Wintry mix causes icy conditions across North Georgia

by: WSBTV.com<\/a> web staff Updated:

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ATLANTA - Wintry weather across north Georgia caused icy roads and treacherous conditions throughout the day Friday.

The Georgia Department of Transportation warned drivers of icy conditions in Forsyth and Hall counties. A crash on Interstate 985 north of Spout Springs Road blocked a left lane, and GDOT said all bridges and ramps on the interstate are icing over. Drivers were also warned of icy bridges near the Forsyth County line.

Along with dangerous road conditions, there were also concerns of accumulating ice on trees and power lines.

The forecast prompted Friday closings for many school districts across north Georgia. The status of Saturday activities in Pickens County has yet to be decided, pending the discretion of school principals. For a full list of closings, click here.

Channel 2 chief meteorologist Glenn Burns said the weekend forecast looks sunny and mild, with highs in the 50s.

The Georgia Department of Transportation said they had over 100 employees on call in case conditions worsened.

"Right now, we're kind of doing what everybody is doing," said GDOT spokesman Mark McKinnon. "We're watching the weather, trying to see exactly what this storm may do, if anything. We've got crews that are on standby, and as we get a little bit better handle on what's going to happen, then we can make better decisions on who we need to call in, if we need to call anyone in."

Ahead of the storm, McKinnon said crews had sprayed a new salt-brine onto some roads across extreme north Georgia. The salt-brine is designed to keep the ice from bonding with the road surface as happened during the so-called "Snowpocolypse" two years ago.

In some places across metro Atlanta, ice formed 2-3 inches thick and needed days to thaw out. After that winter weather event, GDOT spaced out 11 sand and salt barns along interstates around metro Atlanta so their trucks can have easy and quick access to them.

Chata Spikes runs GDOT's social media and said she plans to use Twitter, Facebook and the Waze app to keep motorists up to the minute on road conditions.

"I'm ready," said Spikes. "I don't want us to have bad weather, but just to know we can get information out to people so they can be aware as to what's going on the state's roads as well as the interstates. We don't want people stuck in traffic if they don't have to be."

The winter weather is blamed for at least one accident on Highway 52 in Lumpkin County as patchy ice developed on roads around the area.

Georgia State Patrol troopers said a 16-year-old flipped his pickup truck Friday afternoon after hitting an icy section of the Highway 52 Bridge over Yahoola Creek. The driver did not sustain any injuries. After the crash, DOT spreader trucks dropped more salt and sand across the bridge as the temperature hovered around 25 degrees.

GSP responded to the crash in cruisers, but also in a newly acquired Army-surplus Humvee. A trooper said several North Georgia GSP posts received the Humvees recently so they can better respond during inclement weather.

City of Dahlonega workers spent the day using spreader trucks to drop the salt and sand mixtures on roads around town. They also dropped cupfuls of salt on downtown sidewalks to prevent people from slipping.

"Right now, we're trying to put enough salt down to keep anything from freezing," said Dahlonega Public Works Directory Ricky Stewart. "Temperatures dropped since this morning, so we're trying to stay ahead of the ice."

At the Dahlonega Fresh 'n Frugal grocery store, employees were having a difficult time keeping shelves stocked as customers bought up supplies in case winter weather made roads impassable.

"People stock up around here because it is the country," said store manager George Herb. "They expect to get locked in when it's ice and snow."

Herb said they had to reschedule a delivery so they could make sure they had stocked shelves for the weekend.

In Forsyth County, Channel 2's Carl Willis found a steady rain, that only drizzled at times, which combined with freezing temperatures. The results were slippery surfaces that made for dangerous conditions on several Forsyth County bridges and overpasses.

Pedron Sanabria told Willis he was driving on a bridge on SR 53 when he tapped the brakes and nothing happened.

"I had control," he said.

"But you couldn't stop?" asked Willis.

"I couldn't stop. I was braking slowly, little by little," said Sanabria.

He was driving slowly and said the car behind him couldn't stop either and slammed into his rear bumper. Reports of icy conditions started to filter into GDOT.

Willis and his photographer followed state transportation crews as they went to work using dump trucks to spread a mixture of salt and gravel on bridges and overpasses.

GDOT's trucks responded to a call about an icy patch on SR 369 at the Forsyth County/Hall County line. They also dealt with ice on the overpass at SR 306 at SR 400.

Willis talked to Forsyth County Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers. He said his crews were not called on to respond to any weather-related accidents during the daytime hours.

 
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