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February 11, 2014

Winter weather, take two

Storm a ‘major situation’

Stay home.

That’s the advice of local emergency management officials and weather watchers who were planning early Tuesday for an expected several inches of snow and some ice Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

As of Tuesday at noon, Ga. Highway 52 East in Murray County was already closed because of road conditions from a light snow earlier. No roads in Whitfield County had been closed as of The Daily Citizen’s early deadline, but Emergency Management Director Claude Craig said officials were preparing for the worst.

“This (weather coming in) is not a little snow like we got today,” he said Tuesday. “This is a major situation.”

National Weather Service forecasts warned several inches of snow were expected to fall overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, although higher elevations and some isolated areas could expect even more. Officials were also warning that ice would likely mix with the snow, making road conditions even worse. Dalton Public Schools, Murray County Schools, Whitfield County Schools, Dalton State College and Georgia Northwestern Technical College all announced plans to be closed today.

Craig urged motorists to stay off the roads. He said decisions by local school systems and others to close for the day likely helped ease the traffic situation on Tuesday. Craig estimated the 911 center had received 30 to 35 reports of road wrecks by Tuesday afternoon as opposed to the nearly 200 in a day they handled during snow that caught everyone off guard and jammed the roads two weeks ago.

Craig said local leaders have asked state officials for additional four-wheel drive vehicles so emergency responders can use them as needed. Planners were also stationing snow plows at several fire stations around the county Tuesday so they could pull out with emergency vehicles as needed, clearing the way for them.

In Dalton, Public Works Director Benny Dunn said workers pre-treated main roads Monday night and planned to do so again Tuesday night. He said workers have switched from eight-hour to 12-hour shifts and are operating on a priority list that starts with the main arteries and works its way down. He said collectors tried to pick up Tuesday’s garbage and recycling but were unable to because the trucks were slipping and sliding too much. He asked residents to leave their trash and recyclables at the roadside, saying public works crews would get to them as soon as possible, probably no later than Friday.

In Murray County, Sole Commissioner Brittany Pittman also asked motorists to stay off the roads as much as possible. Crews were out Tuesday preparing major thoroughfares, but she said the county — like other areas of the state — lacks the resources to treat and prepare every road.

“The roads are not going to be in the condition that they need to be (for safe driving),” she said.

Pittman and Murray County Emergency Management Director Dwayne Bain said several crews were sent home Monday to rest in anticipation of the storm that is expected to have them out in force and for long shifts as the week wears on.

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