Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 30, 2014

Freeze!

Winter weather brings area to a standstill

VALDOSTA — South Georgia is among the last place where residents and motorists need to prepare for winter weather, but the past few days have been the exception to the rule.

Temperatures began dropping below freezing around noon Wednesday and a mix of sleet and snow began to fall around 1:30 p.m. The staff of Lowndes County began prepping for the storm earlier this week, but since the temperatures never hit freezing, they allocated their

resources to late Wednesday and early Thursday morning.

“We have public-works crews as well as emergency management that will be monitoring the conditions through the night. We are encouraging citizens even more than ever to stay off the roads,” said Paige Dukes, Lowndes County clerk and public information officer. “We are going to continue as conditions worsen as it relates to the ice on the road. Until everything warms up and melts off the road (Thursday).”

The county began utilizing its resources at approximately noon Wednesday.

“Crews are out assessing bridges and have begun distributing salt and sand onto a couple of bridges that have begun to ice over,” Ashley Tye, Lowndes County emergency management coordinator, said Wednesday. “The primary concern there is that any precipitation that falls will not likely dry up before the hard freeze sets in later tonight. If that does in fact occur, icy roads are almost a certainty tomorrow morning until the sun comes up and temperatures rise enough to allow thawing to occur.”

Dukes bolstered Tye’s claim, saying, “We have county crews standing by bridges on the north end of the county. We will continue to monitor those bridges over the next 24 hours. We have salt and sand trucks available to take care of the maintenance.”

If motorists must get on the road, they are advised to drive with extreme caution. The state Department of Transportation tells drivers to:

— slow down to at least half their normal speed

— use a lower gear as they drive

— tap the breaks to avoid uncontrolled spins

— beware of black ice especially on bridges and overpasses

— watch out for over-confident and under-experienced drivers

Cold weather is hazardous to more than just motorists, residents need to know where to seek shelter once the temperature drops. Lowndes County has three shelters available to residents. Mission Point Church in Downtown Valdosta at the corner of Ashley Street and Hill Avenue; LAMP, 601 N. Lee St.; Salvation Army Transit Lodge, 317 Virginia Ave.

The county sent its staff home at 3 p.m. Wednesday, and will not open until 10 a.m. today. The Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority did this as well.

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