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Snow and ice shut down Northeast Georgia

Storm remnants, cold weather here for several days

POSTED: January 10, 2011 10:42 p.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

A snow-covered car sits Monday on the side of Shirley Road as snow and sleet pound North Hall.

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UPDATE: A freezing rain advisory has been issued until 9 a.m. Tuesday for Hall County.

Winter struck a heavy blow on Georgia Monday, with the aftereffects - mainly snow-packed and icy roads - lingering today and possibly longer.

Snow blasted across North Georgia, starting about midnight Sunday, leaving behind up to 8 inches of snow in some areas, especially higher elevations.

And, to make conditions potentially worse, the National Weather Service in Peachtree City issued a freezing rain advisory to last until 1 this morning.

"There has been very little improvement on the roads," said Col. Jeff Strickland, spokesman for the Hall County Sheriff's Office, Monday afternoon. "(Today) could be a lot worse than (Monday), as we'll be dealing with a lot more ice."

He urged residents to stay off the roads today unless absolutely necessary.

The sheriff's office worked only one wreck between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday, but Strickland believes that was mainly because people were staying off the roads, opting instead for snowball fights and sledding races down neighborhood hills.

Contrast that with the Christmas Day snow, when more people got behind the wheel. The sheriff's office ended up working more than 100 wrecks in 12 hours.

"Roads are still treacherous," Strickland said.

Monday's storm resulted in widespread closings of schools, colleges and businesses through today.

Area road officials said Monday that crews were working nonstop to clear roads, activity that is likely to continue through today and possibly beyond.

"We'll be out there looking around and dealing with potential problems," said Rick Parham, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation's Gainesville-based District 1.

The DOT's first target was interstates, and crews spent Monday trying to ensure one lane was open in each direction.

"This is maximum effort type of effort - no furlough days," Parham said. "Daylight will be better - people will be able to see the road conditions."

The first 12-hour shift ended at 6 a.m., involving more than 900 crews, 578 pieces of equipment and more than 2,018 tons of salt and gravel material.

Shane Daniel of Hall County's road maintenance department said crews are clearing away snow off main arteries, but "we're now dealing with ice."

The crews' application of calcium chloride is effective in battling the ice, but thawed surfaces are quickly refreezing.

"It'll be a constant battle until it warms up," Daniel said.

He offered some good news, though.

"Our crews should be able to get a handle on (road conditions) today and will be fighting it (Monday night)," Daniel said. "(Today) is going to look a lot better."

Crews had some problems clearing roads because people who pulled off roads because of ice and snow were abandoning their cars and blocking the lane.

"And then we can't work the road," Daniel said.

Michael Miles, spokesman with the U.S. Postal Service in Atlanta, said no mail was delivered in Gainesville on Monday because trucks were not able to get from the processing plants to the local centers.

"That was our primary problem," he said. "We've first got to get the mail in and out of our processing plants and to the delivery areas. So we had problems getting the mail to the delivery units and in some cases we also had problems getting out to make deliveries."

He was uncertain Monday afternoon about the possibility of making deliveries today.

"We're hoping that conditions will be better, but obviously we don't know what's going to happen with the weather," he said. "Hopefully we won't see a repeat of (Monday)."

As bad as the weather was, power company officials said Monday afternoon they had dealt with a handful of power outages in the Hall County area.

Freezing rain is the main culprit for outages, and Northeast Georgia experienced mainly snow and sleet since the storm began.

"We've been fortunate as a state," said Carol Boatright, Georgia Power spokeswoman.

Statewide, 7,200 outages have been reported, she said Monday afternoon.

The utility was preparing for the possibility of tens of thousands of outages across Georgia.

She said Georgia Power would remain on guard through early today, however.

"We hope the forecast is wrong - a quarter-inch of ice (Monday night) and more winter weather later in the week," she said.

As for the rest of the work week, expect conditions to improve somewhat.

Skies are expected to begin clearing today and to be mostly sunny through Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

High temperatures, however, are expected to remain in the 30s, although above freezing.

The next chance for snow? Sunday night.

The Weather Service is calling for possible rain and snow, with a low of 31.

Staff writer Tricia L. Nadolny contributed to this report.



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