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Winter storm: Snow is gone, but now comes the cold
Frigid arctic air pushes into the South
Mandi Patterson watches the snow fall while taking a break between customers Saturday morning at Precision Hair Kutters. Large flakes began falling in the Hall County area this morning around 10 a.m. driving folks from their homes to the stores for winter provisions.
The snow is gone, but here comes the cold.

As the snowflakes tapered off and most of the accumulation melted away by late afternoon, a cold air front was expecting to bring bone-chilling temperatures to the area. At 9 a.m., the temperature in Gainesville was 17 degrees.

Though the breezy conditions made it seem even colder Saturday night, it actually likely prevented melting snow from becoming an icy mess.

Mark McKinnon of the Georgia Department of Communications said there were "very, very few" reports of any icy patches at all Saturday night and this morning across Northeast Georgia. He said the few reports very insignificant and of the type that normally may happen when the temperature drops.

McKinnon credited the wind with drying off the wet roads before they could freeze over.

"We had a very, very uneventful night," he said, adding that DOT workers called in for storm duty have gone home and the department has resumed normal operations. An operator at Hall County dispatch said there had no problems overnight on local streets, either.

It seemed uneventful for power companies, too. Bonnie Jones, Jackson EMC director of public relations and communications, said they had no weather-related outages.
But just because the precipitation is over doesn't mean the cold is going away anytime soon. According to National Weather Service forecaster Stephen Konarik, expect the below-average cold to continue through the early part of the week.

With the temperature hovering at 17 in Gainesville at 9 a.m., Konarik said the temperature won't rise above freezing until noon today on the way to a high only in the mid- to upper-30s. Tonight is expected to be a cold repeat of Saturday night, with temperatures in the upper teens across Hall County. Konarik said it won't be quite as windy tonight.

Monday's high should be near 40, and Monday night there is a 20 percent chance of rain and snow just after midnight he said, as lows drop down to freezing again.

Saturday's weather brought no major accidents on the snow-free and lightly-used Hall County roads. Statewide, there was one weather-related traffic fatality in Troup County and a 12-car pileup in south Fulton County, Georgia Emergency Managment Agency Director of Operations Charlie Dawson said.

Hall County roads should be clear of black ice by mid-morning Sunday, with a forecast of sunshine and temperatures rising above freezing by noon.

On Saturday, it was snow day, part two, at Roper Park.

Mary Rose Patterson, 18, and six other neighborhood teens spent the afternoon at the small park with the big hill off Thompson Bridge Road, sledding on plastic discs and building a diminutive snowman with what flakes they could pile up. By late afternoon, the snow, which arrived in flurries around 10 a.m. Saturday and accumulated to more than an inch at its high point, was melting away fast.

"I love it," Patterson said. "I wish it would keep coming. It's really pretty."

Outside the Publix supermarket on Thompson Bridge Road, Heidi Rigsby wasn't sharing the concerns of some over the winter weather.

"We're not scared," Rigsby said, accompanied by Carlos Alvarado, who, at age 31, saw his first snowfall this week, and celebrated by making a snow angel. "It's doing exactly what they said it would do. Everything's fine."

Rigsby bought just a few items at the grocery store, which was jammed with shoppers stocking up.

"Everybody panics here so easily," Rigsby, of Virginia, said. "Just get what you normally would get. Everything's going to be OK."

Public safety officials reported light traffic on the snow-free roads Saturday and no major accidents.

At Chase's Do It Best Hardware, the rush tapered off when it became apparent the steady snow wasn't sticking to roads. But the store sold out of its stock of 100 plastic sleds between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, store owner Rocky Pirkle said.

At the Thompson Bridge Road Ingles supermarket, business easily outpaced the busiest of days, including those prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas, store manager Pam Philliber said.

"We'd beat both of them today," she said.

Thursday morning's winter weather "toyed with" customers, she said. "It kind of opened their eyes for this one," she said.

Times staffer Edie Rogers contributed to this report. 


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