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Winter Storm Blankets Cherokee As Residents Battle Icy Roads

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning until 7 a.m. Wednesday for Cherokee County.

Cherokee County roads are filling up fast with snow and ice, and the conditions are not expected to improve anytime soon.

The county is now under a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service early Tuesday afternoon. The warning will be in effect until 7 a.m. Wednesday. 

The snow fall and the subsequent inclusion into the winter storm warning came as a surprise to local officials, as the National Weather Service only predicted Cherokee would see little to no accumulations, said Lt. Jay Baker with the Cherokee Sheriff's Office. 

"I think what we got is a lot more than what the National Weather Service predicted," he added. 

Baker added the road conditions are not "looking good" throughout the county.

Since 10 a.m. Tuesday, the agency has responded to over 100 accidents, most of which resulted in no injuries.

Along with the accidents, there are numerous reports of cars stuck in ditches and school buses getting trapped in the snow. 

In Towne Lake, a car hit a fire hydrant along Towne Lake Hills South near Woodstock Middle and High schools. The hydrant gushed water, and engulfed the car with icy, muddy water.

The road is iced over, and a salt truck is en route to help resolve the situation, the Woodstock Police Department wrote on its Facebook page. 

Baker added some students remain at school due to buses being unable to get to the students.

The hazardous conditions has forced the Cherokee County School District to temporarily suspend bus services.

"Until our roads are made safer, it isn’t prudent to continue to put students on buses at this time," Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo said in a statement.   

District students currently at school will remain there, and a parent or guardian can pick up their child if they are able to do so. 

"Schools will be in direct communication with parents of those students still in their care and are prepared to shelter students as necessary this evening," Petruzielo said. "School buses currently in service on a route will be attempting to complete those routes and deliver students."

Major thoroughfares such as Interstate 575, Highway 92, Bells Ferry Road and Highway 140 are littered with icy conditions. Treacherous conditions plague Reinhardt College Parkway/Highway 140 near Sam Nelson Road, Baker added. 
 
Hickory Flat Highway near Interstate 575 also has icy conditions, as do Northside-Cherokee Boulevard, Baker added. 

Baker, along with other public safety officials, are strongly encouraging residents to remain at home and do not venture out onto the roads.

The surprise snowfall has left some residents expressing their frustrations on local entities being caught off guard by the weather. 

"This day has become a nightmare," said resident Jennifer Tomlinson Walker on the Canton-Sixes Patch Facebook page. "I have two kids stranded at Creekview (High School) and Creekland (Middle School)."

Any Keeton noted she was "pretty irritated as well about schools not calling this earlier." She added her child finally got home 45 minutes "later than what was expected."

"That bus couldn't even get into our subdivision and I'm still waiting on another one to get home," she wrote on the Woodstock-Towne Lake Patch Facebook page.

The National Weather Service notes total snow accumulations could range between 1 and 3 inches across the areas covered under the warning. As temperatures continue to drop today and tonight, black ice could form, making traveling throughout the county even more dangerous. 

Temperatures tonight are expected to dip into the teens throughout Cherokee. Wednesday will bring mostly sunny skies and highs in the lower 30s. 
Allah Tabul January 29, 2014 at 09:21 AM
Everyone was predicting a winter storm, Heather. It is absolutely, 100% the fault of the superintendent for not closing the schools in face of imminent danger. You are crazy in your blind admiration of a man who knowingly put 39,000 children into harm's way yesterday to make up for the blunder of cancelling school 2 weeks ago when it was a bit cold outside. The man, and several others across metro Atlanta, should be fired immediately.
Frank Jones January 29, 2014 at 09:56 AM
Allah, lighten up. Geez. Dr. P made the right call 2 weeks ago since many in CC don't have the clothes for the ultra-cold temps and ultra-cold can cause major health issues. I agree that Dr P should have canceled school but if he had and the snow hadn't come people would have be irked...Closing school for the little threat of snow. You want to issue blame, so let's look at who is to blame. Dr P, 20/20 hindsight should have canceled. Weather Forecasters said storm was south and we'd get < 1 inch. Cherokee County Commissioners, didn't have snow plows or contingency contracts. GA DOT, where were the salt/sand trucks. Gov Deal & Assembly for cutting school funding. CCSD parents who pick kids up at school instead of letting kids ride the bus and contributed to gridlock. Workers who live 15-40 miles from work and flooded the streets all at once causing gridlock. Drivers who tailgate in ice and stomp on the brakes, drive 5 MPH uphill and 20 downhill causing wrecks or abandoning cars on roadways. The schools had a plan but conditions spiraled out of control quickly. They did the right thing by keeping kids safe, warm, and fed at school. Uncomfortable yes, but in the scheme of things, no big deal...they were safe. I thank the dedicated teachers & administrators who stayed with their students eventhough many had spouses & their own children to be concerned with. What could CCSD do to prevent another fiasco? If closing schools early, they should release bus riders 1 hour before car riders. This would reduce gridlock and allow the majority of kids to get home safely. Buy snow chains for the buses. Good for transportation but bad for the roads. Consider closing schools whenever there is a threat of bad weather, but people will have to lay off when they close schools but bad weather doesn't happen. Consider having optional school days whereby parent can send students to school or not. Students would be held accountable for the material if they choose not go to school (same as if they're sick).
Allah Tabul January 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM
Frank, gov Deal absolutely deserves blame too. But this whole smokescreen of blaming the weather forecasters is wrong. National Weather Service and numerous weather web sites had snow predicted for our area since Sunday afternoon. By the middle of Monday night/Tuesday AM, they were clear that we were now in the middle of the storm's path. Every school district in the metro area, including ours, ignored these warnings until it was too late. But the weather services were clear and correct in their predictions and cannot be blamed for this one. The state government cutting school funding had no impact on yesterday. No amount of increased funding would've prevented the weather. A simple, responsible decision from ours and other metro area superintendents would've prevented the traffic disaster that parents and children experienced. As usual, when real leadership was needed from government, there was none to be found at any level, state nor local. Real leadership cannot be purchased with any amount of funding, from the office of the governor down to local school boards. All are derelict.
Joe Johnson January 29, 2014 at 06:09 PM
These people blaming the government are pathetic. They had as much access to weather forecasts as the officials. Did they keep their children home? Did they stay home? What happened to personal responsibility?
Terry Tucker January 29, 2014 at 08:58 PM
Having more common sense than Dr. P is not an excusable absence. Can't just keep kids home because we feel like it.

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