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.
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.
State leaders want Georgia to be prepared the next time an emergency hits, but some lawmakers say better preparation may come with a hefty price. State Senator Jason Carter says Georgia’s governor needs more power in an emergency. The Decatur Democrat took to the well of the state senate Friday to address the state’s handling of two inches of snow that gridlocked interstates Tuesday and left thousands of people stranded.
Governor Nathan Deal has extended the winter storm state of emergency through Sunday night. Thursday, the governor extended the state of emergency for two additional days in order to assure all necessary resources are available for state agencies and local governments to clear roads and any additional storm-related obstacles. In a statement released Thursday evening, Deal says he has directed state government employees to report to their workplaces at regular hours on Friday, unless doing so puts them in harm’s way.
Emergency responders have been focusing Thursday on getting abandoned cars off the road. According to the Georgia Emergency Management System (GEMA) drivers left behind more than 2,000 cars during the storm. For Barbara Anderson, the nightmare is almost over. The Georgia National Guard is helping her find her Pontiac after she abandoned it on the side of highway 285. “It was horrible. I still can’t get over the last two days. I couldn’t wait to get out of there,” said Anderson. Anderson says she left her home in Stone Mountain Tuesday afternoon headed to work in Dunwoody, but she never made it.
The snow is melting, the ice is retreating and stranded cars are finally leaving Georgia’s motorways. But the blame game is just getting started, and the stakes are high enough to rival Sunday’s Super Bowl. Two inches of snow brought metro Atlanta to a standstill Tuesday and much of Wednesday. And now people want to know why – the thousands of Georgians who abandoned their cars and whose children had to sleep overnight at their schools. You know, people who vote.
The winter storm that hit the city of Atlanta and the surrounding metro areas Tuesday afternoon has inspired acts of kindness from Georgians around the state. After the icy storm left more than thousands of people stuck in their cars gridlocked on metro Atlanta freeways, people took to social media to spread the word about the stranded commuters.
In a press conferences Wednesday morning, the state's top officials apologized for decisions they made during the winter storm that placed the city of Atlanta in a gridlock. However, Gov. Nathan Deal and Kasim Reed agree shutting down Atlanta early would not have been the right decision.
Gov. Nathan Deal has signed a state of emergency declaration for the entire state of Georgia. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Deal urged Georgians who have to drive to use extreme caution while on the roads. "Once at your destination, if at all possible, please stay off the roads until conditions improve. State DOT crews will work around the clock to get roads clear; in addition, the National Guard, the Department of Public Safety and GEMA will work to get the state back to normal as quickly as possible.”
A winter storm watch has been issued for most of Georgia from Rome to Gainesville south. Meteorologist George Wetzel with the National Weather Service says wet weather from the Gulf will meet up with arctic air coming down from the north starting Tuesday and running into Wednesday morning. He says an oval running across the state in middle Georgia will see the most snow. “That is going to be north of a line from LaGrange to Macon, to the east of there toward Dublin, and south of the Atlanta metro. So that’s about 3 to 4 inches there.” In southern Georgia, the oval will start as sleet and freezing rain, and the coast will also see sleet and flurries.