Winter storm Pax left five-plus inches of snow, sleet and ice on area roads, making driving conditions hazardous this (Thursday) morning throughout the area.
Motorists are urged to stay off the roads. All Jackson County governmental offices remain closed, as are the Commerce government offices and all local schools. Public works employees continue to work on area streets, and Georgia Department of Transportation crews are working to keep state highways passable.
Most businesses remain closed, although many convenience stores and grocery stores remain open, but DOT and local law enforcement officials continue to advise motorists against taking to the roads.
As of Thursday morning, the storm did not live up to its "catastrophic" prediction. Power outages were minimal, because the expected freezing rain did not occur in Northeast Georgia.
Major thoroughfares are open. U.S. 441, for example, is open from Commerce to Athens, but extreme caution is urged. Interstate 85 is also passable with caution.
With the threat of a “dire” storm looming, Georgia DOT dump trucks mounted with snow plows and spreaders are treating Northeast Georgia’s state routes and interstates. A mixture of winter precipitation is now falling throughout Northeast Georgia, it is snowing in Cumming to Gainesville to Athens and sleet south of there.
“This is a very dangerous ice storm and we strongly encourage the public to stay off the roads unless it is an extreme emergency” said Georgia DOT Commissioner Keith Golden.
Crews are plowing snow and spreading salt and gravel on state routes and interstates throughout the region. Heavy snow accumulations in Banks, Elbert, Forsyth, Franklin, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Madison, Stephens, Rabun, Towns, Union and White Counties recovers the roadway minutes after the snow is plowed off. Roadway conditions are treacherous. Do not travel in these counties – stay put, please. Additional traffic on the roads will compound already perilous conditions.
At approximately 9:00 pm last night, Georgia DOT crews began a systematic treatment and retreatment of metro area interstates, running their routes accompanied by the safety of the GSP escorts.
Latest weather predictions call for a “dire ice storm” that could include extreme black ice; 7+ inches of snow across Northeast Georgia; freezing rain with up to 1 inch of ice accumulation north and south of the I-20 corridor; and 20 -30 mph winds which increase the threat for widespread downed limbs, trees and power lines.