Updated 10:36 p.m.
The commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation at 10 p.m. Tuesday updated the weather forecast and asked that the public stay off the roads.
“This is a very dangerous ice storm and we strongly encourage the public to stay off the roads unless it is an extreme emergency, to allow us to do our work” said commissioner Keith Golden.
The press release states that the latest weather predictions call for a catastrophic ice storm that could include "extreme black ice," seven or more inches of snow across North Georgia, freezing rain with up to 1 inch of ice accumulation north and south of the I-20 corridor, and 20-30 mph winds that increase the threat for "widespread downed limbs, trees and power lines."
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency is advising the public to use flashlights for emergency lighting if there is a loss of electric service rather than candles; to use kerosene heaters only in well-ventilated areas; to keep flammable objects away from space heaters; and to remember to disconnect or turn off appliances that were in use when the power went out.
It was in a briefing before noon Tuesday that National Weather Service meteorologists first warned state and local emergency management officials that the sustained, 30-hour winter blast could turn into a “catastrophic event.”
“They are saying they went back to the January 2000 event when the region had quarter- to a half-inch of ice, and this event could be worse than that,” said Penny Clack, the emergency management coordinator for Barrow County.
“We could have 3-5 inches of combined snow and ice, and we want people to get off the roads,” she said.
Winds are expected to be brisk during the storm, increasing the probability of heavy icing on trees and power lines. In the 2000 ice storm, metro Atlanta residents and businesses lost power for days.
Pat Graham, chairman of the Barrow County Board of Commissioners, at 1:18 p.m. Tuesday issued a "Declaration of Local Emergency." Gov. Nathan Deal and President Barack Obama also have issued state and federal declarations.
“This is to let people know how serious of an event this is,” Clack said. “And it opens up opportunities for the county to get additional resources from the state if we need to.”
Barrow County manager Randall Dowling closed county government offices at 3 p.m. Tuesday and they will remain closed both Wednesday and Thursday.
WINDER GARBAGE SERVICE IMPACTED
Barrow County schools also were closed Wednesday, with all school-related activities and meetings canceled or postponed, according to an announcement Tuesday afternoon by school superintendent Wanda Creel.
"As conditions develop, we will determine when it is safe to resume school," she said.
Tuesday's meetings of the school board and BOC have been canceled. The BOC's next meeting is Feb. 25.
Winder's city government announced late Tuesday afternoon that Waste Management will not provide garbage pickup on Wednesday. Customers typically scheduled for Wednesday collections should put out their cans instead on Thursday. And customers who usually have garbage picked up on Thursdays and Fridays should follow their normal routines, though the trucks might be late or not arrive until the following day. Saturday service is anticipated for anyone not reached by Friday.
GDOT mobilizing to deal with forecast of 'extreme black ice,' a half-foot of snow, and an inch of ice
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