Winter weather hits SWGA: Southerners navigate roads, play in the snow

Winter weather hits SWGA: Southerners navigate roads, play in the snow

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The Georgia Department of Transportation and law enforcement throughout Southwest Georgia have been working around the clock to treat icy roads after winter weather hit the state.

And there seems to be one common message for the areas that saw snow and ice on Wednesday. Officials are all encouraging drivers to remain extra cautious on the roadways as temperatures drop Wednesday night, freezing any snow and ice that melted earlier in the day.

Coffee County sees treacherous road conditions

Several crews spent the day in Coffee County.

The roads in Coffee County have not been easy to navigate. There have been pileups all day on some of the hilliest routes in the area.

GDOT crews took to the roads in South Georgia around 2 a.m.

At the Salt Yard in Tifton trucks were filling up all day.

For 31 counties in South Georgia, GDOT started with 446 tons of salt and another 450 tons of gravel.

The two are mixed together and spread throughout icy areas of the road.

"The rock is designed that when cars drive over it, it pushes the rock down into the ice, which breaks up the ice and then the salt melts that ice," explained Nita Birmingham with GDOT.

Crews are doing the best they can, but law enforcement officials still advise drivers to stay off of the roads.

The snow that fell in Coffee County on Wednesday melted as the sun came out in the afternoon. But as temperatures drop again overnight, that melted snow will turn to ice, making the roads very dangerous.

At one point, Georgia State Patrol and the Coffee County Sheriff's Office had to block off an area of Highway 32 because there were so many accidents.

The majority of cars on the roads were big trucks, but there were some smaller cars that were trying to make their way around town.

One woman was driving her SUV home from work when she spun around.

"I was going slow. I thought I was going slow but I'm just blessed by Jesus," said Coffee County resident Jeannette Armour.

Other drivers from Lee County said they were surprised to see how much snow was in Coffee County.

"Only thing we've seen is this right here, about a quarter inch of snow. Driving conditions have been fine until about right here and they've shut us down," said Leesburg resident Nick Henderson.

There were several fields that were covered in snow Wednesday morning.

The snow is definitely starting to melt away but officials are suggesting you stay off the roads Wednesday night because they will get icy.

Dangerous road conditions in Lowndes County

As the snow from Wednesday melts in Lowndes County, officials want to remind people that ice will still pose a threat overnight.

Lowndes County officials said that although the snow is retracting, the water levels are not.

Lowndes County Public Information Officer Paige Dukes said that people should be on high alert when traveling to their destinations as freezing temperatures will turn the melting snow into ice overnight.

Dukes said if you can't avoid leaving the house, to please drive slowly and cautiously.

"Really we're asking people to stay off the roads until weather conditions improve, but we want them to be very careful until this weekend when things are forecast to warm up. We got a lot of water under this snow that we have coming down now and that's going to continue to thaw and freeze, thaw and freeze through the rest of the week," explained Dukes.

Lowndes County Emergency Management will be out Thursday bright and early monitoring the conditions of the road.

People are encouraged to check those conditions before heading out.

Ice impacts travel in Thomasville

The sun came out in Thomasville Wednesday afternoon, but that doesn't mean all the roads are clear.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials said the snow is still melting.

Officials said they worked over a dozen wrecks on Wednesday.

And when the sun sets Wednesday night, GSP troopers and GDOT officials want people to know that the water still left on the road could freeze as temperatures drop throughout the night.

As the number of wrecks in Thomas County hit double digits Wednesday morning, officials said that should be a warning sign for drivers to stay off the road.

Ice on the roads was a common sight across many South Georgia counties on Wednesday.

"This morning we had ice on about all the state highways and bridges in Thomas County," said Trooper Tommy Peeples with GSP Post 12.

Georgia State Patrol Post 12 responded to six vehicle accidents all on the same bridge off Highway 84 right before the bypass.

There was video from one that involved three different vehicles and was technically three different wrecks.

Troopers said a car lost control on the ice and wrecked on the bridge, shortly after that another car crashed into them and then moments later a semi hit both of those vehicles.

A terrible sight that troopers said should encourage people to stay off the roads during the wet winter weather.

