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Northeast Ga. mountains brace for snow, ice, high winds

POSTED: October 29, 2012 11:26 p.m.

As the nation’s Northeastern corridor tries to cope with superstorm Sandy, Northeast Georgia also is feeling its effects.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning through this morning for several counties in the northeast Georgia mountains.

The National Weather Service said the combination of Sandy and high pressure building south from Canada is the cause of the gusty winds. Forecasters say wind gusts of up to 55 mph are possible in Lumpkin, Towns, Union and White counties.

The Georgia Department of Transportation warned motorists in mountainous areas to exercise caution, with snow, black ice, fallen trees and damaged traffic signals possible.

The National Weather Service at Peachtree City forecast “a slight chance of rain and snow showers before 8 a.m., then a chance of rain showers,” for Blairsville.

That forecast also calls for a 20 percent chance of showers before 2 a.m. Wednesday with a high of 48 and a low around 32 and 15-25 mph winds. Gusts could reach 40 mph.

In Gainesville, the winds should be about 5 mph less, and the temperatures a few degrees higher, with a high of 52 and low of 35.

“We are continuously monitoring current weather conditions and forecasts as snow flurries and extremely high winds are predicted for Northeast Georgia. Snow, black ice, fallen trees and damaged traffic signals are possible through tomorrow morning. Before you head out on the roads (today) please check the weather and road conditions, especially if you live or travel to mountainous areas,” said Bayne Smith, the DOT’s Northeast Georgia District Engineer.

DOT cited as possible trouble spots:

  • Bridges as black ice forms there first and can reform quickly.
  • Highest elevations or gaps in Dawson, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties.
  • Fallen trees as root systems are weak because of the drought and high winds are expected.
  • Traffic signals may not be operating because of power outages.
  • High-profile vehicles, such as SUVs, will be difficult to control in high winds.

“Winds gusts up to 50 miles per hour are possible and weather reports call for slight accumulations of snow in the higher elevations of the mountains,” Smith said. “So we encourage all motorists to stay off the roadways if possible. If you must be on the roads, please exercise extreme caution particularly at higher elevations and as you approach bridges.”

DOT will monitor conditions overnight and respond as needed based on information from local law enforcement and information from the National Weather Service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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