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North Georgia under winter weather advisory

POSTED: January 17, 2013 4:06 p.m.

Northeast Georgia is under a winter weather advisory issued by the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

Accumulations of 1 to 3 inches of snow and black ice are possible across Northeast Georgia, with possibly more in the mountains tonight into Friday morning, the weather service said. Rain and snow is predicted before 11 p.m. in Hall County, then a slight chance of snow between 11 p.m. and midnight.

"Rain will mix with and change over to snow across portions of North and Central Georgia late this afternoon and evening. The heaviest snowfall will be in the North Georgia mountains," according to the advisory.

The weather service expects the brunt of the storm to hit north of a line from Carrollton to Atlanta to Jefferson.

"Light snowfall accumulations (of) up to 1 inch are possible on roadways across higher elevations in the mountains," the weather service said. "Black ice is likely across the watch area (tonight) and Friday morning when temperatures fall below (freezing)."

Gainesville and Hall County school officials said they would be monitoring the weather before deciding whether to close on Friday.

"If snow or ice materialize, we will be in contact with emergency personnel and neighboring districts throughout the night (Thursday)," Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said. He said the system will try to decide by 6 a.m. whether to have classes.

"We will monitor throughout the evening on Thursday, check the roads early Friday a.m., and make a decision before 6 a.m.," said Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials are urging the public to plan ahead before traveling from this afternoon through Friday morning.

"We are continuously monitoring current weather conditions and forecasts as snow flurries and high winds are predicted for North Georgia. Weather forecasts indicate snow, black ice, fallen trees and damaged traffic signals are possible from (this) evening through Friday morning. Before you head out on the roads tomorrow, please check the weather and road conditions," DOT Commissioner Keith Golden said.

"Wind gusts up to 15 miles per hour are possible and weather reports call for slight accumulations of snow in the higher elevations of the mountains. We encourage all motorists to stay off the roadways if possible," DOT Operations Manager Meg Pirkle said. "If you must be on the roads, please slow down, engage the lower gear of your vehicle for additional traction and use extreme caution particularly as you approach bridges. If you approach a traffic signal that is dark with no color lit then treat the intersection as a four way stop by waiting your turn to move. If the signal flashes yellow then cautiously proceed through the intersection. If the signal flashes red then stop and wait for a safe time, clear of crossing traffic, to proceed."

DOT has added the capability of making liquid salt, which it expects to speed the melting of ice on roads and bridges.

"This is the first winter we have had the capability to make liquid salt," Pirkle said. "This season will be a pilot project using the liquid salt with solid salt and stone to test its effectiveness. We believe it will start the chemical process more quickly, speeding up the melting process on our roads and bridges."



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