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Forecaster: Conditions perfect for snow on Thursday
DOT warns drivers to be cautious
Toby Hawn walks with daughter Elizabeth, 5, after picking her up Tuesday from Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy. Temperatures will remain low for the rest of this week, with a chance of snow Thursday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

There’s a good chance that Northeast Georgia will be covered in snow Thursday.

Forecaster Mike Leary of the National Weather Service said Tuesday that there is a 40 percent chance of snow in Gainesville, Dahlonega and Cleveland.

If predictions are correct, conditions will be just right for snow.

“We’re having what’s called a perfect storm,” Leary said. “Warm, moist air coming up from the Gulf (of Mexico) intersecting a cold front coming up from the Midwest.”

How much snow will depend on the amount of moist air that comes our way.

“It’s really influenced by how much of the actual gulf moisture gets into the state,” Leary said. “Right now, the current system we have is 2 to 3 inches up in the mountains and in the Gainesville-area half an inch to 2 inches.”

Leary said the top half of the state is likely to see some snow this week.

“Right now it’s extending into a line from Troup County to Monroe County, over to Warren County. That’s where the snow line is going to cut off,” Leary said. “Anything south of that line, they’ll see a few flakes. It’s not going to stick; it’s not going to cause any problems.”

Though snow is expected in a large area, heavy accumulation is only expected in the northern-most counties.

“The most will be in the isolated pockets up in the mountains,” Leary said.

Temperatures will stay cold through the weekend, dropping to a low of 14 degrees Friday.

“The real coldest day will be Friday. We’ll see some gradual warming to more seasonal temperatures after Friday,” Leary said.

Spokeswoman Teri Pope said the Georgia Department of Transportation will be on hand to take care of any issues on state routes Thursday.

During the winter months, crews refuel dump trucks each night and attach snow plows to the front and machines to the back that can spread salt and stones onto snowy roads.

“It gives you traction on the roadway,” Pope said.

For a 21-county area, the DOT has 110 trucks with snow plow attachments, 94 spreaders, 4,982 tons of salt and 2,619 tons of stone ready.

“We work two 12-hour shifts,” Pope said. “So, if needed, we’ll be ready at a moment’s notice.”

Pope said when the roads are covered with ice and snow there are many more hazards. People who do not need to drive should avoid going out on the roads.

She recommended drivers slow down to at least half their normal speed and maintain a greater distance between cars.

“If you’ve got room between you and the person in front of you, you’ve got more time to recover,” Pope said.

Bridges can also be especially dangerous in winter weather.

“Cold air can get all the way around them, and they’re colder than the roadway because of that,” Pope said.