"You can lose control at any speed. You're talking about running highway speeds of 60 to 65 miles per hour and going from asphalt to concrete where you have no traction whatsoever, you totally lose control of your car at that point," explained Peeples.

Troopers said most people when they feel like they are losing control of their vehicle mash their breaks. But officials said that is the worst thing you can do as you completely lose control on the ice.

"Driving on ice? There really is no way to prepare to drive on ice. Our best advice on days like today where we have wet weather conditions is to stay home until it warms up," encouraged Peeples.

As of now, all the bridges are back open in Thomasville and GDOT and Public Works has put sand on the bridges and roadways.

Troopers said you should still be cautious as we head into Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

Enjoying the winter weather

However, Wednesday wasn't all about dangerous driving conditions. Southerners got to see something that they don't get to see often in Southwest Georgia, snow.

And for some, it was even their first time seeing what Georgians may call a phenomenon in the South.

Making snowballs in Thomasville

Some areas of South Georgia experienced a winter wonderland Wednesday morning while others, not so much.

The trip from Bainbridge to Thomasville is just a straight shot down Highway 84, so for one little girl from Bainbridge who has never seen snow before that's exactly what she and her father did.

They bundled up, loaded up in the car and headed to Thomasville to play in the snow.

The snow started falling around 8:15 in the morning, but it really picked up around 8:30 a.m.

Skye Clements and her father Perry spent a few hours Wednesday morning having a snowball fight.

It's a unique experience that we don't see every day here in South Georgia.

"Never seen snow in South Georgia before. You like it? It's fun isn't it? Your little brother is at home and missing all of it. Making snowballs and trying to hit each other with the snow. And it's really cold isn't it? She's ready to get back in the truck," said Perry.

Skye and her dad really enjoyed their morning together.

They said her brother couldn't make it but they probably could have taken some snow back on their short ride with how cold it was.

If you are going to be out in the cold weather, EMS officials are encouraging you to wear layers, hats, and gloves.

Hahira residents play in the snow

Even though the snow has begun to melt in Hahira, community members still had the opportunity to get out and play in it.

Although it was freezing cold outside people knew that the snow day was a rare occasion and that they had to take advantage while they had the chance. And that's exactly what they did.

Some people came out for snowball fights while others simply walked around their neighborhoods to catch a glimpse of something that happens so seldom in South Georgia.

Sandy Collins has lived in the area for 17 years and said that this is her first time seeing snow in Lowndes County.

"It's refreshing, I'm not used to the snow so it's nice to see and walk around in," said Collins.

Community members said that the last time it snowed in Lowndes County this heavily was around 1978.

Kids enjoy the snow in Lowndes County

Jacquelin Esteban said she was shocked when the snow actually came to Lowndes County.

She and her friends had the chance to make snowmen and snow angels.

"It was cool, amazing, surprising. I was surprised it actually snowed," said Esteban.

It was an amazing experience for her and her friends.

Moultrie kids get to play in the snow

Kids in Colquitt County also had their fun in the snow.

Davis Branch and his brothers had a snowball fight Wednesday morning as the snow came pouring down.

But just a few short hours later, the snow melted.

And with school out for the rest of the day, Davis and his brothers made the most of their day playing at the Main Street Park.

"I like it but it has to stop sometime because no one wants to get a cold," said Davis about Colquitt's short-lived winter wonderland.

Much drier weather is ahead for the rest of the week, but very cold mornings are expected with lows in the 20s.

Snow isn't just for people

Wednesday morning's snow wasn't just a first for many South Georgians, it was also a huge treat for South Georgia shelter animals.

Monty is a rescue dog from the Moultrie Colquitt County Humane Society.

He enjoyed his first morning taking in the winter wonderland.

He didn't let a little cold weather put a damper on his play time. And neither did the shelter pets who pawed through the cold white snow.

"I was very surprised at Monty's reaction. I figured he was just kind of prancing around in it, but he got out there and ran and was having a grand ole time. South Georgia dogs love the snow," said Director Down Blanton.

Shelter volunteers also helped create a puppy snowman to greet people as they stopped by the humane society on Wednesday.

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