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STORY OF THE YEAR: 2011 roared in with massive winter storm

Our story of the year for 2011 occurred just a few days into the new year when a blanket of snow fell on much of the Southeast and closed down normal activity in Rockdale and Newton counties.

Snow began falling Sunday night, Jan. 9, and by daybreak Monday 3 to 4 inches of snow turned the outdoors into a winter wonderland.

Children were out of school and parents were urged to stay home. Most took advantage of the winter weather, breaking out sleds, holding snowball battles and populating front yards with what seemed like an army of snowmen.

However, as temperatures struggled to get above freezing, the snow turned to ice and many streets remained dangerous to drive on. A downpour of freezing rain Monday night turned the wonderland of snow into a nightmare of ice and treacherous roads.

Rockdale County and Conyers Police reported 32 accidents in the first day of the winter storm. Interstate 20 between Conyers and Covington was turned into "a parking lot of tractor-trailers," according to Conyers Police Department Capt. Mike Waters, as dozens of truckers were stranded on the icy road. Police worked through the night to get the traffic cleared.

Covington Police Department Capt. Ken Malcom said his officers worked a traffic crash Tuesday morning, Jan. 11, in which the driver hit the median wall on I-20 and left the vehicle.

"We were able to locate the driver and get the car off the road," Malcom said.

At the time Malcom said his patrol units were cautioning that "ice on the bridges is very thick and secondary roads are a major concern right now."

The weather broke after five days and roads that had thawed only to refreeze again at night, stayed clear.

Everybody handled the snow storm of 2011 in their own way. For some, work called despite the snow and ice.

Horace McCullough, manager of the Conyers Kroger at Ga. Highway 138 and Flat Shoals Road worked to keep his store open even if he only had a handful of workers.

"I drove my Tahoe in, and I plan on picking up a clerk from home and will need to drive her home this evening," he said at the time. "We're dealing with it."