ATLANTIA Weather forecasters’ forecasts of debilitating snow and ice as far south as Georgia caused parts of the region to experience a dizzying Friday with shoppers scouring store shelves for storm supplies and road workers trying to prevent a repeat of previous winter debacles.
In Virginia, where a snow storm started thousands of motorists stuck on congested highways earlier this month, Governor Ralph Northam state of emergency declared and urged people to take the approaching storm seriously. Some store shelves were stripped of essentials, including bread and milk in North Carolina.
Trucks were preparing to spray a salty mixture on roads to prevent ice buildup in the region, and Travis Wagler said he hadn’t seen such a run on 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,” said Wagler of Abbeville Hardware. There, forecasters predict 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.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster has issued an emergency order stating that the state is likely to feel the effects of the major winter storm that begins Sunday morning.
“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 National Weather Service said from 2 inches (5 centimeters) to 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) of snow could fall as far south as northeast Georgia from Saturday evening to Sunday, and power outages and travel problems will be made worse by an additional coating. of ice and wind with gusts up to 35 mph (56 km/h). Snow accumulations can reach 20 centimeters at the highest elevations.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said the state was preparing “to the utmost” for the blast. He declared a state of emergency late Friday, saying the focus of concern was in the northern part of Georgia, starting north of the east-west Interstate 20 route.
“Hopefully the storm will deliver below par, but it can deliver more. We just don’t know,” he 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, any precipitation could freeze and make driving difficult.
On Friday, the fast moving storm heavy snow fell across much of the Midwest, where travel conditions deteriorated and dozens of schools were closed or switched to online education.
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 60 miles north of Atlanta, owner Dwight Gilleland said he had gone out of heat 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 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 at home after the storm hit. 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 Marcus Thompson, a spokesperson for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
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.
Pam Thompson, owner of Dillard House Stables in northern Georgia’s Rabun County, was near the biggest snow forecast. She was gathering fodder and hay for about 40 horses in case the snow and ice didn’t leave soon.
“We have snow here in the mountains every year and it will be somewhere between 6 and 8 inches, and it usually clears up pretty quickly,” Thompson said. “What I see on the forecast is that it will be very cold next week, so the snow may not clear as quickly as it normally does.”
Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. AP writers Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Sarah Brumfield in Richmond, Virginia; Skip foreman 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.
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Source South prepares for weekend threat of debilitating snow, ice