Snow surprise went from ‘bad to worse’
by Jessica Loeding
Jan 29, 2014 | 7611 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Downtown Cartersville was covered in snow Tuesday afternoon when winter storm Leon moved farther north than predicted and dropped several inches of snow on Bartow County. JASON LOWREY/The Daily Tribune News
Downtown Cartersville was covered in snow Tuesday afternoon when winter storm Leon moved farther north than predicted and dropped several inches of snow on Bartow County. JASON LOWREY/The Daily Tribune News
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A group of men work to free a stuck Saturn coupe on Church Street Tuesday afternoon. Low temperatures led to freezing and spots of ice on the road as winter storm Leon moved through Bartow County. JASON LOWREY/The Daily Tribune News
A group of men work to free a stuck Saturn coupe on Church Street Tuesday afternoon. Low temperatures led to freezing and spots of ice on the road as winter storm Leon moved through Bartow County. JASON LOWREY/The Daily Tribune News
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Two Cartersville High School students walk home Tuesday afternoon after classes were dismissed early due to the weather. Classes are canceled today in both Cartersville and Bartow County school systems. JASON LOWREY/The Daily Tribune News
Two Cartersville High School students walk home Tuesday afternoon after classes were dismissed early due to the weather. Classes are canceled today in both Cartersville and Bartow County school systems. JASON LOWREY/The Daily Tribune News
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Winter weather caught the county off-guard Tuesday morning, blanketing most of the county in several inches of snow.

Snow began falling about 10 a.m. across most of the county, and Bartow County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Cuprowski said by early afternoon the situation had gone from “bad to worse.”

By 6:30 p.m. Bartow County Fire Department Chief Craig Millsap said the county received between 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches of snow.

The powdery precipitation was a surprise after forecasters said the worst of the winter weather would pass to the south of metro Atlanta.

Millsap and Cuprowski said the early morning prediction from a call with the National Weather Service remained much the same — Bartow County would receive only a “dusting.” By 10:30 a.m. the NWS was revising the forecast to 1 to 1 1/2 inches of snow for southern Bartow County with the northern portion seeing only 1/2 to an inch of accumulation.

“Right now, I think that it came on harder and faster than we anticipated,” said Cartersville Fire Department Chief Scott Carter.

Timing wreaked havoc, creating a hazardous mix of snow and traffic.

“They dumped everybody out at the same time,” Millsap said, “and it turned into a parking lot.”

Crews were beginning to make headway by early Tuesday evening, but abandoned vehicles were making it difficult to clear roadways.

Cartersville Public Works and Bartow County Road Department, along with Georgia Department of Transportation crews, were sanding and salting roadways.

Neither the city nor the county reported any roadways closed, although numerous streets were impassable.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday signed a state of emergency declaration related to the winter storm for the entire state.

“Many parts of our state have experienced heavy sleet and snowfall, and in the metro areas we’re experiencing traffic jams caused primarily by heavy volume after the quick onset of the winter storm,” Deal said in a statement. “Unfortunately, traffic is delaying the ability of crews to treat highways all across the state. ... State DOT crews will work around the clock to get roads clear; in addition, the National Guard, the Department of Public Safety and GEMA will work to get the state back to normal as quickly as possible.”

Bartow County Sheriff’s Office personnel on Tuesday afternoon began transporting Bartow County students and Cartersville Medical Center personnel.

“It’s just what we do,” Sheriff Clark Millsap said.

This morning brings concerns, as any melting from Tuesday refreezes. Today will be sunny but the high will not top freezing. Overnight lows will again drop into the low teens.

Millsap said the National Weather Service said it will be mid-Thursday before the county sees any “significant melting.”

Residents are advised to stay off the roadways and not go out unless necessary.