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Melt is on, but ice may remain in some areas

POSTED: February 14, 2014 7:36 a.m.

With temperatures hitting upper 40s and rain on the way, the ground may turn from white to wet. But area residents who venture out early Friday might take extra care.

Overnight sub-freezing temperatures are expected to refreeze water still on roadways, left over from today's melting from the sun and warmer temperatures.

The winter storm that has battered communities across Georgia this week ended earlier today. The Hall County area was hit particularly by snow and was largely spared the power outages that afflicted many residents farther south in Georgia.

According to the National Weather Service, Gainesville received 4 to 5.5 inches, some of the highest amounts in Northeast Georgia.

Early Thursday, the Georgia Department of Transportation urged residents to stay off roads until at least mid-afternoon when temperatures were predicted to rise above freezing.

Sunny skies also helped speed up the melting.

The DOT had planned to spend the day clearing roadways of moisture to prevent refreezing. Many roads were slushy even as sunshine prevailed and the mercury rose.

“We’ll be out looking for any trouble spots and we’ll continue blading,” spokesman Rick Parham said.

He advised motorists to allow for “plenty of leeway when driving.”

Secondary and subdivision streets could “still be a problem,” said Capt. Scott Cagle, spokesman for Hall County Fire Services, after a Thursday morning weather briefing. “I’ve been telling people to give us one more day.”

Emergency responders have had a “low-call volume” through this week’s storm because people have been staying at home and off the roads, Cagle said.

All county agencies responded to 2,794 calls between midnight Monday and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday — 80 of those wrecks with no serious injuries, he added.

Even as conditions improve, Cagle cautioned residents to be careful as they go outside and play, as people can fall on ice or hurt themselves sledding.

Electric outages were kept to a minimum during the storm, as Jackson Electric Membership Corp. released contractors it brought in to help restore power. They were to move to other parts of the state that were harder hit.

Thursday afternoon, Georgia Power crews were working outages in Mount Airy and Cleveland, affecting nearly 200 people.

At one point, the Georgia National Guard had kept its armory at 153 Alta Vista Road in Gainesville open as an emergency shelter. But no one ended up seeking shelter, said 1st Lt. Brian McKenna.

Don Carter State Park off North Browning Bridge Road in North Hall is now gearing up for normal business as a recreation area.

It had served as a “staging area” for first-responders from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and Georgia Forestry Commission, said Matt Owens, the park’s assistant manager.

“We are actively going into the weekend mode,” he said. “We are starting to get calls about the campground, so ... we’re quickly returning to normal.”


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