The snow that fell late Tuesday into early Wednesday came with frigid temperatures, making many roads around the county impassible Wednesday and into Thursday. As a result of snow and ice on the roads, schools and the county government closed Wednesday and Thursday and city of Douglasville offices closed Wednesday and opened later Thursday after some of the frozen precipitation began to melt. The school system announced late Thursday that schools would remain closed Friday.
Douglas County native and iWeatherNet meteorologist Chris Robbins reported the total snowfall for Douglas County at 1.8 inches, which was within the 1-2 inches he predicted. Overnight into Wednesday morning, the temperature plummeted to 10 degrees with a wind chill of minus 1 degree.
Douglas County Communications Director Rick Martin issued an advisory Thursday morning that Douglas County emergency officials would be continuing to monitor road conditions and that the county’s Department of Transportation and facilities team were working to treat icy conditions at the courthouse and the county’s roadways.
“Some troubled roads we are receiving reports of is Mt. Vernon Road near the Sweetwater Creek State Park entrance in Lithia Springs.” said Martin. “Another road with icy spots was Monier Avenue near Lee Road as well. Fairburn Road near Earl Lee Boulevard was also iced over, but with the sun coming out in addition to DOT treatment, we believe the conditions will be improving throughout the day for Friday.”
Douglas County Fire Chief Scott Spencer said firefighters responded to a structure house fire on Highpoint Road on the west side of the county Tuesday night. The structure was a total loss and the cause of the fire remains under investigation. There were no injuries reported from the fire.
Spencer said the county's EMS division was receiving a lot of emergency calls due to the extreme cold weather, and with flu activity high he said EMS is receiving a lot of sick calls. Due to the season, Spencer said he has increased staff to accommodate the calls.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the Douglas County School System advised that due to icy roads and persistent freezing temperatures, schools would remain closed Thursday for all students and staff.
Thursday marks the sixth day during the 2017-2018 school year that students have missed school due to weather-related causes, said Portia Lake, Douglas County School System spokesperson.
Jason Milhollin, county director of emergency management, said there were numerous weather-related wrecks over the last few days, but unlike the last major snowstorm, there haven’t been any major issues such as power outages.
There were 17 people at the warming center at Douglasville First UMC Wednesday night and 14 from Tuesday to Wednesday.
According to Sgt. Jesse Hambrick, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded to about 88 traffic accidents as of Thursday morning. He said that there were no major problems. The sheriff’s office assisted with rides for nurses and doctors and public safety employees to get to and from work during the snow and icy conditions, Hambrick said.
Douglasville Police Major J.R. Davidson said that between Tuesday at 6 p.m., before the snow started until Thursday morning, Douglas County 911 handled 221 calls within the city. There were 20 reported accidents within the city and 17 reported vehicles stuck or disabled due to the weather. He said no serious injuries were reported.
One police vehicle was hit by a car as a result of icy conditions, Davidson reported. Another incident occurred at 10 a.m. on Wednesday when someone stole a car from the Race Trac on Highway 5, he said.
Douglasville Police helped transport homeless individuals to the warming center at Douglasville First United Methodist Church on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, according to Davidson.
Douglas County E-911 Director Greg Whitaker said Thursday morning that employees had been at the center around the clock since 5 p.m. Tuesday and was sending employees home to get some rest. As of Thursday morning, he reported the regular day shift was on duty, with other employees on stand-by.
He reported an influx of ice-related accidents since the snow and frigid temperatures reached Douglas County late Tuesday night and throughout Wednesday morning. Several house fires were reported, as was a non-weather related gas pump fire on Chapel Hill Road at the intersection of Stewart Mill Road.
Whitaker said they will be continuing to watch the roads as they continue to melt and resume normal operations. He warned that there is still ice under trees in some shady spots,
“It wasn’t like the last snowfall,” he said, “which became a major power outage event.”
Nonetheless, Martin indicated there were still dangerous road conditions within the county Thursday morning and advised caution if getting out on the roads.
According to Douglas County Department of Transportation (DOT) Director Miguel Valentin, the initial snowfall itself affected the entire roadway system; however it was not as much of a problem as the subsequent freezing and icing of the roads.
He said DCDOT crews pre-treated the primary problem areas; bridges, overpasses and hilly road sections. Once the precipitation melted and re-froze the DCDOT crews had to re-treat the same areas again, some areas several times.
“DCDOT has been working 12-hour shifts since early Tuesday morning in response to the snow/ice event,” said Valentin. “We continue treating as many areas as possible. However, we address the major roads first, so snow and icy spots are likely to remain in subdivision streets. Motorists should remain cautious when driving until the temperatures warm up and finish melting the snow and ice”.
He said that although the bridges and main roadway areas have been treated, many icy spots remain throughout the county, particularly in shady areas where the sun can't hit the surface to melt it.
Valentin said Thursday that all roads are open and passable.
“The only road we had to close was Chapel Hill Road at Route 166, which was closed for about 24 hours due to icing on the approach to the intersection,” he said. “My suggestion to motorists is to drive slowly and defensively; many icy spots still remain and once you lose traction on ice you don't have much control over where the vehicle goes.”
The city of Douglasville cancelled residential sanitation services Wednesday and Thursday due to inclement weather and will resume services on Monday. According to Greg Roberts, director of Maintenance and Sanitation, the city was unable to provide pickup for Wednesday and Thursday customers due to inclement weather.