The storm Georgians have been waiting for is here, and meteorologists say it will be even worse than expected. The Interstate 20 cor Gov. Nathan Deal is continuing to urge Georgians to stay off the roads Wednesday. Speaking at a noon press conference at the state Capitol, he said his main concern about the weather is that Georgians will think the winter storm moving through the state has peaked and will leave their homes.
As Georgia hunkers down under a veil of ice, snow and freezing temperatures, state government is largely closed for the rest of the week. It’s the second winter storm in two weeks to hit the state, and after the last blast’s two inches of snow laid low the Atlanta region, state officials aren’t taking any chances. By midday Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal had placed 89 of the state’s 159 counties – or more than half of Georgia – under a state of emergency. The area encompasses nearly all of North Georgia.
State and local officials were working overtime Monday to prepare for this week’s forecast winter storm. As of 1 p.m. Monday, 45 of the state’s 159 counties were under a state of emergency, though no precipitation had begun. Gov. Nathan Deal toured GDOT’s salt facility Monday afternoon, and in Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed said he had doubled the pre-treatment operation to 60 spreading vehicles, thanks to contracts with private companies.
During a briefing Monday afternoon, Gov. Deal expanded the state of emergency from 31 to 45 north Georgia counties as the state expects a two-part winter storm. “We are facing two different waves of bad weather. The first one will come in this evening. And it will be followed by a second wave that at this time appears to be more serious than the first,” said Deal. Deal says the state’s emergency operations center will be open at 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, and Tuesday will include a liberal leave policy for state employees.