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Snow was light in Hall, heavier in mountains, but cold could keep ice around awhile

Hard freeze overnight may keep some roads icy into Sunday

POSTED: January 7, 2017 1:01 p.m.
ERIN O. SMITH/The Times

A light snow covers the ground and mailboxes in the Lights Ferry Landing subdivision Saturday morning in Flowery Branch.

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Hall County residents awoke Saturday to an overnight snowfall that was quite a bit less than the 3 to 4 inches predicted the day before.

While areas to the north received an ample snowfall and metro Atlanta was more affected by ice, Gainesville and Hall received just a bit of each, in most areas a layer of icy slush covered by a dusting of snow.

Roads were mostly clear by late morning Saturday and officials reported no road closings or problems, though some secondary roads still had icy patches.

So why did the snow fail to show? Meteorologist Ryan Willis with the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City says the temperatures didn’t drop as low as expected here.

"Warm layers of air roughly 1,000 feet above the surface of the North Georgia and Metro Atlanta area caused the freezing rain and sleet to fall instead of snow," Willis said.

He said the original forecast was for those warm layers to be overcome during the evening and overnight, but that didn't happen. He said that in places in North Georgia where the warm layer cooled, there were increased amounts of snowfall, up to 6 inches in the mountains.

"Up north had much colder air that could cool the warm layers of air," he said.

Willis said the Weather Service predicts no further winter weather in the next seven days, though temperatures will drop below freezing overnight Saturday and again Sunday into Monday.  

Temperatures were still below freezing by noon Saturday and aren’t expected to rise past 32 degrees, which will keep most of the snow and ice in place for awhile. Overnight temperatures will fall into the mid-teens, refreezing anything that melts and keeping roads potentially icy.

Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Katie Strickland said there were no significant road closures in the area other than Richard B. Russell Scenic Highway (Ga. 348) in Union and Rabun counties.

“Hall County has some slick spots but our crews are still out spreading materials,” she said. “We did not get the expected amounts of snow at midnight last night. Mostly what we see now is 5-6 inches of snow up in White, Lumpkin mountain areas. Everything is passable, just slow moving.”

The National Weather Service recording station at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville recorded about a half-inch of precipitation overnight.

Many events and businesses were closed Saturday or scheduled to open later.

Farther south, the metro Atlanta area got more ice than snow, creating traffic problems overnight on Ga. 400 and other main arteries. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted police as saying authorities were handling some vehicle crashes on Interstate 75 northwest of Atlanta on Friday night. No injuries were reported.

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines on Friday announced 350 flights canceled ahead of the storm.

Staff writer Alex Popp and Associated Press reports contributed this story.



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