Forecast calls for 5 to 7 inches of snow, makes comparison to '93 storm
by Jessica Loeding
Jan 09, 2011 | 4538 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The winter snowstorm of 1993 brought beautiful scenery, but left havoc on the area as power lines were down and people were unable to get about for a couple of days. Forecasters say we could be in for an encore presentation starting tonight.
The Daily Tribune News, File
The winter snowstorm of 1993 brought beautiful scenery, but left havoc on the area as power lines were down and people were unable to get about for a couple of days. Forecasters say we could be in for an encore presentation starting tonight. The Daily Tribune News, File
It's being compare to the blizzard in 1993. A low pressure system expected to move through the Gulf of Mexico into the East will bring a strong possibility of snow and freezing rain to the area beginning this evening.

While forecasts vary, most are calling for accumulations of up to 7 inches in the north Georgia area.

According to the National Weather Service Saturday afternoon, snow will begin tonight and linger into Monday afternoon when the precipitation could turn to freezing rain and sleet. Snowfall amounts between 5 and 7 inches are expected north of a line from Rome to Gainesville to Hartwell.

Today's high is expected to be 35, dropping to 26 tonight with a 100 percent chance of snow. Monday calls for a 90 percent chance of precipitation - snow before 1 p.m., turning to freezing rain and sleet - with a high of only 32. Wintery precip should trail off by Tuesday morning.

City and county officials have been in contact with the NWS throughout the weekend.

Cartersville Fire Chief Scott Carter said his department on Friday took part in a briefing with the NWS and would continue meetings through the weekend as more information on the developing storm became available.

Bartow County Fire Department Battalion Chief Bryan Cox said county leaders sat down Friday and looked over resources and equipment.

"We sat down and looked at resources, where four-wheel drive vehicles are, started earlier checking everything, topping off like we do on all indications we may have inclement weather," he said, adding that BCFD has in place a contingency plan. "We will call in additional personnel that way we are not trying to get them in during the storm."

Carter said the city also has contingency plans instituted.

"Bobby Elliott [director of Cartersville Public Works] ... has just been feverishly working to get equipment ready, preplanning," he said.

Both Cox and Carter said the upside to the forecast is the prediction that the storm will be an all-snow event for Bartow County.

With an all-snow storm, the chances of downed trees and power lines drop along with a decrease in the probability of power outages. Travel, however, still is discouraged unless absolutely necessary.

"Of course if we have a significant event, if you do not have to travel, don't," Carter said. "Everyone at home may be homebound for a day or two."

Residents should take measures to be prepared by stocking food and water; medications; flashlights; batteries; and first aid kits.

Assistant Director of Cartersville Public Works Jeff Geisen said expectations are that the approaching storm will "be a lot like the one in 1993."

Dubbed the Storm of the Century, the cyclonic storm that roared through 26 states, Cuba and Canada on March 12-13, 1993, left 310 people dead. Unique for its size, intensity and far-reaching effects, the blizzard dumped 6 to 8 inches of snow in Georgia, bringing with it hurricane-force winds.

"We all learned our lessons in 1993. We don't want to repeat that," said Carter of the superstorm that was predicted as early as March 8.

CFD Capt. Tim McClung recalled the early '90s event.

"I worked 96 straight hours that weekend so I know it well," he said. "We are certainly being very proactive, looking at what the projections are and how to allocate our resources. You've got to be able to use what you have efficiently."

BCFD Battalion Chief Bryan Keeling hopes this time will be different from the storm almost 18 years ago.

"As much snow as we had in 1993, everything was pretty much forced to shut down. We are getting more warning this time ... We are just waiting to see what happens. The forecast [today] will give us a better idea."

Keeling said Saturday afternoon the latest models were calling for the storm to arrive between 10 p.m. and midnight.

For emergency personnel, an overnight arrival will be beneficial in that most people are home, resulting in fewer accidents and fewer people being stranded on roadways.

Cox said preparations should put BCFD is an optimal position.

"The good thing about it is we've gone through a lot of prep sessions. From a management side ... this is a great drill; if we don't need it, great, but if we do, we're not playing catch up," Cox said. "We're actually ahead of the ball instead of behind it."

Exactly how that ball will bounce remains to be seen. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service statement said because the storm remained 24 hours out, deviations were expected, with more or less "winter impacts" possible.

Being prepared is advantageous, but the potential for overexposure remains.

"I really don't want this to turn into the situation of the little boy who cried wolf," Carter said.

The fire chief reiterated the need for fire safety during the days to come. With the use of auxiliary heating, the possibility for fires increases.

"I really have to stress, stress, stress safety," he said.

Those using additional heating elements should provide good ventilation, refuel heaters outside the home and follow safety guidelines.

Regardless of what happens, Carter said, "Cartersville Fire Department is standing by and ready."