Snow and ice took Jefferson County and the surrounding area by surprise Thursday, creating slick conditions that lasted through this morning.

Doug Vest, Madison Street Department supervisor, said crews put down 37 tons of salt between Thursday night and this morning. Several city roads were unplowed when the snow started accumulating.

"We didn't get that much, but it all came at one time," Vest said.

Crews will continue to monitor the roads and put down more salt today and tonight. The National Weather Service is calling for a 50 percent chance of snow tonight and Saturday.

The cold weather forced all area schools except the Southeastern Career Center in Versailles to close today.

Madison police and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department reported at least 20 accidents last night during the peak of the snowfall.

Sheriff John Wallace said three accidents from Thursday night involved injuries, but none of them were serious. Police Chief Dan Thurston said there were a few slide-off accidents, but no major accidents.

Across the nation, several media outlets aired dramatic video showing a massive funnel cloud roaring through Adairsville, Ga., a town of about 4,600 some 60 miles northwest of Atlanta.

Three people died from the storm system that marched across the U.S. - tornadoes killed one each in Tennessee and Georgia, while floodwaters killed a third in Maryland. While most came away with their lives, many lost their homes and were left with little else a day later.

Tens of thousands were without power at the storm's peak as a cold front sent what had been unseasonably high temperatures plummeting to near-freezing depths. Dangerous wind blanketed the nation's midsection, with subzero temperatures and wind chills recorded in the Dakotas.

In Detroit, icy roads were blamed for a massive chain reaction wreck involving about 30 vehicles on Interstate 75. At least three people died there.

The tornadoes Tuesday and Wednesday broke the nation's longest break between tornado fatalities since detailed records began being kept in 1950, according to the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center. The last one was June 24 in Florida. That was 220 days ago as of Tuesday.

Winter tornadoes are not unheard of: In January 2012, at least two tornadoes ripped across Alabama, killing two people and wiping out scores of homes and businesses. Warm air from the Gulf of Mexico can collide with cold air inland, creating the sort of instability that spawned this week's tornadoes.