Complete coverage of the winter storm:
- Officials: Stay alert even as roads improve slightly
- Residents thankful for few places that are open
- Government agencies prioritize roads to be cleared
- Schools close again, taking things ‘day by day’
- VIEW: Photos taken by The Times' photographers
- VIEW: Photos submitted by The Times' readers
Road conditions began improving slightly Tuesday, as the mercury crept above the freezing mark, but that won’t necessarily translate to an easy ride to work or elsewhere this morning.
Overnight freezing could turn slush into ice, making travel treacherous for a little longer.
Much of Tuesday was a mess, especially as more people ventured out of subdivisions, perhaps feeling a bit of cabin fever.
Trucks and four-wheel drive vehicles were having the most success, while smaller cars struggled to gain traction in the packed snow and ice.
At one point, roads around the downtown Gainesville square were closed.
“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,” said Catiel Felts, the city’s director of communication.
Georgia Department of Transportation crews have worked in 12-hour shifts since Sunday and have made headway on interstates 85 and 985, keeping one lane in each direction somewhat clear as of Tuesday.
“The roads are passable. Some roads are in better shape than others,” said Rick Parham, spokesman for Gainesville-based District 1. “First thing in the morning, though, people are going to have to be super cautious.”
Area residents heading south toward Atlanta need to guard against ice, which has given motorists fits. The DOT has had to close parts of Interstate 285, as well as ramps and bridges.
Parham said people can still travel, but they need to realize “it’s not just you on the road — it’s the driver in front of you and what he’s doing.”
Area law enforcement worked a handful of accidents Tuesday, as people are generally heeding warnings about driving, officials said. Also, many businesses, including retail stores, closed along with school systems.
One big concern about this weather system, which produced 6-8 inches of snow in many places, was that freezing rain would bring more troubles — and that hasn’t materialized for Northeast Georgia.
Freezing rain leads to icing of trees and power lines, setting up the potential for outages and property damage.
On Tuesday afternoon, Georgia Power was reporting only 97 customers without electricity and those were mainly in Toccoa. Statewide, the number was 1,400, down from more than 7,000 on Monday.
“We’re looking pretty good with (power) restorations,” spokeswoman Konswello Monroe said.
Georgia Power still has some concerns about the storm’s after-effects.
“Icing and thawing weakens tree roots and then trees can come down,” Monroe said. “We’ll have to monitor (that situation) and send out crews where needed.”
Sunny skies are expected to prevail through Saturday, but chilly weather also will linger, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.
High temperatures are expected to stay below or near freezing until Friday, when the high should reach 41.
Saturday figures to be a meltfest, with the mercury hitting 48. Also, snow that had been expected to return Sunday has left the forecast, replaced by a chance for rain.