‘We’re preparing to the max’ for winter weather, Kemp says
ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - Ahead of winter weather expected this weekend in Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp and other state leaders held a briefing Friday afternoon to keep the public informed of how they are preparing.
Areas north of Interstate 20 are expected to get the brunt of the storm, although a lot could change by Saturday night or Sunday, when the storm is expected to arrive.
The officials several times referred to the storm as a major event that will impact the state in a big way.
Kemp said he and his team have received several briefings and are mobilizing to protect Georgians and assist other states, if needed.
“We’re preparing to the max right now,” Kemp said.
“We’re throwing all the resources that we have available to this right now.”
All the officials urged Georgians to stay home if at all possible starting on Saturday night – to stay off the roads for their own safety and that of emergency responders and crews trying to keep roadways safe for those who do need to travel.
“Be winter-weather aware this weekend,” Kemp urged Georgians.
It was a theme echoed by other officials who appeared with Kemp at the briefing.
James C. Stallings, director of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, said said there was still a lot of uncertainty as of Friday afternoon but he knows for sure that the state will experience a “significant weather event” in at least some parts of Georgia.
He said the advisories could be updated to a warning, including one for an ice storm, as soon as Friday.
He said snowfall 2 to 5 inches is expected in the watch area of north Georgia and some higher elevations could get 8 inches.
A quarter inch of ice is possible in some areas, he said, creating concerns about road travel.
Atlanta could get up to an inch of snow and ice, he said.
He urged anyone who must travel to be very mindful of black ice. If the roadway looks wet, consider it frozen, he said.
He said his major concern is wind gusts up to 35 mph, which could bring down trees and limbs if ice forms on them, causing power outages.
He urged Georgians to sign up for alerts so they can stay aware of the situation.
Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell R. McMurry said at GDOT, “We are preparing for the worst.”
Crews are working to pretreat roadways from Columbus to Jackson to Augusta and everything north of that line, he said.
He said it would take 18 hours to pretreat roadways, and crews will double treat interstates.
The layer of pretreatment materials is intended to help delay the onset of ice, he said.
On Saturday starting around 5 p.m., crews will switch over from pre-emptive treatment to plowing as well as applying salt and gravel to roadways.
He said the agency has 19,500 miles of roadway lanes to be treated and then plowed.
He urged people to stay at home starting Saturday night, then on Sunday and Monday if possible.
“This is an all-hands-on-deck response from GDOT,” he said.
“Stay home, hunker down with those dogs and be prepared.”
Col. Chris Wright, commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, which includes the Georgia State Patrol, encouraged everyone to stay off the roadways.
If you do have to drive, make sure your vehicle is well-prepared he said.
If you go out, pack your vehicle with blankets, charge your cellphone and have flashlights with you, he said.
He said authorities have begun pulling over 100% of commercial vehicles into weigh stations to inform them about the weather outlook.
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