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Some roads still icy throughout area

Schools, colleges closed as roads remain treacherous after overnight refreezing

POSTED: January 29, 2014 9:23 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Sergio Torres spreads ice-melt across the top level of the parking deck at Regions Bank during Tuesday afternoon's snow shower. The Legacy Landscaping and Lawn employee spread plenty of the ice-melting pellets on the top- level ramped area that led to the lower covered levels of the parking deck.

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The snow that blanketed North Georgia on Tuesday may not melt much today.

Slush left on roadways turned to ice as temperatures dipped into the teens, and that is expected to happen again tonight.

Jessica Fieux, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said temperatures in Gainesville may creep just above freezing this afternoon to 33 degrees, but not until about 3 p.m. and just for a brief time.

“You may see toward the end of the day some melting, but it will refreeze Wednesday night,” Fieux said.

Colleges and local school systems, including Gainesville and Hall County, decided early Tuesday evening to cancel today’s classes. That followed a day of early closures for local schools and governments as snow began falling steadily in the early afternoon.

Road conditions during the day Tuesday were harshest south of Hall County, but some icing was reported in Northeast Georgia, especially on bridges. Maintenance crews from Gainesville, Hall County and the Georgia Department of Transportation planned to work around the clock clearing those areas.

Hall County Emergency Services has reported numerous iced-over roads and minor accidents but no serious injuries. Fire Marshal Scott Cagle said the county responded to 410 calls between 1 and 5:30 p.m., 80 of them traffic accidents, including overturned vehicles.

Gainesville officials said gravel trucks would run throughout the night and into this morning to clear roads, beginning with main thoroughfares and spreading out from there to cover residential streets.

The Department of Transportation reported widespread icing conditions on roads throughout North Georgia, including Interstate 985 and Ga. 365. Highways in White, Lumpkin, Dawson, Habersham, Rabun, Towns and Union counties also were iced over.

Cpl. Kevin Holbrook, spokesman for the Gainesville Police Department, said accident units were deployed early in the day as officials anticipated the worst-case scenario.

“We plan for these types of situations,” Holbrook said, adding that preparations for the storm began this past weekend.

The department worked with fleet maintenance crews to ensure police vehicles were equipped with snow tires so they could respond to calls for service in the hardest-hit parts of the city.

Holbrook said police had not received a significant increase in calls for service by the early evening, but added that they were continuing to work with the Department of Transportation to monitor road conditions and accident reports.

“It appears that people are utilizing caution,” Holbrook said. “Anyone that does need any assistance can call Hall County dispatch.”

Residents can also report icy road conditions by calling dispatch at 770-536-8812.

The snowfall was enjoyable for some Tuesday afternoon.

Travis and Ashley Thompson of Flowery Branch had the pleasant task of getting their marriage license from the Hall County Courthouse. The trip was made all the more memorable by playing in the snow with their two young sons Rayben, 4, and Clayton, 3.

Ashley Thompson said the family recently moved from Florida so it was the first time the boys had been in snow.

“We think it’s great,” Ashley Thompson said. “We’re making snowballs.”

Three Brenau University theater majors also shared the family’s joy over the winter weather.

After grabbing a hot cup of coffee the students made their way to their last class of the day. Several schools, including Brenau, closed early because of the weather.

“It’s awesome,” Chelsea Brown said laughing.

“They canceled our school,” Peyton Owen said.

“Now we have time to work on things, write our papers,” Hollie Rivers said.

While students might have appreciated the unexpected extension in deadlines others like business owner James Tucker of Flowery Branch said it was business as usual.

Tucker carefully walked down the snow-covered sidewalk, take-out lunch in hand before making his way back to work at Tucker Wellness Center.

Tucker said he didn’t expect the snow to have much of an impact on the rest of his work day and would be surprised if many businesses decided to close because of the weather.

Times staff writers Savannah King, Joshua Silavent and Shannon Casas contributed to this report.



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