Ice is forming over much of the west Georgia area early Saturday morning while meteorologists say local residents can expect less snowfall accumulation throughout the early morning hours.
Local emergency officials stressed the need for residents to avoid driving as temperatures drop, causing dangerous patches of black ice to form.
“Right now, we are urging people to stay off the roadways,” said Carroll County Emergency Management Association Director Tim Padgett. “There’s some slick spots out there, and it’s getting worse as the temperatures drop.”
Padgett noted that emergency workers are reporting downed power-lines, which have caused power outages across the county.
Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 79 Georgia counties, including Carroll, Douglas, and Coweta to last until 1 p.m. on Saturday.
Meteorologists with the National Weather Service initially expected higher accumulation totals for the west Georgia area this weekend. According to NWS models, 3-4 inches of snowfall accumulation was predicted for the Carrollton area, but accumulation forecasts were recently adjusted to show less snowfall.
A Winter Storm Warning was issued Thursday afternoon ahead of what forecasters said could prove to be significant accumulations across the Metro Atlanta area.
“Our confidence remains high that we will see accumulating snow across north and central Georgia beginning tomorrow afternoon and going through Saturday morning,” said David Nadler, a meteorologist with the NWS. “The potential exists in this system for a narrow band, or multiple narrow bands of heavier snowfall. We could see in excess of four inches, if not more, in some areas.”
Snowfall totals for the Carrollton area are expected to range from 1-3 inches.
A mix of rain and sleet blanketed much of the west Georgia area with a layer of icy accumulation late Friday night.
According to NWS meteorologists, the heaviest snowfall for the Carrollton area will occur during the early morning hours on Saturday. Snow could accumulate as quickly as one inch per hour after midnight. Meteorologists say there will be small bands along the Metro area that will see heavier snowfall.
Local officials have made preparations ahead of the winter storm. Members of the Carroll County Emergency Management Association held meetings Thursday to update all local public officials, as well as law enforcement and emergency workers.
“We’re ready for it, and the good thing is that we’ve already been through some events like this before,” said Padgett. “We’ve learned from our shortfalls in previous events, and we’ve always done debriefings to determine what we could have done better following events like this. We’re going to prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.”
Emergency shelters will be available to residents in need throughout the weekend.
“The Tabernacle Baptist Church will be a shelter, and will have showers, food, breakfast and evening, and will also have clothing,” said Capt. Chris Dobbs of the Carrollton Police Department. “Right now they have about 20 beds, but they’ll be adding more.”
Precautions are also being taken to ensure the safety of drivers across Carroll County. County officials said measures have been taken to ensure safe transport of residents in the event of emergencies.
“We have our Humvees ready, and all our four wheeled vehicles ready to transport people in the event of any emergencies,” said Carroll County Sheriff Terry Langley. “We will also be calling in advisories to the roads department to let them know if a road is getting slick, or if ice is developing on our bridges.”
Meteorologists say snow could begin to melt on Saturday, but will quickly re-freeze Saturday afternoon as temperatures fall into the lower 20’s. Officials expect travel conditions to be extremely dangerous for the remainder of the weekend.