GA: Gridlock Continues as Unspeakably Horrible Commute Home Stretches Into Hour 18

Jan. 29--The winter storm has mostly moved into the Carolinas, but metro Atlanta traffic remains gridlocked at 6 a.m. Wednesday as Tuesday's afternoon rush hour from hell stretched into hour 18.

Traffic is still bumper-to-bumper and barely moving on several Atlanta interstates, including on I-75 north of downtown, on I-20 west of downtown and on the top-end Perimeter.

Students remain stranded at schools, as commuters lucky enough to make their way to makeshift shelters begin waking up in churches, fire houses and stores that remained open all night to provide a warm place to stay as temperatures plummeted into the teens.

"The winter storm that devastated traffic in metro Atlanta and presented dangerous driving conditions across nearly two-thirds of Georgia has essentially moved into the Carolinas and the Atlantic Ocean but its impact continues to be felt throughout the state," Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale said.

"This has been a trying night for thousands of Georgians," Dale said. "This storm and the bitter temperatures have caused untold hardships."

Wednesday morning's first road reports from the AM750 and 95.5FM News/Talk WSB Traffic Center are no better than Tuesday's.

According to Cherokee County sheriff's Lt. Jay Baker, road conditions just are "horrible all over the county."

Baker said roads are completely impassable in the Lake Arrowhead area, and Ga. 140 is shut down near Stringer Road.

In Alpharetta, Old Milton Parkway and Main Street are closed due to the icy conditions.

Authorities are blocking the entrance ramps to Ga. 400 and shutting down U.S. 78 eastbound at Mountain Industrial Boulevard.

Early morning commuters hoping to avoid the gridlocked roads by taking MARTA are out of luck, as the transit agency suspended service until 8 a.m. After 8 a.m., trains and buses are expected to run on a Sunday schedule.

Predawn temperatures range from 13 in Dunwoody and 14 in Cartersville, Alpharetta, Marietta and Chamblee to 16 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and 18 in Peachtree City.

The winter storm warning for most of the state has been extended through 1 p.m. Wednesday because of the icy road conditions.

The bad news for motorists still stuck in the gridlocked traffic is that conditions aren't likely to improve until after daybreak.

Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist David Chandley said the "hope is going to be in sunshine" Wednesday afternoon, as highs are only expected to reach 30 degrees.

Chandley said that sunshine, along with brisk winds, could help help with driving conditions in some spots.

"The wind will be a big factor," he said. "We get the sun on the roads, get a little bit of melting, get the wind to help with evaporation, and we can clear some of those roads, but then what's going to happen is the wind dies down, the temperature drops and we look for a refreeze this evening."

Chandley said lows Wednesday night will plunge to around 17 degrees before temperatures finally warm into the low 40s on Thursday.

Friday will begin cold, with lows in the upper teens, but afternoon temperatures should reach the low 50s.

Chandley's weekend forecast calls for highs in the low 60s Saturday and Sunday, with lows in the upper 30s to mid-40s and a slight chance of rain.

Copyright 2014 - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution