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Slick roads make driving a challenge
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Pedro Jarquim and his father Constantino Jarquim make their way along Green Street this morning. they were walking to Georgia Chair to check the building. - photo by Tom Reed

School closings

Storm sends Deal inauguration indoors

Winter weather tips, contacts

Storm shuts down much of Georgia

Send us your photos. If the snow falls Monday, send your snow pictures to news@gainesvilletimes.com. We'll create an online photo gallery of the best pictures.

National Weather Service forecast

 Advisories: A winter storm warning has been issued by the National Weather Service; a travel advisory has been issued by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The National Weather Service has issued a freezing rain advisory through 1 a.m. Tuesday for much of North and Central Georgia, including Hall County.

Snow-covered roads throughout Hall County are making traveling treacherous today, officials said this morning.

"The roads are slick everywhere," said David Kimbrell, Hall County's fire services chief.

Road crews, including DOT and local governments, "are clearing them as fast as they can, but the snow is re-covering what they put down," Kimbrell said. "They are fighting a losing battle."

The good news is "we've had very few calls ... people are staying at home," he said.

Col. Jeff Strickland with the Hall County Sheriff's Office said the department worked 27 accidents between 7 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. today, including one with slight injuries.

Between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. today, there have been 92 calls for service ranging from domestic calls to stranded motorists. There has only been one accident, Strickland said.

Snow in Northeast Georgia is expected to continue throughout the day, becoming mixed with sleet and, possibly freezing rain. A winter weather warning remains in effect for North Georgia, including Hall County, until 7 p.m. today.

Temperatures are expected to remain in the 20s all day, with winds gusts up to 20 mph.

Gainesville Fire Chief Jon Canada said his department also has responded to just a few medical calls and car accidents.

"The roads are rough," he said. "Even though (crews) are scraping them, there is a lot of snow base and ice on them."

Kimbrell said he remains concerned about the snow changing to sleet and freezing rain, which can result in down power lines and trees and widespread outages.

Power company officials said this afternoon they have had only a handful of power outages in the Hall County area.

Early this morning, Jackson EMC had 14 customers without power in the Braselton area.

They "now have power and things are quiet," said Bonnie Jones, spokeswoman for Jefferson-based Jackson Electric Membership Corp.

Freezing rain is the main culprit for outages, and Northeast Georgia has experienced mainly snow and sleet since the storm began about midnight.

"We've been fortunate as a state," said Carol Boatright, Georgia Power spokeswoman.

Statewide, 7,200 outages have been reported, she added.

But there could have been tens of thousands had there been widespread icing across Georgia.

"We haven't had freezing rain yet (in the Hall County area) and we're bracing for that," Jones said.

Boatright said Georgia Power also remains on guard.

"We hope the forecast is wrong — a quarter-inch of ice tonight and more winter weather later in the week," she said.

DOT crews have so far focused mainly on clearing interstates 85 and 285, at least keeping one lane in each direction open, Parham said.

People are traveling at speeds of 35 mph and some are passing, but traveling is still not encouraged.

"There is still black ice. ... And we're still having to go back and blade the roads," Parham said.

Crews plan on working 12-hour shifts, with the DOT's priority eventually shifting to four-lane state routes and then two-lane state routes.

"This is maximum effort type of effort — no furlough days," Parham said. "Daylight will be better -- people will be able to see the road conditions."

Shane Daniel, who is handling dispatch in Hall County roads maintenance this morning,  said crews are clearing away snow off main arteries, but "we're now dealing with ice.

The crews' application of calcium chloride is effective in battling the ice, but thawed surfaces are quickly refreezing. And temperatures are expected to stay below freezing all day.

"It'll be a constant battle until it warms up," Daniel said.

He offered some good news, though.

"Our crews should be able to get a handle on (road conditions) today and will be fighting it tonight," Daniel said. "Tomorrow is going to look a lot better."

Hall County, like the DOT, will first address the main arteries, such as Old Cornelia Highway and parts of Atlanta Highway, before they hit the secondary roads, he said.

"I came up Candler Highway (earlier) and it's bad," Daniel said.

Statewide, DOT crews have been out in full force working to keep roads clear since 6 p.m. Sunday.

"We have been preparing for this event since the middle of last week and our maintenance crews are working as hard as they can to clear the lanes," said Commissioner Vance C. Smith, Jr.

The first 12-hour shift ended at 6 a.m., involving more than 900 crews, 578 pieces of equipment and more than 2,018 tons of salt and gravel material.

"Our biggest concern is people being stranded on the roadways, so again, we need people to stay off the roadways unless there is an emergency," said State Maintenance Engineer Eric Pitts. "The interstate is a very dangerous place for people to walk around so please stay off if you can."

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