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Storm shuts down parts of Georgia

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POSTED: January 10, 2011 9:43 a.m.

ATLANTA - A major storm dumped 6 to 8 inches of snow in the north Georgia mountains, with 3 to 6 inches in metro Atlanta, closing down schools, local government operations and even the state Supreme Court on Monday.

Many roads were impassable, and the Georgia Department of Transportation said it was concentrating on keeping major routes open.

"People are having a hard time getting to the highways, but once they get there they should be all right," state Department of Transportation spokesman Rick Parham said.

Outgoing Gov. Sonny Perdue declared a state of emergency, opening the door for the state to provide help for local governments, while incoming Gov. Nathan Deal moved his inauguration ceremony inside the state capital and canceled a gala celebration set for Monday night.

The storm blanketed the state from Columbus to Macon with sleet and ice overnight, the National Weather Service said Monday.

Heavier precipitation was moving out of the state, with light sleet and snow in the northern part of the state throughout the day, weather service meteorologist Matt Sena said. The forecast called for light sleet and freezing rain south of Atlanta.

The temperature was expected to stay at or below freezing Monday, meaning the roads would not clear up much during the day and would refreeze overnight. That could cause problems for Tuesday morning commuters, too.

Michigan native Phil Cooper has lived in Marietta for three years. On Monday, he drove 20 miles on metro Atlanta highways that he said were barely plowed to get to work in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood.

"Pretty normal for Michigan, but here in Atlanta you take 16 lanes of highway and it turns into two. And here we are talking on the street and there's nobody around."

Cooper said he hopes the streets stay empty when he heads home.

"All I hope is they stay off the road and don't slam into me, because I know how to drive," he said.

Schools throughout north Georgia, local governments and even the state Supreme Court, which postponed oral arguments scheduled for some cases it's deciding, shut down for the day.

Georgia Power spokeswoman Carol Boatright said crews were busy trying to restore electricity to several thousand customers, mostly in west Georgia, whose power was knocked out during the storm. She said thousands of workers were ready to deal with more outages, which were expected because of the icy conditions.

Sena, however, said that the precipitation had tapered off and that the storm was moving into South Carolina.

 

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