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AFTERNOON UPDATE: Road conditions improve slightly
Re-freezing tonight could make Wednesday's commute tricky
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AFTERNOON UPDATE: Road conditions have begun improving slightly as the temperature rose above freezing today, but that doesn't necessarily translate to an easy ride to work or elsewhere Wednesday morning.

Overnight freezing could turn slush into ice, making travel treacherous for a little longer.
Shane Daniel, handling dispatch for Hall County's road maintenance department, expressed some optimism Tuesday about road-clearing efforts.

"I'm hoping we're in the home stretch and can knock this out," he said, as crews began turning their attention to secondary roads for the first time since the snowstorm hammered North Georgia overnight Sunday.

Much of Tuesday, however, was a mess, especially as more people ventured out of subdivisions. Trucks and 4-wheel-drive vehicles were having the most success, while smaller cars struggled to gain traction in the packed snow and ice.

NOON UPDATE: Roads around the downtown Gainesville square have been closed, said Catiel Felts, the city's director of communication.

Spring Street from the Hall County parking deck to the federal courthouse has been closed along with a portion of Green Street from Washington Street to Spring Street.

"Sheets of ice are falling off the federal courthouse and certainly we don't want to create any kind of hazardous driving - any more hazardous driving conditions than we already have," Felts said.

MORNING UPDATE: With frigid overnight temperatures further stiffening ice and snow Hall County's roads, officials are advising residents not to venture out unless absolutely necessary.

"There is still quite a bit of ice out there," said Shane Daniel with Hall's road maintenance department. "Stay indoors as much as possible.

"If you have to go out, use extreme caution and go slowly - leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you."

Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation's Gainesville-based District 1, said essentially the same thing.

"There are extremely hazardous conditions out there," she said.

DOT crews have been working in 12-hour shifts since Sunday and have made some headway on interstates 85 and 985, keeping one lane in each direction somewhat clear.

"We need people to stay in that one lane," Pope said. "When they pass, they are blowing snow in the (cleared lane) and plus, if you attempt to pass, you're going to get into a hazardous situation."

The DOT has been able to work on multilane state routes but not two-lane state routes. So, portions of Friendship Road and Atlanta Highway, for example, have not been touched by road crews.

Pope said clearing efforts also have been hampered somewhat by equipment breakdowns and damage from accidents.

The strange thing about this storm is traveling south through Atlanta is more dangerous than heading north.
The hardest-hit sections of the metro Atlanta are on Interstate 285 south of Atlanta, said DOT spokeswoman Jill Goldberg.

"There are areas with 1-plus inches of ice," she said.
Meanwhile, a freezing rain advisory remains in effect for North Georgia until 9 a.m., according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

Conditions won't improve much beyond that today, with the high temperature expected to hit 34. Also, mostly cloudy skies are in the outlook.

Sunny weather is expected Wednesday through Saturday, with temperatures finally reaching the 40s on Friday.


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