South braces for big snow storm, ice

ATLANTIA – Forecasts of snow and ice as far south as Georgia have put much of the Southeast on an emergency as customers scoured store shelves for storm supplies and crews rushed to treat highways and roads as a major winter storm approached from the Midwest .

In Virginia, where a snow storm started thousands of motorists stuck on congested highways earlier this month, outgoing Governor Ralph Northam state of emergency declared and urged people to take the approaching storm seriously.

In North Carolina, some store shelves were stripped of essentials, including bread and milk.

Elsewhere, trucks began spraying a salt mixture on hundreds of miles of highways and other roads to prevent icing in the region.

Travis Wagler said he hadn’t seen such a stockpile of supplies in at least two winters at his hardware store in Abbeville, South Carolina.

“We sell everything you’d expect: sleds, as well as salt, shovels and firewood,” Wagler said Friday of Abbeville Hardware. That region faced forecasts of a quarter inch (0.6 centimeters) of ice or more on trees and power lines, which could lead to days without electricity.

“People are concerned,” Wagler said.

Parts of Tennessee could get up to 6 inches of snow, forecasters said, and northern Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley region of Alabama could see light snowdrifts. With lows predicted in the 1920s across a wide area, precipitation could freeze, making driving difficult or even dangerous.

The fast-moving storm already had heavy snow fell across much of the Midwest, where travel conditions deteriorated and dozens of schools were closed or switched to online education.

The storm, after its expected weekend dip in the southeast, would then move to the northeast as snow, sleet and rain fall around the densely populated east coast.

A winter storm watch stretched from just north of metro Atlanta to Arkansas in the west and Pennsylvania in the north, covering parts of 10 states, including Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Travel problems could extend to metro Atlanta, where about 5 inches of snow brought traffic to a halt in 2014, an event still known as “Snowmaggedon.”

At Dawsonville Hardware, about 95 miles north of Atlanta, owner Dwight Gilleland said he had no heating by noon Friday and only had five bags of salt and sand left.

“I think the pandemic has made people more anxious than usual,” he said.

The National Weather Service said 5 to 5 inches (5 to 13 centimeters) of snow could fall as far as northeast Georgia from Saturday evening through Sunday, and potential power outages and travel problems could be exacerbated by a layer of ice — and wind gusts up to 35 mph (55 kph).

“Hopefully the storm will deliver below par, but it can deliver more. We just don’t know,” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said when announcing storm preparations. He took no chances when he declared a state of emergency and sent the crew began covering major roads and highways in North Georgia.

Governor Henry McMaster of neighboring South Carolina also issued an emergency order, saying the state would likely begin to feel the effects of Sunday morning’s major winter storm.

“There is a potential for very dangerous conditions caused by ice and snow buildup, which will likely result in power outages across the state,” he said.

The city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, had to borrow workers from other departments to help treat roads before the storm because COVID-19 had caused a labor shortage, spokesman Randy Britton said. Even volunteers helped out as the city ramped up its regular schedule of winter weather preparation, he said.

“We feel really good about where we are,” he said. “We checked the boxes.”

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed a distress warrant and the government urged people to stay home once the storm hits. The state highway manager warned that staff shortages meant crews may not respond to problem areas as quickly as normal.

“We just don’t have that many people to drive the trucks or operate the equipment,” said North Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman Marcus Thompson.

Many schools and businesses will be closed Monday due to Martin Luther King Jr.’s vacation, which could help ease travel hassles, along with temperatures reaching into the 1940s.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. AP writers Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Sarah Brumfield in Richmond, Virginia; Tom Foreman Jr. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Jeff Martin in Woodstock, Georgia; Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Source South braces for big snow storm, ice

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