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Winter storm: State gives all-clear from ice on roads

The threat of ice on metro Atlanta’s interstates and state routes no longer poses a danger to travelers, and state transportation officials said they expect to close their emergency operations center by noon Tuesday.

“Everything looks good, roads are clear,” said Natalie Dale, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We were really fortunate given the amount of rain we got and the dropping temperatures that we were able to keep the roads free of ice. We had a relatively incident-free morning.”

Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth, the newly appointed director of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, said that the forecast changed three times on Sunday and several times Monday and overnight Tuesday. Initial predictions showed metro Atlanta waking to temperatures at or below freezing well before dawn on Tuesday, however temperatures didn’t dip below that point until later in the morning, with the worst chances of freezing in and around the city occurring between 8 and 9 a.m. By then, the sun was up and starting to warm the pavement, meanwhile gusty winds were helping to evaporate any lingering moisture.

Butterworth praised Deal’s decision to delay opening government offices until 10 a.m.. He said that is “exactly what we needed to be doing, and I think a lot of other folks have reacted similarly (by delaying going in to work).”

The gusty winds were a double-edged sword, helping to dry up wet patches on roads but knocking down ice-laden trees and power lines, especially in northeast Georgia.

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Metro Atlanta was largely spared from dire predictions of black ice, with just a few icy spots that were quickly remedied. No major accidents occurred.

Butterworth credited several recommendations of the Governor’s Severe Winter Weather Warning and Preparedness Task Force, which was convened last year after back-to-back winter whallops brought Atlanta to a standstill, with improving the state’s response to the icy threat. The recommendations included the hiring of a state meteorologist and the formation of more than a dozen “strike teams” composed of state troopers, state Department of Transportation workers and officers from Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Since Monday, the strike teams had been criss-crossing affected areas of the state responding to icy patches, fallen debris and stranded motorists.

Here is a link to a webpage where you can download the full task force report.

Staff writer Andria Simmons compiled this report.

Additional coverage: Icing knocks out power to thousands, threatens Tuesday morning commute

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