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Few problems reported from icy roads, bridges

Temperatures to reach 50 on Saturday

POSTED: January 25, 2013 4:43 p.m.
Tom Reed/The Times

Traffic is stopped as Clarks Bridge is blocked due to a sheet of ice that caused a minor accident as freezing rain passed through the area this morning.

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4:45 p.m. UPDATE: Outside of a series of accidents caused by icy condition this morning, today’s winter storm turned out to be very meek. Much of the precipitation has moved out of the area, though some light freezing rain remains possible into the evening.

Crews from the Georgia Department of Transportation continue to check for trouble spots, especially along bridges and overpasses, said spokesman Rick Parham.

Fire Chief David Kimbrell said roads across the county are in good shape. He said there have been no traffic problems since the icy bridges were treated earlier today.

Meanwhile, the DOT is turning much of its attention to the more northern counties – White, Rabun, Union and Towns – where temperatures are forecast to be much colder tonight.

Officials with Georgia Power and Jackson EMC report no problems.

Tomorrow should be a much better day. After some early morning fog, the sun will return and temperatures will warm into the 50s.

2:30 p.m. UPDATE: Hall County school have canceled all athletic events schedule for tonight, as National Weather Service radar shows light rain and freezing rain moving into the county.

The weather service had predicted a high of 35 and said precipitation this afternoon would fall as rain. But at 2:30, the temperature in Gainesville was 26 degrees.

Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said there were no new major problems reported across the region. Crews are out now dealing with ice on some roads and bridges.

Law enforcement officials across the region have worked numerous weather-related traffic accidents.

12:15 p.m. UPDATE: Despite reports of ice in some areas of Northeast Georgia under a winter storm warning today, power companies are experiencing very few outages throughout the region.

According to Bonnie Jones, director of public relations for Jackson EMC, one service outage in Gwinnett County was the only disruption they had experienced in the company’s service territory as of 11:30 a.m. today.

“Everything’s pretty quiet right now, which is good, and we hope it stays that way, but it could change at any time,” Jones said.

Georgia Power also said there were “not a lot of problems” as of the same time today, with only 26 customers experiencing outages in the company’s entire Northeast region.

“Of course, a tree limb or tree could fall and change things, but problems so far have been limited,” said John Kraft, spokesman for Georgia Power.

10:25 a.m. UPDATE: Icy conditions have caused wrecks on several area bridges, according to David Kimbrell, Hall County fire chief. Kimbrell said the bridges over Clarks Bridge Road, Dawsonville Hwy. and Thompson Bridge Road had all had wrecks on them, and Clarks Bridge is temporarily shut down until they can get that wreck cleared.

Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, sleeting in Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties had been going on for about an hour, and that’s where road crews first started battling precipitation.

She said right now, reports of ice have just been on bridges, but that if it stays this cold it could begin freezing on the roads.

In the last hour, DOT has gotten reports of isolated icing in Habersham and Hall Counties, all on bridges. They’re responding to those reports now.

10:10 a.m. UPDATE: Clarks Bridge Road is closed at the bridge, according to message posted on Twitter by Hall County Fire Services. Fire officials say there have been multiple accidents. Driver should avoid the area.

PREVIOUS STORY: Some areas of North Georgia are under a winter storm warning today as chances for sleet and freezing rain threaten the region.

The warning is in effect until 6 p.m. today from a line running through Dawson County to the southern edge of Hall northward, according to National Weather Service Forecaster Nate Mayes.

“Temperatures are going to be a little cooler in that area, so that’s why we’re extending the warning until a little later on in the evening,” Mayes said.

The chance of precipitation is 60 percent, with the chance for freezing rain possible in the morning, then becoming more likely in the afternoon. High temperatures are forecast to only reach the mid-30s.

“We’re expecting ice accumulations up to 0.25 inches in Dawson, Lumpkin, Hall and White counties,”
Mayes said.

When Gulf moisture collides with the cold front currently permeating much of North Georgia, Mayes explained, the opportunities for hazardous wintry conditions increase.

“There’s a cold front in the north part of the state now, and we expect a jet stream to move it a little farther south. We’re expecting a low

pressure system to bring in some Gulf moisture with it as it moves across the Southeast, and that moisturizer will overrun the cold front,” Mayes said. “With temperatures below freezing, that’s when we have the chance for freezing rain and icy conditions.”

Though sleet is technically a “frozen drop of rain” and falls as ice pellets, freezing rain remains liquid as it falls and freezes on contact with surfaces that are at 32 degrees or colder. The ice that results is what Mayes said is “more dangerous than snow.”

“We can’t see ice as well, and bridges and overpasses can ice over real quick in conditions like these,” Mayes said.

In the event of icy conditions, DOT workers are prepared to work a 12-hour shift from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m., with skeleton crews in counties such as Lumpkin, Towns, Union, Rabun and White from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation’s District 1, which covers Northeast Georgia.

“The projection is not for snow but for ice, and that’s worse,” Pope said. “Ice is harder to remove than snow and is much more of a hazard, and ice, by nature, is hard to see and will sneak up on you. We’re all ready to go, but as the forecast changes, so will our plans.”

Pope advised one of the easiest ways for drivers to protect themselves from dangerous situations on the roads is to slow down.

“It doesn’t take much speed to cause an accident on the ice,” she said. “Check weather conditions before you leave your house, and remember all those defensive driving tips: Use lower gears, slow down. But the ultimate safety tip is to not be on the roads if you don’t have to.”

Any ice that does occur is expected to melt by Saturday, when temperatures will climb near 50.

Outside of a series of accidents caused by icy condition this morning, today’s winter storm turned out to be very meek. Much of the precipitation has moved out of the area, though some light freezing rain remains possible into the evening.

 

Crews from the Georgia Department of Transportation continue to check for trouble spots, especially along bridges and overpasses, said spokesman Rick Parham.

 

Fire Chief David Kimbrell said roads across the county are in good shape. He said there have been no traffic problems since the icy bridges were treated earlier today.

 

Meanwhile, the DOT is turning much of its attention to the more northern counties – White, Rabun, Union and Towns – where temperatures are forecast to be much colder tonight.

 

Officials with Georgia Power and Jackson EMC report no problems.

 

Tomorrow should be a much better day. After some early morning fog, the sun will return and temperatures will warm into the 50s.



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