Cars slipped and slid throughout Northeast Georgia on Wednesday as some drivers ventured out on icy roads, but no major injuries were reported.
Today’s forecast calls for highs in the mid-30s, again giving the chance for some melting before temperatures dip to the mid-20s tonight, according to the National Weather Service.
Tatiana Ayala’s car hit a patch of ice Wednesday afternoon on Candler Road and slid into a ditch and rolled onto its roof.
“We’re both fine,” Ayala said of herself and young son. “Just a little cut to my finger.”
Ayala’s husband, Fausto, arrived at the scene to take his wife and child home after they declined treatment from Hall County Fire Services.
Spokesman Scott Cagle said the fire department had received 48 calls for motor vehicle accidents of a total 510 calls countywide between midnight and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Cagle said Hall County public safety agencies had managed the impact of the storm better than neighboring counties, but he cautioned motorists that side streets could remain treacherous through the afternoon today as freezing temperatures overnight Wednesday would almost certainly create black ice conditions.
Deputy Chad Mann said the Hall County Sheriff’s Office was monitoring road conditions throughout the day, and he also cautioned motorists to be aware of the potential for black ice and other hazardous conditions today.
“A lot of the secondary roads are the ones that are still giving us issues right now,” Mann said. “Some of these roads are going to start to melt, and they will lull you into a false sense of comfort. Don’t drive unless you have to, and let’s just wait until everything thaws out.”
Wednesday night, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced all interstates and state routes in Northeast Georgia were open for use except the Ga. 180 spur in Union County and the northern third of Ga. 348/Richard Russell Scenic Parkway in White and Union counties, both still closed.
As a result, the DOT said it was diverting many of its crews from the region to help clear roads in metro Atlanta, which remained clogged with ice, jack-knifed trucks and abandoned vehicles.
Cpl. Kevin Holbrook, spokesman for the Gainesville Police Department, said reports of accidents and calls for service had dropped off by Wednesday morning as conditions began to improve.
“Once we got through the major rush hour (Tuesday), things slowed down quite a bit,” Holbrook said. “People are staying home and heeding the warnings. We’re very fortunate not to have the issues that Atlanta has had.”
One major accident was reported Wednesday morning when a passenger vehicle skidded on ice and became stuck on the railroad tracks along White Sulphur Road near its intersection with Sargent Road. An Amtrak train struck the car, but the occupant was able to escape uninjured prior to the impact, Holbrook said.
Holbrook said only one accident involving a police vehicle had been reported during the height of the storm Tuesday. That incident occurred when a car “careened out of control” and struck a police vehicle working another accident scene along Palmer Drive near Queen City Parkway, according to Holbrook. No injuries were reported.
Gainesville Fire Chief Jerome Yarbrough said it was business as usual Wednesday as engines were equipped with snow chains and ready to meet all calls for service.
Main thoroughfares in the city were mostly clear and dry by early Wednesday afternoon, Yarbrough said, but he added that vacation time had been limited and extra personnel were on call if needed throughout the day.
“We’re still taking the necessary precautions,” Yarbrough said. “You call, we’ll be there.”
Gainesville Public Works Director David Dockery said city maintenance crews planned to spread salt, sand and gravel on icy roadways until 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Four trucks were available to handle the workload, and dump trucks fitted with snowplows also were ready to go if needed.
The DOT also worked throughout the region clearing icy bridges and other hazardous spots.
Though highs may not climb out of the 30s today, the forecast for Friday includes temperatures in the lower 50s.