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No slip in winter's grip
Ice thickens as warm-up unlikely anytime soon
WEB marketplace snow
Drivers who ventured out on Tuesday found many of the roads, including Market Place Boulevard, covered in an icy slush. - photo by Jim Dean

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The effects of the winter storm that blanketed Forsyth County in snow overnight Sunday -- shuttering schools, government offices and many businesses and making travel treacherous -- likely will be felt for some time.

The National Weather Service forecast shows daytime high temperatures may not reach above freezing until Thursday or Friday. If that holds, the snow and ice won't be going anywhere for a while.

In the meantime, the heavy snowfall, which at times changed over to sleet and freezing rain, has made many roads impassable. Those that are require extreme caution to navigate.

Fortunately, it appeared most Forsyth residents had heeded the warnings of authorities and were hunkdering down at home.

Forsyth County Fire Capt. Jason Shivers said the department had little activity to report, other than the occasional call for a medical emergency or a minor wreck. Traffic was light.

"While many roads may be passable, they're still not safe to travel on," Shivers said. "Moreover, the snow has ended but we're now having sleet beginning to fall and we do expect these roads to begin to ice and slicken up."

Things were relatively quiet at Ingram's Renegade Towing & Recovery until early Monday night.

That's when owner Smokie Ingram said business started picking up. One caller even asked if Ingram had a snow plow. (He doesn't.)

"Most people had enough sense to stay home," Ingram said. "Those who didn't should be charged with a felony."

Shivers said residents should remain careful and stay off the roads unless there's an emergency.

"State and county crews are making great strides, wonderful effort in maintaining lanes on the road, but there's only so much they can do," Shivers said.

As early as late last week, officials began issuing warnings about the approaching winter storm.

Many businesses told employees to stay home and schools and government offices were closed.

Supermarkets and food stores experienced a weekend rush on supplies, including the ever-popular bread and milk.

The Forsyth County school system made the decision to close Monday on Sunday afternoon as the storm barreled down on Georgia.

By early Monday, six to seven inches of snow had fallen in some spots across the county.

Early Monday afternoon, classes were called off for Tuesday. All after-school programs, athletic events and activities on both days were postponed.

District spokeswoman Jennifer Caracciolo said it's not clear yet how the rest of the week will unfold, though officials will be monitoring the situation.

"The No. 1 think we'll look at throughout the week is transportation," she said. "If we can't transport students, then we can't have school."

She added that a decision whether to hold school would be made as early as possible the day before.

There have been no discussions yet about make-up days, though Caracciolo said the system does have some inclement weather days built into the schedule.

The winter weather also forced the closure of Forsyth County government offices and many businesses. All parks and recreation activities were cancelled.

Crews with the state Department of Transportation at first focused mainly on clearing main interstates, at least keeping one lane in each direction open.

"There is still black ice," spokesman Rick Parham said. "... And we're still having to go back and blade the roads."

Crews planned on working 12-hour shifts, with the DOT's priority eventually shifting to four-lane state routes and then two-lane state routes.

"This is maximum effort type of effort — no furlough days," Parham said. "Daylight will be better -- people will be able to see the road conditions."

According to a DOT news release, tractor trailers attempting to move through the state were experiencing difficulties with the road conditions, resulting in many wrecks, as well as significant traffic delays due to blocked roads.

“Our maintenance crews are still working as hard as they can to clear the lanes, but we are facing more ice and freezing rain as we move into the evening,” said DOT Commissioner Vance C. Smith Jr.


FCN regional staff contributed to this report.