ATLANTA, Ga. - Reports of snow and sleet began in north Georgia early Tuesday morning as most of metro Atlanta is under a winter storm watch or warning.
Channel 2's Darryn Moore spotted a mixture of snow, sleet and rain in Floyd County.
School and business closings have been pouring into Channel 2 Action News since Gov. Nathan Deal expanded a state of emergency Monday afternoon, bringing the total to 45 counties under the alert ahead of the approaching winter storm.
The additional counties include: Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Whitfield, Chattooga, Gordon, Floyd, Bartow, Polk, Paulding, Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Barrow, Haralson, Carroll, Douglas, DeKalb, Clarke, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Wilkes, Walton, Rabun, Habersham, Stephens, Franklin, Hart, Madison, Elbert and Lincoln counties.
The governor declared a state of emergency in the following counties earlier Monday: Murray, Fannin, Gilmer, Union, Towns, Pickens, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Cherokee, Forsyth, Hall, Banks and Jackson counties. Deal said at a news conference Monday that he’d expand the order to additional counties as conditions warrant.
The change comes as a cold front moves in Monday ahead of a winter storm watch that has been issued for 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday morning. A winter storm warning has been issued for northern counties, which might see 1 to 3 inches of snow.
Severe Weather Team 2 has been tracking every step of the evolving system expected to bring a mixture of ice, sleet and snow to much of north counties and spread to metro Atlanta.
Severe Weather Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns says we will see a cold rain turn into a wintry mix of rain/sleet/snow begin in northweast Georgia starting around 3 a.m.
This wintry mix will continue to move east, mainly north of I-20 through the morning and then taper off around 11 a.m. The rain begins again around 10 p.m. Wednesday night. The rain will turn into sleet/snow/freezing rain all across north Georgia overnight and continue into pre-dawn hours of Thursday.
Severe Weather Team 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz is tracking clouds and spotty showers in the forecast Monday evening. A wintry mix of snow and cold rain will soak the metro area on Tuesday morning. Residents south of Atlanta can expect mostly rain as a wintry mix will fall in the north corner. The wintry conditions will continue through late morning and taper off late in day followed by significant icing late Tuesday into Wednesday.
Fulton County and Cobb County school officials have joined the metro school systems canceling classes Tuesday and Wednesday in anticipation of the impending winter storm. Atlanta Public Schools was the first school system Monday to call off classes. DeKalb County Schools followed suit a few minutes later, canceling Tuesday classes. Forsyth County School, Marietta City School and Paulding County School officials also announced Tuesday closures.
Emory University officials also announced that classes would be canceled Tuesday. (Click here for an updated list of closings.)
Deal, joined by Mayor Kasim Reed and GEMA officials, warned of icy roads and declared their proactive efforts after the icy gridlock that embarrassed Georgia in late January.
And while Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport officials said the airport would remain “open and fully operational this week,” Delta Air Lines is waiving certain change fees for travelers scheduled to fly Tuesday through Thursday from or through Atlanta and other southeastern airports. Delta announced Monday night that they have canceled more than 500 flights on Tuesday because of the storm.
Deal encouraged residents in the storm’s path to “be off the road by early evening” Monday as transportation crews prepare the roads. Deal also asked tractor-trailers, which caused mayhem during the January storm, to steer clear of I-285.
The governor convened his emergency response team at 11 a.m. Monday, including executives from hospitals and utility companies. Deal said he was particularly worried about the “devastating” impact of ice dragging down power lines.
GEMA is urging all Georgians to prepare now for the upcoming storm. Here are more things you can do to be prepared.