Dan Darbe with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City said during a Tuesday morning briefing that the two rounds of precipitation were now “one long event.”
Bartow remains under a winter storm warning until 1 p.m. Thursday.
Darbe said freezing temperatures by 3 a.m. today will cause wet surfaces to become icy and create hazardous driving conditions.
Precipitation will change over to a rain-snow-sleet mix in the early hours, with temperatures topping out today just above freezing. By 7 a.m. the majority of precipitation will fall as snow and freezing rain, changing over to snow by midnight and continuing into Thursday morning.
The National Weather Service is calling for 2 to 3 inches of snow and 0.1 to 0.3 of an inch of ice accumulation possible.
According to Darbe, the most dangerous time for downed trees and power lines will be this morning at 8 as sustained winds reach 15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.
On Jan. 23, 2000, the state experienced an ice storm where between a quarter and half an inch of ice left 350,000 without power and brought down trees. East central Georgia could see a “catastrophic” three-quarters of an inch of ice.
“This could be worse,” Darbe said. “I expect it would be.”
Although icy patches were reported Tuesday, area roadways saw little of the havoc snow rained down two weeks ago.
“Georgia [Department of Transportation] in Northwest Georgia has really been ahead of the game with the current winter weather episode. We had a flexible plan that included strategies learned from research, peer exchanges with other states as well as lessons learned from previous winter weather events,” said District Six-Northwest Georgia Communications Officer Mohamed M. Arafa. “In northwest Georgia, including Bartow County, Georgia DOT has been focusing on treating the interstates first. In the Bartow County case, [Interstate-]75 comes first. Second priority is the highest volume state routes like U.S. 41, SR 20, SR 113 and SR 140 in Bartow County. While the Bartow portion of I-75 has been clear, we have been treating icy patches on SR 20 from Floyd County line to State Route 3 in Bartow. We have also treated the bridge on SR 20 over the Etowah River.”
“We still have the road department up and running at full-staff. They are going to continue running the next at least 24 hours. They’re running four big trucks full-time and they also have some pickup trucks out there spreading,” Bartow County Emergency Management Agency Director Paul Cuprowski said. “We’re just monitoring the weather, hoping for the best, that we don’t get too much ice.”
The traffic nightmare metro Atlanta experienced Jan. 28 was avoided this week as officials issued warnings well in advance, with President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared an emergency in Georgia, ordering federal agencies to help with the state and local response. That followed on the heels of Gov. Nathan Deal declaring a state of emergency for 88 counties, including Bartow.
“We are grateful to the public for heeding the weather warning or rather what I call the ‘best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all.’ This has been a big help that has made it a little easier for our crews to get to the impacted roads and do whatever it takes to treat them and keep them open and safe for emergency travel,” Arafa said. “We urge the public to continue this helping hand during the second winter weather event, which is likely to begin [Tuesday night] and continue until perhaps Thursday morning, that is expected to bring more snow and possible freezing rain and ice to north Georgia and metro Atlanta.”
The Georgia State Patrol reported 14 crashes with two injuries in the 24 hours through noon on Tuesday.
Locally, residents have taken to social media to keep up-to-date on road conditions.
Bartow County Road Conditions, a Facebook page, started up in light of this week’s winter weather and featured several photos of area roadways by Tuesday afternoon. The page can be found at https://m.facebook.com/bartowcountyroadconditions.
Travel is not the only concern with the threat of ice looming. Downed trees and power lines could leave residents in the dark.
“We've got our storm center open. It was open yesterday morning and we've got folks working around the clock,” Georgia Power spokesman Brian Green said. “We've got our crews throughout the state on alert, and like I said, we've identified staging areas throughout the state so we'll be able to respond once we get a better idea of how much we'll be impacted by this. We've also reached out to a couple of other utilities in Ohio, Texas and Florida to provide assistance if the outages are as widespread as we think they'll be.”
Cuprowski said state aid arrived Tuesday afternoon.
“The state just sent four representatives with four-wheel drive from the forestry division to be staged here. It is a regional resource — they’re not ours particularly, but if we need them, we can use them. ... I think what they are doing is strategically placing some extra manpower around the state, which makes sense. It’s a good call,” he said.
The county and city of Euharlee at 7 p.m. Tuesday opened warming stations. Bartow County will keep open the Houston Suggs gym until further notice, with Euharlee manning a shelter in the community room at city hall.
Warming stations can be a huge asset to what Cuprowski called his biggest concern — medical patients without power. In addition to those needing power for dialysis, oxygen or medical care, guests must meet certain criteria.
“We can and will try to transport, which means pick them up and drop them off at the warming shelters,” Cuprowski said. “Here’s our prerequisites, for the most part: if somebody has got a medical condition, we will try to do that for them if they don’t have their own way; if it’s elderly and/or special needs; if someone has infants or an infant — of course, we ask them to provide a car seat; and if they’re stranded and from out of town — for example, if they get stranded on the interstate and they can’t move, hopefully we can get to them and pick them and take them to the closest warming station. ... We’re going to do everything in our power to help them.”