Winter weather creates hazardous conditions
by Matt Shinall
Dec 16, 2010 | 3532 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anthony Gambino, left, and Alfred Reagan with City of Cartersville Public Works loads the spreader with a deicing materials that they began spreading on city streets around 5:30 p.m. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Bartow County Emergency Services were kept busy Wednesday night as numerous accidents were reported throughout the county. Authorities responded to vehicles along Interstate 75, major highways and local side streets reported as off the road, overturned and involved in multi-vehicle accidents.

The Georgia State Patrol said at 9 p.m. there was no way to estimate the number of accidents in Bartow County Wednesday, saying only that at no point was there less than 20 on the screen.

Most of the trouble was centered around Interstate 75 from exit 290 north to exit 306, according to GSP, adding that I-75 was "pretty much closing itself down."

Personnel said there had been nothing major with no fatalities or serious injuries, although one trooper was involved in an accident while working another crash.

GSP began working on road conditions as early as 3 p.m. Wednesday and said rush hour saw the worst of the action.

Bartow County Sheriff's County personnel said the department had no estimate on the number of accidents -- although an estimate would top 60 -- and most were concentrated on the north end of the county.

The National Weather Service issued an alert for 19 north Georgia counties Wednesday warning of possible hazardous driving conditions. Bartow was included in the list to be affected by mixed precipitation arriving Wednesday night and lasting into the morning hours today before a warm front brings temperatures to a forecasted high in the low 50s. Before the warm front was a line of precipitation being pushed across north Georgia wreaking havoc among motorists.

The weather alert, which expired Wednesday night, may have lingering effects leaving early morning commuters at risk. Motorists are urged to use caution on bridges and overpasses as they are likely to ice before other roadways.

"Surface temperatures are expected to be near freezing when the initial precipitation [began Wednesday.] Light sleet or freezing rain will be likely. Very thin ice accumulations can be expected ... especially on bridges and overpasses ... which may cause hazardous driving conditions. Motorists are advised to use caution and slow down. As the warm front approaches north Georgia during the night, temperatures will gradually rise into the mid-30s by Thursday morning," stated the NWS alert.

Bartow County Road Department Director Randy Gray and City of Cartersville Public Works Director Bobby Elliott said although they do not expect dangerous conditions this morning, street crews will be on-call to dispatch at the first sign of ice.

"We're going to be right at the borderline of freezing during the darkness hours but the temperatures are supposed to gradually start rising through the night and turn everything into slushy rain by the morning. There could be some overpasses and bridges that could ice over in the early hours of [Wednesday] night but we do have trucks loaded and people on standby," Gray said.

With temperatures expected to rise today, road conditions and other cold weather effects are not forecasted. After today's high, temperatures are expected to remain in the 40s throughout the weekend.

Elliott also said crews would be ready through Wednesday night prepping roads for the morning commute if needed.

"It's the same old thing. Once the sleet or freezing rain starts, depending on what the surface temperature is, it may be a problem, it may not be," Elliott said. "The bridges are always first because they'll freeze first having the airspace underneath.

"We just hold our breath and I've got one on-call individual and then four or five that are accessible within 15 minutes."

He added a sand truck also is loaded and ready to go while a second is on hand for quick response as well.