State agencies in charge of responding to weather emergencies are bracing for a winter storm expected to hit North Georgia and metro Atlanta during the upcoming three-day holiday weekend.
Georgia Department of Transportation crews began treating interstate and state highways Friday morning with brine solution in an area stretching from the northern counties south to the line running from Columbus to Augusta.
While the forecast remained uncertain as of Friday afternoon, winter precipitation was expected to begin falling on Sunday morning, with two to five inches of snow likely in Northeast Georgia and up to eight inches at the higher elevations.
According to the National Weather Service, about a half inch of rain is possible in the Bulloch County area Sunday morning, but no sleet or snow is forecast.
The metro Atlanta region was expected to get up to one inch of snow and ice through Sunday night, James Stallings, director of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, told reporters during a news conference Friday.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said the state was preparing “to the max" for the blast.
“Hopefully, the storm will underdeliver, but it could overdeliver. We just don’t know,” he said.
With winds of up to 35 miles an hour possible, Stallings said fallen trees could cause power outages.
Tens of thousands of Georgia Bulldogs fans are expected to head to Athens Saturday to celebrate the Georgia’s college football championship at Sanford Stadium. Stallings suggested attendees either get home Saturday night or hunker down in Athens through the weekend.
“The least amount of travel we have on the roads helps us,” he said.
Georgia Commissioner of Transportation Russell McMurry said DOT crews will start spreading salt and gravel on Saturday night along 19,500 miles of highway that will need to be plowed. Highway workers from South Georgia will be brought north to help, he said.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck response,” he said. “We’re here for the duration.”
Col. Chris Wright, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, urged Georgians to stay off the roads during the weekend to allow highway crews and other emergency personnel to do their jobs without disruptions.
“Our state is going to be impacted in some manner by this storm,” he said.