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Winter blitz succumbs to gradual melting

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

Ice continued to melt away from rooftops and roadways, Wednesday, though temperatures in some areas struggled to get up to freezing.

Windy conditions, coupled with sunshine throughout the day, however, aided in the evaporation process on icy rooftops and roads in Henry and Clayton counties, and the rest of metro Atlanta, according to National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist, Mike Leary.

Some of the ice is expected to remain, with overnight temperatures dipping into the teens through Friday. However, Leary noted that daytime temperatures are expected to gradually increase in the Southern Crescent area. "Thursday is going to be sunny, with low temperatures around 16 degrees, but highs in the low 30s," said Leary. "Friday will be sunny, with morning lows around 13 degrees, and highs in the low 40s."

Leary said weekend high temperatures will be about normal in the region, for this time of year. Saturday will be mostly sunny in this area, with low temperatures in the low 20s and highs in the low 50s, he said. Sunday will be turning mostly cloudy, with morning lows in the upper 20s and highs around 50 degrees.

Leary expects a slight chance of rain on Sunday, with chances increasing to 40 percent through Monday. Monday's temperatures will hold in the lower 30s, for morning lows, and in the lower 50s, for daytime highs.

Animal care encouraged

The Henry County Animal Care and Control Department performed several "check condition" calls during this week's storm, according to Gerri Yoder, the department's director. "We did impound several animals [five dogs] due to inclement weather, for lack of appropriate shelter," said Yoder.

Pet owners must remember to keep adequate shelter for their pets to protect them from the elements. Dog houses, for example, must be dry, four-sided shelters with some sort of bedding for extra warmth, added Yoder, citing county code.

"The best case scenario -- if you have an outdoor pet -- is to bring it inside," she said.

Yoder said department workers found several frozen water bowls for pets, and frozen water troughs for livestock, during their visits this week. The cold snap will likely affect the habits of native wildlife, whose normal food supply diminished during, and immediately after, the storm, said the animal care and control director.

"People should be extra mindful that, as temperature levels fall, metabolism increases, and wildlife will have increased appetites," Yoder warned. "For instance, you may see a larger number of birds at your bird feeder than normal. We haven't had any incidents of people reporting raccoons or foxes coming up," she continued. "[But] any time we have inclement weather, it does bring wildlife out. As always, never approach wildlife. Enjoy wildlife from afar."

To learn more about animal care during cold-weather snaps, visit the Henry County Animal Care and Control web site at www.co.henry.ga.us/animalcontrol.

Postal Services Return To Normal

United States Postal Service (USPS) operations are returning to normal across North Georgia, according to USPS Spokesman Michael Miles. Services in northern parts of the region had been hampered by the severe winter weather that moved in Sunday evening, he said.

"Most of our problems over the last couple of days were in transportation in northern parts of the state," added Miles. The USPS official noted that postal services in the southern suburbs of Atlanta have mostly remained marginally affected by the weather conditions. He said regular delivery and retail service should be back on track, today.

"One thing we're asking customers to do is -- clear the path around their mailboxes of ice, snow, or any other obstacles that might interfere with their carrier's delivery, as they make their deliveries," said Miles.

Local Schools Remain Closed

Schools in the adjoining Henry and Clayton school districts decided late Wednesday to remain closed today, following three days of cancellations.

The Henry County School System will be closed today due to road conditions in many parts of the county, according to Tony Pickett, the executive assistant to the Office of the Superintendent. Pickett said a road-safety assessment was made Wednesday by school officials, with the assistance of local public safety, emergency and transportation officials.

Clayton County Public Schools Spokesman Charles White said district leaders decided to keep schools closed Thursday, because of ice-related problems. "There are still some issues in parts of the county," White said. The school system was closed on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Unlike with the previous three days that Clayton's schools have been closed this week, however, White said the school system's maintenance crews are expected to report to work by 9 a.m. "They are going to be starting to go around checking schools, to make sure they are OK," he said. All extracurricular activities are also cancelled, he added.

Nearly All Major Roadways Open

The Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) reported no major road closures as of late Wednesday. "Ninety-nine percent of state routes and federal routes in metro Atlanta are passable," said Georgia DOT Communications Officer Craig Solomon.

"Our crews are making good progress, and we hope to have all state routes and federal routes passable heading into Thursday morning," he continued. "Our crews will be working through the night to keep the roads open."

In Clayton County, authorities joined forces to handle road closures and accidents, on Wednesday. Officials from the Clayton County Emergency Management Agency, the Clayton Police Department, Fire and Emergency Services, Emergency 911 Services, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and Clayton County Transportation and Development, gathered at the Emergency Operation Center, in Jonesboro.

"The pulse of the entire county is in this room [emergency center]," said Capt. Tina Daniel, a Clayton County Police public information officer. The main issue, Daniel said, was ice from the recent storm melting, then re-freezing on the roads.

"Most of the problem areas are the secondary streets," Daniel said. She said salt-and- gravel trucks from Clayton County Transportation and Development were going to re-treat the problem areas Wednesday evening.

There were several road closures listed, by the county police department, on Wednesday evening, on www.twitter.com. Daniel said the department will update road closures at http://twitter.com/ClaytonCountyPD.

Off The Ground

More encouraging travel news came from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, where spokesman, John Kennedy, reported that the airport was functioning well, with operations returning to normal on Wednesday. "Everything is just fine," he said.

Delta Air Lines officials also reported that things are getting back to normal at the carrier headquartered in Atlanta. Officials with Air Tran Airways, however, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Public Agenda

Clayton County government officials announced, on the county's web site, that all county offices will open today one hour later than usual, at 9 a.m., because of the weather. It will be the first time, since last Friday, that non-essential county offices have been open.

-- Staff writers Curt Yeomans, Maria-Jose Subiria and Mehgaan Jones contributed to this article.