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Winter storm fizzles out here

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POSTED: January 12, 2011 10:00 a.m.

Forecasters’ weekend weather warnings had coastal Georgia residents bracing for treacherous road conditions, but the intermittent rain and freezing temperatures that moved into Liberty County on Monday fell short of what many in the area had expected.
“Well, I can only say it has been a boring emergency,” Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges said.
On Sunday evening, the EMA predicted ice would accumulate Monday morning in western Liberty County, but severe weather never materialized.
“There have been no reports of ice other than a very brief period of sleet in the Gum Branch area,” Hodges said Monday afternoon.
However, the Liberty County School System did cancel all classes Monday as a precautionary measure.
Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer, who announced the closures on Sunday evening, said ice predictions from the EMA and other area forecasters influenced her decision. The school system recognized the potential for bus accidents on icy roads and the danger of having students standing by the sides of the roads while waiting for the buses, Scherer said.
“Part of what you have to look at is your roads and we have a lot of rural roads and dirt roads in Liberty County,” she said.
The superintendent opted to make the call on Sunday so parents would have time to make child-care plans instead of scrambling for solutions Monday morning. Still, she realizes many parents may not have agreed with her decision.
“It’s not an easy decision to make,” Scherer said. “You know when you make it that you’re not going to make everybody happy, but we will err on the side of caution.”
Although rain kept area roads slick, no vehicle wrecks or injuries were reported.
“There have been no accidents directly related to the weather,” Hodges said.
Several areas surrounding Liberty County, however, weren’t as lucky. Ice from the storm sent tree limbs crashing into power lines Monday, knocking out power to 6,500 customers mostly in Dublin, Hawkinsville, Savannah, Statesboro and Waynesboro, Georgia Power spokeswoman Carol Boatright said. In other cases, ice-covered electric lines failed.
In Atlanta, the wintry weather interfered with the start of the 2011 legislative session, which, in accordance with the state constitution, must begin by 10 a.m. on the second Monday in January. Several lawmakers hitched rides to the Capitol with Georgia State Patrol troopers. Patrol spokesman Gordy Wright said about 50 lawmakers were picked up by officers. Marshall Guest, spokesman for House Speaker David Ralston, said most were already in town Sunday night and were picked up from locations around downtown Atlanta, not far from the Gold Dome.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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