As the sun rises in the eastern sky this morning, the snow could begin falling and last much of the day.
Gainesville should see anywhere from 1 to 3 inches of snow accumulate on the ground today, said Robert Beasley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. The amount of snow that falls is based on a number of factors, including temperature and the amount of moisture.
"Snow forecasting, especially in the South, is very difficult," Beasley said.
The majority of the snow is expected to fall from about 9 a.m. and start tapering off about 2 p.m., he said. Beasley said he doubts any of the snow will cause a problem on Gainesville's main roadways.
"The ground is probably warm enough that it won't accumulate on the roads," Beasley said.
Still, the Georgia Department of Transportation sent home first shift employees Friday with instructions to return at midnight. Instead of their regular eight hours, the DOT will pull 12-hour shifts, spraying salt and stone on the roads that need it, until the snow and ice clear.
The DOT has two shifts of 110 trucks monitoring more than 2,500 centerline miles of state roads and interstates in 21 Northeast Georgia counties, said Teri Pope, communications officer for the DOT.
At noon today, the second shift of DOT trucks, equipped with snow plows, will hit the roads, making sure all of them are safe enough to drive.
The DOT only uses second-shift work during snow and ice events, Pope said.
To counter Wednesday night's snow and ice, the DOT spread about 766 tons of stone and 347 tons of salt on Northeast Georgia's roadways.
The remaining snow may turn into ice tonight as an arctic cold front hits and temperatures drop below freezing, Beasley said, but the skies should be clear through Monday.
"It won't be much above freezing on Sunday," Beasley said. "It'll be windy and cold although it will be clear."
Pope said snow is easier to deal with than ice. North Georgia's asphalt is porous to help rain water absorb quicker, but it can make dealing with ice difficult for the DOT.
Still, with as much as three inches of snow expected in Gainesville and temperatures dipping down into the teens Sunday and Monday, the DOT is prepared for a big weekend.
Although there will be less precipitation north of Gainesville, mountain roads are more likely to be affected by the weekend's low temperatures, Beasley said.
As of Friday afternoon, only two roads had been closed in the area. Ga. 180 Spur, the road that leads up to Brasstown Bald, and Ga. 348 at Hogpen Gap have been closed to traffic since Wednesday afternoon. Pope says those roads will likely stay closed until next week.