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Winter storm strands hundreds of motorists in Alabama along Interstate 65; roads slippery

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ATHENS, Alabama — Roadways across northern Alabama remained treacherous Saturday morning after a winter storm glazed the region with ice and stranded hundreds of motorists.

The biggest problems were reported on Interstate 65 near Athens, where an hours-long traffic jam Friday prompted motorists to abandon their vehicles.

Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson said the problem started when ice formed near an exit for U.S. Highway 72. Tractor trailers got stuck there, which brought traffic to a standstill. After hours of waiting, drivers began leaving their cars and trucks to find shelter.

"People were trying to get wherever they could," Johnson told Al.com. "A lot of people had run out of gas. That's why we started going and getting them. Some people had nothing to eat or drink since mid-afternoon."

Sold-out hotels let people stay in meeting spaces and dining areas.

A church that had already opened as a local warming center took in some people who got stuck in the traffic jam. Police officers drove several church members to buy additional pillows and blankets when the congregation ran out of cots.

Johnson said officers planned to help the stuck motorists back to their cars Saturday morning.

WHNT-TV reported most roads were impassable in Madison County, and roadways around Huntsville remained dangerous. Officials at the Limestone County Emergency Management Agency said only emergency vehicles were permitted on county roads and bridges until further notice.

All the latest news surrounding the blizzard of 2015 can be found here.

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All the latest news surrounding the blizzard of 2015 can be found here.


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