuesday night. Police transported some motorists to shelters, while others abandoned their cars and walked.

The National Weather Service says temperatures in Birmingham are hovering around 16 degrees, which means icy road conditions will remain.