The National Weather Service has extended until 1 p.m. today the Winter Storm Warning for Barrow County and the region due to hazardous driving conditions. And with Atlanta's traffic nightmare continuing south of here, Georgia Department of Transportation officials are urging the public to stay home.
"Georgia DOT urges motorists to stay off the roadways," states a 7 a.m. press release. "Hazardous driving conditions continue throughout northeast Georgia. Department of Transportation crews are active throughout affected areas but Georgia DOT is urging motorists to stay off highways as conditions are likely to continue to deteriorate until both the sun and temperatures rise. The Department advises the public to refrain from all but such absolutely necessary travel until midday at the earliest."
Said DOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale: “This storm and the bitter temperatures have caused so much difficulty, discomfort and anxiety for so many Georgians. We believe roadways will be restored to some level of normalcy today but would encourage the public to remain home, preferably all day. For your own safety, you should refrain from any driving unless you absolutely must.”
Traffic hampered state crews from treating roads and clearing incidents, and GDOT has brought in additional crews as well as private contractors.
"While isolated icy areas remain this morning, Department officials are hopeful minimal traffic Wednesday will allow for a full recovery," the press release states.
Crews are working throughout Northeast Georgia, including on Highway 81 and on Highway 211 at Highway 11 in Winder.
Barrow County Emergency Services partially activated its Emergency Operations Center Tuesday evening to monitor the situation and to get crews from the county's Department of Roads and Bridges to problem areas to salt and sand local roads.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting this morning at www.ajc.com that yesterday afternoon's gridlock on metro Atlanta's interstates is continuing, with many motorists stranded for 18 hours or more.
Barrow County public schools are closed today.
"Because of icy road conditions expected for Wednesday, school will be closed for the safety of our students and staff," said superintendent Wanda Creel. "All after-school activities are canceled as well."
Tuesday night's meetings of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners and the Barrow County Board of Education both were postponed to Thursday, Jan. 30. The rescheduled BOE meeting will be at 6 p.m., and the BOC meeting will be at 7 p.m.