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Ice stays light and hazards are few in Hall County
Slick bridges only major impact of winter storm
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Traffic backed up Friday morning on westbound Dawsonville Highway after an accident caused by slippery conditions blocked one lane. - photo by Tom Reed

Northeast Georgia dodged another winter bullet Friday as few major problems were reported from ice and freezing rain.

Icy conditions Friday morning caused wrecks on several area bridges in Hall County, according to Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell. He said bridges over Clarks Bridge Road, Dawsonville Highway and Thompson Bridge Road all were the scenes of wrecks. Clarks Bridge was shut down for a time until a wreck was cleared.

Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said sleeting in Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties kept road crews busy early on battling precipitation.

By afternoon, reports of ice had just been on bridges. By early evening, Pope said DOT crews were standing down with “Jack Frost gone.”

Temperatures that started below freezing stayed there for much of the day, but precipitation remained light and scattered. Only two-tenths of an inch was recorded at the National Weather Service recording station at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville.

And any ice that did form will melt today when temperatures are expected to reach the mid-50s, part of a warming trend that will bring 60-degree days by next week.

Despite reports of ice in some areas, power companies experienced 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 experienced in the company’s service territory by noon Friday.

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

Neither of the companies’ outages were storm-related.

Though power outages caused only minimal problems, school closings created a few challenges for busy parents.

Merrianne Dyer, Gainesville superintendent said it’s not uncommon for counties to communicate and announce closings together.

“Forsyth, Hall and Gainesville City, we worked together to make our decision,” she said. “All of us were right there on the line and we waited on the prediction to see where the line between freezing rain and rain would be.”

Hall County and Gainesville schools closed for the day, as did University of North Georgia and Brenau University campuses.

All Hall County sporting events were postponed as well, including the county’s wrestling and swim meets.

Barbara Wade woke up at 5:30 a.m. Friday to follow the weather. By 6 a.m., she learned that her two sons would be out of school for the day.

“My oldest son started singing ‘no school, no school,’” Wade said, laughing. “So we just had to get out of the house for a little bit.”

Wade and her children decided to visit the Gainesville branch of the Hall County Library System. Her sons worked on personal projects in the teen center while she went upstairs to look for a something to read.

Some ambitious students decided to brave the freezing weather and meet at the library to work on assignments.

Mary Beth Poole, a pre-nursing student at the University of North Georgia, sat at a table with her chemistry books and notes open. She worked on a few problems while she waited for her lab partner to arrive.

While some students might have been glad to get an unexpected day off, Poole said she didn’t want to get behind in her studies. The only thing that stood between her and her study date was a frozen windshield.

“That made it a little bit harder to drive,” Poole said. “My window kept freezing while I was on my way over here. Fortunately everyone was driving pretty slow.”

Devidyal Givens, also a student at UNG, said having her 6- and 16-year-old at home from school made studying for her homework assignment next to impossible. Fortunately, her husband is a teacher and also had the day off.

After driving to her school and finding the parking lot empty, she decided to go to the library and work on her assignment.

Though some of the roads had been salted, she said the commute from Oakwood to Gainesville didn’t give her any problems.

“Now I’ve got a homework assignment due at midnight and no idea how to do it,” Givens said.

Times reporters Shannan Finke, Savannah King and Lee Johnson contributed to this report.

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