- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) - A dusting of snow and treacherous ice blanketed Alabama’s Tennessee Valley region Friday, causing wrecks, road closings and worries about whether the power would stay on as conditions worsened.

Emergency workers shut down elevated portions of Interstate 565 around Huntsville as a mixture of snow and ice turned asphalt white, and numerous wrecks were reported in Morgan and Colbert counties.

The National Weather Service said roads were impassable in at least seven counties, and drivers posted photos of stranded, overturned vehicles on social media.

“There is a lot of sleet falling right now, and it isn’t melting fast enough so the traffic is just packing it,” said Mike Melton, emergency management director in Colbert County. “That’s what is getting so slick.”

While temperatures were predicted to remain freezing for hours as a weather system moved through, highs are supposed to climb into the 50s in the area on Saturday, melting any lingering ice or snow.

Hundreds of schools in dozens of systems took the day off or sent students home early, and NASA shut down the Marshall Space Flight Center at lunchtime as the winter storm began coating north Alabama with frozen precipitation.

Huntsville and the rest of the state’s northeastern corner were under a winter storm warning through early Saturday, and forecasters said much of northern Alabama could get snow and sleet.

Up to an inch of snow and sleet is possible in northeastern Alabama, plus about one-quarter of an inch of ice. Officials feared weight from that much ice could topple trees and pull down power lines.

Forecasters say the western side of north Alabama could get as much as an inch of snow and sleet but less ice.

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