Winter weather threat returns today

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Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 21 counties through Sunday at midnight due to inclement weather arriving today. The governor is monitoring 24 additional counties.Bartow County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Cuprowski and his team will continue to monitor the incoming winter storm as it hits surrounding counties and Bartow County late this afternoon.“Tonight we are expecting some winds and rainfall to come in and that will travel through the 3 to 5 o’clock mark tomorrow afternoon,” Cuprowski said Thursday. “Then there is a good possibility that it will switch over to snow at that point.”Bartow County is on the borderline of some of the more treacherous weather.“Our county is right on the bubble, so if it shifts, we may get a little more or less,” Cuprowski said. “There is nothing definitive about this.“The only thing definitive is there is so much South Georgia is worrying about, including possible tornadoes in the morning, and the front line that’s coming in, Northeast Georgia might see around 6 inches. We are in the middle of all of that stuff,” he said.Although Bartow may see lots of rain and snow in the next few days, Cuprowski is not yet concerned with icy precipitation.“From 5, 6, 7 o’clock Friday night to right around Saturday at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, we expect up to possibly two inches of snow,” Cuprowski said. “Ice did not seem to be a concern at all.”Residents are urged to take precautions as the winter storm hits.“Always worry about power outages,” Cuprowski said. “Make sure you always have enough food and drinks. If it starts to snow, please don’t travel.”“Hopefully a lot of it will be out of here by Sunday night, so just stay around the house and off the roads,” he said. “Let public safety do their jobs and do not create more jobs for us.”For those that are traveling, officials advise motorists to make sure tires are capable of traveling safely in the snow. Local school systems have not announced closings, and Cuprowski believes the snow will not affect school operations.“I have not spoken to the school board yet, but what it looks like, if nothing changes as far as snow goes, it will be after school hours so it will be more of a concern for afterhours events such as basketball or wrestling matches going on this time of year,” Cuprowski said.According to the Bartow County Schools Facebook page, “Due to the fact that Bartow County was not included in the counties named as undergoing a ‘state of emergency’ on Wednesday, we will make up the day missed on Monday, Feb. 15. The time off the week of Feb. 15-19 is listed on the school calendar as "inclement weather make-up days" and was built into the schedule for this type of situation.”Cuprowski said public safety employees will be doing everything they can to make sure roads are safe in the coming days.“On the county’s end, we are doing everything we can to be prepared,” Cuprowski said. “The fire department, EMS and roadside teams will make a decision tomorrow if they will double up their crews and then we will make a decision if we are going to activate the emergency operations center here, so we will know more tomorrow with the weather briefing at 11 o’clock in the morning.”According to a Blood Assurance press release, Blood Assurance will be opening its doors Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in an effort to increase blood donations critically needed for local hospitals. Due to inclement winter weather, Blood Assurance has experienced a severe decrease in blood donations and asks the community to visit the donor center this Saturday to help save local patients’ lives across the region.All donors who make a Saturday donation may choose between a long sleeve “Heroes in Disguise” T-shirt or a limited-edition “Star Wars” Donor Force T-shirt as a thank-you for donating.“Hazardous winter weather means that car wrecks and other traumatic situations are more prone to happen, thereby increasing the need for blood donors, especially those with type O negative blood because it is the universal blood type used in emergency situations,” said vice president of marketing and donor recruitment for Blood Assurance Charlie Callari. “We’ve decided to open our donor center this Saturday to give the community additional time this week to make it to the donor center and help us supply blood to local hospital patients in critical need,” he said.To make a donation, you may visit the Blood Assurance donor center at 921-B Joe Frank Harris Parkway SE, located across from the Cartersville Medical Center behind Dairy Queen and next to Goodwill.To be eligible to donate blood, you must be at least 17 years old (16 years old with parental consent), weigh 110 pounds or more and be in good health. Donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids, avoiding caffeine, and eat a meal that is rich in protein prior to donating. For more information on Blood Assurance, donating blood or hosting a blood drive, call 800-962-0628 or visit www.bloodassurance.org.