Ice storm causes closures, outages

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The National Weather Service in Tallahassee said the worst of the ice storm that blanketed the area Monday is over but advised residents to brace for a round of colder temperatures from an Arctic air mass.

All flights in and out of the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport were canceled, power to a large swath of the city was knocked out, schools and some businesses were closed for the day, and state Department of Transportation workers treated bridges for ice as the powerful storm worked its way through the southeast late Sunday and Monday.

"There is no new ice expected in the area," NWS Meteorologist Ken Gould said. "There are a few pockets of drizzle around, but the ice is pretty much done."Gould, however, advised area residents to get ready for a round of sub-freezing lows during the next few days.

The weather service is predicting a low at freezing tonight, but temperatures are expected to drop sharply the rest of the week as the Arctic front rolls through. The low Tuesday night is expected to fall to 28, followed by lows of 21 Wednesday night and 25 Thursday night. Highs are expected to hit 50 today and only 46 the next two days.

All area schools were closed Monday, but Dougherty County School System spokesman R.D. Hart said that schools will reopen today.

"Unless something unusual happens overnight, we will have a normal day Tuesday," Harter said. "We're not concerned about the cold."

Lee County schools will have normal school hours today.

Officials at Deerfield-Windsor and Sherwood Christian schools could not be reached for comment.

The Southwest Georgia Regional Airport, which had flights canceled because of snow in Atlanta, was without power Monday morning and had no inbound or outbound flights all day.

SGRA Manager Yvette Aehle said barring any surprises, flights should resume today.

"We don't have a plane here since Atlanta was snowed in," Aehle said. "We anticipate our first in-bound flight at mid-morning and the first out bound flight is scheduled at 11:08 a.m. It really depends on what's going on in Atlanta.

"We are advising passengers to call ahead in the morning to determine their flight status."

Aehley said passengers may call (229) 883-0548 locally, or toll-free at (800) 221-1212. She also advised callers to be prepared for delays over the phone because of the volume of calls requesting information.

The local office of the state DOT, which closed then reopened the U.S. 19/Smithville bypass Monday, was not anticipating additional trouble for travelers today.

"With the temperature not expected to be below freezing tonight and no additional rain, we are cautiously optimistic we won't see any problems like we did Monday," Area Engineer Tony Cravey said. "But we are going to monitor the situation, and we have crews on stand-by in case something unexpected happens."

Dougherty County Emergency Management reported three calls of power lines down on the 1200 block of Forest Glen Drive at 6:50 a.m., the 1200 block of Towering Pines Lane at 8:18 a.m. and the 1300 block of Pinecrest Drive at 8:24 a.m.

The area near Dawson Road and Forest Glenn in central Albany was without power until around 9:10 a.m. Downtown power went out again a few minutes later and returned just before 10 a.m. Lights were out on Dawson Road and parts of East and West Oglethorpe boulevards during the morning commute.

The Albany City Commission canceled its planned Monday morning meeting, and Dougherty County courts sent personnel home. Municipal Court has been closed until Wednesday. The Dougherty County Commission also canceled its morning meeting.