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Icy conditions close roads, make driving dangerous
Officials: Lots of accidents, but no serious injuries so far
A pick-up truck struggles up a hill Friday morning on Southers Road in Hall County

List of latest closings and cancelations

DOT database of road closings

National Weather Service forecast

Today: Partly sunny, with a high near 27. West wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Tonight: Partly cloudy, with a low around 18. West wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 29. Northwest wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph.

Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 17. Northwest wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 32. Northwest wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 15 mph.

Sunday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 20.

Monday: Sunny, with a high near 40. 

Icy roads have created perilous driving conditions on many Hall County roads, and officials are advising motorists to use extreme caution if they have to get out.

No serious injuries have been reported thus far in a number of minor traffic accidents brought on by black ice, officials said.

The most problematic area has the Sardis area off Dawsonville Highway, especially Lyncliff Drive, where multiple cars were stranded, Hall County Sheriff's Col. Strickland said. Officials were advising those in that area to use Jay Mountain Road as an alternate.

A fire engine and ambulance were temporarily stuck responding to a chimney fire on Springdale Forest Road, Emergency Management Director David Kimbrell said.

Hall County 911 Center Director Marty Nix said between 6:45 p.m. Thursday and 6:45 a.m. today, operators took 348 calls, a 38 percent increase over average call volume for that period.

"It's been a lot of fender-benders and a lot of people sliding off the road," Nix said. "It's beginning to settle down now, but it's still above average."

Most roads were open, though a handful have been closed long enough for crews to put down salt and rock mixtures.

Kimbrell said some roads, particularly those in the shade, could remain icy for some time. While the sun is out, the temperatures are in the teens, and are not forecast to rise above freezing until Monday.

"We need sun and some wind to dry things out," he said.

Kimbrell said those who take to the road should "drive extremely slow, especially in curves and shady areas, and be prepared to brake well ahead of time."

Overnight, six cars were stranded on Monroe Drive because of icy conditions, Kimbrell said. Monroe Drive is the only road that Hall County officials have indicated is still closed. Martin Drive was also closed for a time overnight because of ice but has been reopened.

County officials warn that many of the area's roads are icy, but say that county Public Works crews and the state Department of Transportation have been addressing major road problems as they arose.

In Clayton County, a 27-car accident on the ramp from I-285 to I-85 has snarled traffic around daybreak.

Schools across most of Northeast Georgia are closed today, and many government offices are closed or will open later in the morning.

Icy conditions could continue all day. Today's high temperature will be 27 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Saturday morning's low will be 18. Temperatures aren't forecast to be above freezing until Monday, when the temperature will hit 40.

The DOT is urging motorists to avoid driving until at least noon Friday if at all possible.

The DOT says no drivers should get out before the sun comes up so they'll be able to see black ice. Drivers should use extreme caution and drive at half speeds, leaving plenty of room between vehicles.

The snow that fell in Northeast Georgia on Thursday made for some picturesque winter scenes, but raised concerns about icy roads this morning for commuters.

For that reason, schools in Gainesville and Hall County are closed today, a day after students were sent home early to get ahead of the snow.

"Temperatures are falling and secondary roads in the northern part of the county are currently treacherous," Superintendent Will Schofield said in an e-mail Thursday evening.

The afternoon flurries carried into Thursday evening, but light accumulation kept traffic problems to a minimum. Hall County public safety officials said many motorists heeded warnings to stay off the roads Thursday night as temperatures plunged and some roads grew slick with black ice.

On Thursday evening, a few minor accidents were reported, but much of Gainesville was a "ghost town," with very little vehicular traffic, Kimbrell said.

"Hopefully folks will stay in (this) morning," Kimbrell said.

Hall County Sheriff's Col. Jeff Strickland said there were two weather-related accidents involving overturned cars Thursday night - one on Chestatee Road and another on Skitts Mountain Road - but no injuries. Salt and stone later were applied to the affected roads.

Another accident involving a car on its side on Ga. 60 two miles north of Fieldale Farms also was reported shortly before 9 p.m. There were no injuries.

Georgia DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope said at 10 p.m. that there are "spotty reports of icing throughout the region." DOT crews put salt on bridges and all multilane state routes, including interstates.

The DOT urges people to check road conditions and forecasts before heading out. Motorists can dial 511 or visit Georgia Navigator for updates.

"Stay at home, off the roads, if you can," Pope said.

Residents can report dangerous road conditions to the Street Maintenance Division at 770-532-0379.

Gainesville and Hall County students were among many in area systems who went home early Thursday to avoid weather problems.

While students were glad to see school let out early, some parents felt differently.
Jennifer King, who has a 9-year-old daughter, Abbie Seabolt, at Riverbend Elementary, said she took the day off to celebrate her daughter's birthday and to care for her instead of working at her job in Dahlonega.

"It's good for them, bad for parents because you can't just walk away from work," King said. "But I'm glad I knew yesterday. Especially for single moms, it's definitely harder to get away from work."

Abbie brought a friend home from school with her said she has big plans for this afternoon.

"We're going to go home and do homework," she said. "If it snows, I'm going to make a snow man."

Staff writers Ashley Fielding, Jeff Gill, Stephen Gurr and Jessica Jordan contributed to this story.