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Much of Georgia gets rare snow day

Coastal area cold; undamaged

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POSTED: March 2, 2009 1:05 p.m.
ATLANTA - Students and teachers across central Georgia welcomed a snow day Monday after winter weather blanketed the state on the first day of March.

The rare March snowstorm closed schools, caused traffic accidents, canceled church services and knocked out electricity to thousands of homes as it moved across Georgia on Sunday. Authorities reported no fatalities or serious injuries from the ice and snow, which sent trees crashing across roadways and onto power lines.

"I guess the old saying is right: 'In like a lion and out like a lamb,'" said Tricia Smalls, 41, an office manager who was taking a cigarette break outside her mortgage company in downtown Atlanta on Monday.

Students got an unexpected three-day weekend as at least 50 districts closed in an area stretching from Columbus on the Alabama border up to the South Carolina border. A handful of colleges, including the University of Georgia in Athens, canceled classes or delayed opening to allow icy streets to thaw.

"I am planning on doing some errands I didn't get done yesterday," said Laura Kohnke, a teacher at Peachtree Ridge High school in Gwinnett County, the state's largest school district. "I didn't think this would happen. I thought it would all dry up with the wind last night."

Parts of the state got anywhere from 1 inch to 7 inches of snow on Sunday, said Matt Sena with the National Weather Service station in Peachtree City. It's one of just a few rare instances of snow in March, he said.

The mountains in north Georgia that usually get doused with snow and ice were spared the winter weather, he said.

About 47,000 homes remained without power Monday afternoon as hundreds of crews from Georgia Power and Georgia Electrical Membership Corp. worked to get electricity back to homes. At the peak, about 100,000 homes were without power Sunday night from trees heavy with ice and snow downing power lines.

The Georgia Department of Transportation had cleared most major roadways by about 11 a.m. Monday. Icy patches snarled traffic early Monday on Interstate 20 in Rockdale, Newton and Morgan counties and Interstate 85 in Jackson County, DOT spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan said.

The weather caused the Atlanta Community Food Bank to cancel its 25th annual hunger walk/run Sunday for the first time in 25 years, said founder Bill Bolling.

"We realized that it wouldn't be safe to walk - although we had people show up. We had both runners and walkers show up saying they were ready," he said.

The winter weather started moving across the South on Saturday, dumping nearly a foot of snow in areas of Tennessee that hadn't seen that much since 1968. The storm moved north overnight Sunday, hitting as far as New Hampshire on Monday and causing four deaths on roads in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and on New York's Long Island.

Staff writers Johnny Clark and Dionne Walker contributed to this report.


 

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