Ahead of a wintry mix expected to hit the metro area, The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for parts of north Georgia.
The warning is in effect for Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union, and White counties until 7 a.m. Saturday. The region, which is also under a winter weather advisory, could get between one and three inches of snow in the northeast Georgia mountains, according to updated models.
Parts of the metro area are also under advisory, which is expected to last between 5 a.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday. Counties included in the advisory are: Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gordon, Gwinnett, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk and Troup.
The weather warning and advisory come ahead of a wintry mix of rain and snow expected to hit the metro area and north Georgia about 3 a.m. Friday, according to Channel 2 Action News. Metro Atlanta, particularly the I-85
corridor, could get between a half-inch and 1 inch of snow.
A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for parts of NE GA, and a Winter Weather Advisory covers much of north GA on Friday. Expect accumulating snowfall! Continue checking back for the latest updates. #gawxpic.twitter.com/35DEpESUNP
“Of course, with the roads being so warm (in metro Atlanta), the majority of that will melt on impact,” Channel 2 Chief meteorologist Glenn Burns said.
According to the latest forecast, there is a 70 percent chance of precipitation Friday, and the wintry mix could continue into Saturday and “anything lingering on the road could freeze into black ice,” Channel 2 reported.
Temperatures should be near freezing Friday morning as rain expands in the metro area. Heavier snow is possible by noon, according to Channel 2. By 9 p.m. Friday, snow should move out of metro Atlanta, and the wintry mix is expected to end by 11 p.m.
“The biggest concern may be Saturday morning when all of this moisture continues to run off on area roads,” Burns said. “The moisture melts, then refreezes as we get some really cold temperatures with lows in the 20s.”
The National Weather Service provided this timeline for Friday's anticipated wintry mix. (Credit: The National Weather Service)
Metro Atlanta, particularly the I-85 corridor, could get between a half-inch and 1 inch of snow. (Credit: The National Weather Service)
Habersham and White County school systems announced on their websites that schools will be closed Friday due to inclement weather.
But even with the wintry mix, “do not go to the grocery store and wipe out all the bread and milk because you won’t need it,” Channel 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said.
The forecast is fluid, according to Channel 2.
So far, no local governments or metro Atlanta schools have announced cancellations or delays. Atlanta, Decatur and Fulton County schools have stated they will remain open Friday. Dekalb and Cobb County schools have not said if they plan to remain open. Any cancellations by Gwinnett County schools should come 6 a.m. per their procedures.
The Georgia high school football championships scheduled for Friday and Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will continue as scheduled unless conditions worsen, a Georgia High School Associationspokesman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
College students entering the metro area for their holiday break should be fine, Burns said.
“The road temperatures are in the upper 50s and 60s,” he said in a Facebook Live video. “It’s going to take a lot to make these roads go below freezing. (GDOT) is pretreating the roads, so even if they do (become icy), we’re not going to have any significant travel issues.”
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport will have de-icing pads open for airlines to use, spokesman Reese McCranie said. The airport doesn't anticipate mass flight cancellations because the ground temperature will be above freezing, but the de-icing pads will be open because of anticipated precipitation, according to McCranie.
The Georgia Department of Transportation is preparing multiple brine trucks. Brine is a salt and water solution that keeps ice from forming on roads.
The brine trucks will fan out across metro Atlanta starting at 9 p.m. Thursday, according to the agency. Ten will hit the interstates, officials said. Another truck will be reserved for trouble spots such as interchanges and overpasses.
JOHN SPINK / JSPINK@AJC.COM
Randy Walker walks by 10,000-gallon brine tanks at the Georgia Department of Transportation facility in Forest Park.
The Cobb County Department of Transportation started treating bridges at noon Thursday, officials said. The process usually takes between three to four hours. The department has four trucks loaded with a total of 800 gallons of brine.
Fulton County spokesman Greg Thomas said discussions are ongoing about whether to close any buildings or cancel anything. The county has some brine trucks ready to treat roads in the new south Fulton city of Renaissance, where it is still responsible for transportation.
"Right now, we're just waiting and seeing," Thomas said. "We don't know if we're going to get nothing, rain or snow."
The Fulton County Public Works Department will start staggering shifts with snowplow-equipped sand spreaders early Friday.
“Drivers are reminded that inclement weather like Fulton County may see makes roads slippery,” the county said in a media statement. “Drivers should reduce their speed and allow more time and distance for braking.”
Gwinnett County fire officials attended a National Weather Service briefing at the Gwinnett Office of Emergency Management, Capt. Tommy Rutledge said.
“We are ... always prepared to staff additional units and resources should the need arise,” he said. “We will be in contact with other public safety stakeholders throughout the weekend.”
DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency Director Sue Loeffler urged residents “to get winter-storm ready by creating an emergency plan and assembling an emergency preparedness kit.”
Mike Singleton, who runs the Fayette County emergency management department, was meeting with the state DOT to determine how the county plans to respond to the inclement weather, a county spokeswoman said. The county had reached out to staff to let them know how they would receive weather alerts if there are problems.
Saturday and Sunday could see highs in the 40s after wintry conditions leave the metro area.
Temperature in metro Atlanta will stay just above freezing tonight. The rain/snow mix that falls tomorrow morning will be melting. Some areas could see minor accumulation through the day.