Icy Patches Cause Slick Roadways Across North Georgia

Updated:

ATLANTA - Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz says drivers should use extra caution due to slick roadways.

"Areas that don't dry will freeze solid overnight ... so I expect patches of ice on area roads after midnight and continuing through Sunday morning," said Nitz.

Snow covered the ground in the north Georgia mountains Friday night and continued to accumulate Saturday morning, with some areas getting as much as 5 inches of snow.

Thousands of Georgians were without power Saturday morning, primarily in Rabun and Pickens Counties. Georgia Power and Electric Membership Cooperatives worked to restore service.

Authorities are urging people traveling throughout north Georgia to use caution on the roadways and to avoid driving until conditions improve.

"We're expecting everyone to stay home, at least we're hoping they do," said Sgt. Russell Walker of the Blairsville Police Department.

The same system that impacted Georgia also wreaked havoc across the country.

In North Carolina, Interstate 26 near Asheville and Interstate 40 near Black Mountain were shut down Friday night after snow and icy roads caused multiple wrecks.

In Western Kentucky, shoppers at Murray Home & Auto store snatched up every available sled in anticipation of a heavy snow, said store manager Chris Burgess. Others grabbed shovels, kerosene heaters and chain saws, mindful of another winter storm a year ago that caused widespread power outages in the region.

"They're trying to be prepared this time," Burgess said.

The Nashville area saw up to 3 inches of snow by late Friday afternoon, and I-40 traffic crawled toward Nashville International Airport for miles because of an accident.

Snowfall was subsiding late Friday afternoon in Memphis after an estimated 3 inches had fallen. Most flights at Memphis International Airport were canceled, and Graceland stopped giving tours of the Elvis Presley home at midmorning.

Memphis officials worried because temperatures were forecast to remain below freezing overnight, posing a threat of icy highways and falling tree limbs.

General contractor Tom Baldwin, 59, said he cut loose his crew at a downtown Nashville building at noon to give them time to get home safely.

"I want to tell people to have some common sense out there," he said. "Only because you have big four-wheel-drive doesn't make you stop any quicker."

The steady snowfall didn't keep Jason Martin from delivering beer to Lonnie's Western Room in Nashville's Printer's Alley.

"When it snows, everyone goes out and buys milk and eggs -- and beer," joked Martin, 37. "We're like the Pony Express."

The Texas Department of Transportation closed I-40 east and west of Amarillo on Friday but later reopened it. Downed power lines and icy, dangerous road conditions also temporarily closed a 50-mile stretch of I-44 southwest of Oklahoma City and parts of I-40 in far western Oklahoma and eastern New Mexico on Thursday.

The storm was good for business at the Days Inn and Suites in Guymon, Okla., where stranded travelers waited for road crews to clear U.S. Highway 54 of ice and snow, employee Rocky Bhagavan said. Sixteen of the hotel's 35 rooms were occupied at the motel in the Oklahoma Panhandle, he said -- twice as many as usual.

"Most of the travelers decided to leave this morning. As soon as they got to the Texas border they had to come back," Bhagavan said.

Heide Brandes, spokeswoman for the Salvation Army in Oklahoma City, said the organization's men's shelter has been full since the slow-moving storm moved into the area Thursday. She said some of the 90 men in the shelter are homeless and sought relief when temperatures dropped to the mid-20s.

Flights were canceled Friday morning at airports in Oklahoma City and Little Rock, Ark.

Arkansas State Police warned people who were driving to work on Friday to be prepared to be stranded. Spokesman Bill Sadler encouraged motorists to bring blankets, water and snacks and to make plans for an overnight stay.


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