South prepares for weekend threat of debilitating snow, ice

ATLANTA — Weather forecasters’ predictions of debilitating snow and ice as far south as Georgia despatched components of the area right into a tizzy Friday with buyers scouring retailer cabinets for storm provides and street crews making an attempt to forestall a repeat of previous wintertime debacles.

In Virginia, the place a blizzard left 1000’s of motorists trapped on clogged highways earlier this month, Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and urged folks to take the approaching storm severely. Some retailer cabinets have been stripped naked of necessities together with bread and milk in North Carolina.

Trucks ready to spray a briny combination on roads to forestall icing throughout the area, and Travis Wagler stated he hadn’t seen such a run on provides at his Abbeville, South Carolina, ironmongery shop in at the very least two winters.

“We’re promoting every little thing you would possibly count on: sleds, but in addition salt, shovels and firewood,” Wagler stated from Abbeville Hardware. There, forecasters predict a quarter-inch (0.6 centimeters) of ice or extra on timber and energy strains, which might result in days without electrical energy.

“People are fearful,” Wagler stated.

The National Weather Service stated from 2 inches (5 centimeters) to five inches (12.7 centimeters) of snow might fall as far south as northeast Georgia from Saturday night although Sunday, and energy outages and journey issues will probably be made all the more serious by a further coating of ice and winds gusting to 35 mph (56 km/h). Snow accumulations might attain 8 inches (20 centimeters) within the highest elevations.

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp stated the state was making ready “to the max” for the blast.

“Hopefully, the storm will underdeliver, but it surely might overdeliver. We simply don’t know,” he stated.

Parts of Tennessee might get as a lot as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow, forecasters stated, and northern Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley area of Alabama might obtain mild snow accumulations. With lows predicted within the 20s throughout a large space, any precipitation might freeze and make driving troublesome.

On Friday, the fast-moving storm dropped heavy snow throughout a big swath of the Midwest, the place journey circumstances deteriorated and scores of colleges closed or moved to online instruction.

A winter storm watch prolonged from simply north of metro Atlanta to Arkansas within the west and Pennsylvania within the north, overlaying components of 10 states together with Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Travel issues might lengthen into metro Atlanta, the place about 2 inches (5 centimeters) of snow introduced visitors to a slip-sliding halt in 2014, an occasion nonetheless referred to as “Snowmaggedon.”

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At Dawsonville Hardware about 60 miles (97 km) north of Atlanta, proprietor Dwight Gilleland stated he was already out heaters by midday Friday and solely had 5 luggage of salt and sand left.

“I believe the pandemic has made folks extra anxious than regular,” he stated.

The metropolis of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, needed to borrow staff from different departments to assist deal with roads forward of the storm as a result of COVID-19 had precipitated a scarcity of staff, spokesman Randy Britton stated. Even volunteers pitched in to assist as town stepped up its regular schedule of making ready for winter climate, he stated.

“We really feel actual good about the place we’re,” he stated. “We’ve checked the bins.”

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed an emergency order and the administration urged folks to remain at dwelling after the storm hits. The state freeway company warned that labor shortages meant crews may not reply to issues areas as rapidly as regular.

“We simply don’t have as many individuals to drive the vans or function the gear,” stated Marcus Thompson, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

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Many colleges and businesses will probably be closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. vacation, which might assist scale back journey issues together with temperatures which might be presupposed to rise into the 40s.

Pam Thompson, who owns Dillard House Stables in north Georgia’s Rabun County, was close to the bullseye of the biggest snow forecast. She was gathering feed and hay for about 40 horses in case the snow and ice would not make a quick departure.

“We have snow yearly up right here within the mountains and it will likely be anyplace from 6 to eight inches, and it’s often gone fairly quick,” Thompson stated. “What I’m seeing on the forecast is that it’s going to be actually chilly subsequent week, so the snow could not go away as rapidly as regular.”

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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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