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'Rush hour from hell' stretches past 18 hours
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'Rush hour from hell' stretches past 18 hours

'Rush hour from hell' stretches past 18 hours
Stranded motorists slept in an aisle of a CVS Pharmacy on West Paces Ferry. (Credit: Jaime Sarrio/AJC)

'Rush hour from hell' stretches past 18 hours

The winter storm has mostly moved into the Carolinas, but metro Atlanta traffic remained gridlocked at 7 a.m. Wednesday as Tuesday’s afternoon rush hour from hell stretched into hour 18.

Traffic was 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 parts of I-285 that rings the city.

Students remained stranded at schools early Wednesday, as commuters lucky enough to make their way to makeshift shelters began 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.

WSB-radio in Atlanta reported on its website "the Snow Jam of 2014 might be the single craziest weather day in Atlanta in a generation."

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said early Wednesday that the National Guard was sending military Humvees onto Atlanta's snarled freeway system in an attempt to move stranded school buses and get food and water to people. 

“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.”

When the recently engaged Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman got stuck in Atlanta's inclement weather on Tuesday night, former Brave Chipper Jones rode in to rescue his friend.

Wednesday morning’s first road reports from were no better than Tuesday’s.

According to Cherokee County sheriff’s Lt. Jay Baker, road conditions just after 5 a.m. were “horrible all over the county.”

Early morning commuters hoping to avoid the gridlocked roads by taking MARTA were out of luck, as the transit agency suspended service until 10 a.m. After 10 a.m., trains and buses were expected to run on a Sunday schedule.

Temperatures at 5 a.m. ranged from 13 to 18 degrees in the metro Atlanta area.

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.

WSB-TV 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.”

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