Friday, 22 January 2016

Atlanta braces for winter weather, advisory expands to south metro

Atlanta braces for winter weather, advisory expands to south metro

Some schools were closed, others dismissed early and the governor declared a state of emergency in 21 counties ahead of a system that may dump as much as 2 inches of snow in metro Atlanta and more than a foot in higher elevations in north Georgia.

Wet conditions Friday morning had already led to downed trees and crashes throughout metro Atlanta, according to the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center. There were nine accidents on I-285 before 8 a.m., the Traffic Center’s Mark Arum said.
By noon, icy conditions were developing and expanding to metro Atlanta, while some areas were experiencing wind from the east moving in at 20 mph, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz said.
Atlanta braces for winter weather, advisory expands to south metro photo
“We’ve already had over 6 inches of snow, and it continues to pile up in extreme northeast Georgia,” Nitz said.
The Georgia Department of Transportation urged motorists to stay off roads between 3 and 6 p.m. so crews could treat them with brine.
Gwinnett and Walton counties are under a flood warning until just after 8:30 p.m. and Forsyth County is under a similar warning until 12:29 a.m. Saturday, Nitz said.
Atlanta braces for winter weather, advisory expands to south metro photo
A wind advisory is in effect until 7 p.m. Friday for north Georgia, Channel 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph may knock out power lines and down trees Friday north of Atlanta.
A winter weather advisory for accumulating snow and ice will be in effect from 3 p.m. Friday through 7 p.m. Saturday for metro Atlanta, and a winter storm warning for far north Georgia through 7 p.m. Saturday, according to Channel 2 meteorologists.
Just before 11:30 a.m., that advisory was expanded to counties south of Atlanta, including Coweta, Fayette, Henry and Spalding, Nitz said. Expect power outages and dangerous travel, he said.
Metro Atlanta could get a dusting to 2 inches of snow and a tenth of an inch or less of ice. Higher elevations in north Georgia could get more than a foot of snow, while other areas are expected to get between 2 and 8 inches.
Meteorologist Brian Monahan said wind gusts were traveling at more than 30 mph over most of north Georgia just after 5 a.m., and conditions will stay windy through the afternoon hours.
“This is all part of the same storm that will bring feet of snow to Washington, D.C.,” he said.
Weather photo
John Spink
» For updated traffic information, listen to News 95.5 and AM 750 WSB and follow@ajcwsbtraffic on Twitter.
Schools, government offices closing early
Several school districts were closed Friday, including those in Cherokee, Forsyth and Hall counties. Emory University will close at 2 p.m. Friday and remain closed Saturday.
Others — Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb, Douglas and Fulton county schools — closed early. Woodward Academy closed at noon Friday.
Atlanta city government, municipal court and parks closed at 11 a.m., Mayor Kasim Reed told reporters Friday morning. Atlanta Public Schools started releasing students on a staggered schedule between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Fulton County government will close by 1:30 p.m., he said.
Reed also urged businesses to begin releasing employees no later than 2 p.m., calling for flexibility for workers who must pick up children from area schools.
Other agencies were monitoring weather conditions to determine needed changes. Spokeswoman Alisa Jackson said MARTA was running on a regular weekday schedule as of 11:13 a.m.
Georgia Power opened a storm center at 6 a.m., spokesman John O’Brien. Since midnight, the agency had restored power to customers in north Georgia, where most of the 20,000 outages occurred.
Earlier, Deal ordered state agency heads to encourage employees to telecommute where appropriate and called on local governments and private businesses in metro Atlanta and north Georgia to do the same.
State government offices closed at noon Friday. DeKalb County closed administrative offices at noon. And Zoo Atlanta closed its gates at 11 a.m. Grounds closed at noon, officials said.
The frigid weather is part of a new weather system that will move through the area following one that dumped several inches of snow in the far north Georgia mountains earlier this week.
The Mid-Atlantic region was also preparing for up to 2 feet of heavy, wet snow and blizzard conditions, and major airlines, including Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, were canceling or adjusting flight schedules.
Temperatures were 41 degrees in Atlanta, 40 degrees in Blairsville and 46 in Griffin just after 11:30 a.m.
State of emergency
Deal added more counties to a state of emergency order that is in effect through midnight Sunday. The counties covered by his emergency order include Banks, Catoosa, Dade, Dawson, Fannin, Franklin, Gilmer, Gordon, Habersham, Hall, Hart, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, Rabun, Stephens, Towns, Union, Walker, White and Whitfield counties.

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