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Schools closing early with threat of snow, ice
0107weather
Sid Grant, owner of Grant Garden Group, assesses the fountain Wednesday in front of the North Patient Tower at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center. The fountain froze overnight because of the low temperatures. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Updated list of weather-related closings and cancellations

Winter weather tips

Emergency contacts for winter weather

Today: Rain and snow likely after 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 41. Calm wind becoming west between 5 and 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

Tonight: A chance of snow, mainly before 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 21. West wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.

Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 30. West wind around 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. 

Area schools are releasing students early today in anticipation that snow will fall this afternoon.

(CHECK BACK FOR WEATHER UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE DAY.)

Today holds a 60 percent chance of rain and snow, with precipitation likely to come after 1 p.m., according to the National Weather Service as of press time. The weather service on Wednesday evening was calling for less than a half-inch of snow to fall today.

Gainesville and the Hall, Habersham, Lumpkin and White county school districts will release students at 1 p.m. or earlier.

Hall Superintendent Will Schofield said the decision was made to inform parents of an early dismissal before school started Thursday to minimize confusion. He said the district would rather err on the side of caution and get students home safely before roads become icy in the afternoon.

"The weather just looks overwhelmingly like we’re going to get some snow," he said. "With a system our size, it’s impossible to let parents know effectively if you’re going to send their kids home from a school day early."

Superintendents said the decision on whether to open schools Friday will be made as early as this afternoon.

National Weather Service forecaster Jessica Fieux said a winter weather advisory is in effect from noon to midnight, and drivers should use caution on the roads, especially this evening. Temperatures are expected to dip to 20 degrees, with a 50 percent chance of precipitation.

Schofield said if the Hall district declares Friday a snow day, it may be counted as a teacher furlough day if the state orders more furlough days this semester. Typically a snow day is made up at the end of the school year, but if more furloughs come, then the day will not be made up, he said.

"Certainly if we have any snow days second semester, we will use them as furloughs, but we don’t know what’s going to happen there yet," Schofield said.

While schools are closing early, the doors of area grocery stores are wide open.

Grocery stores have gotten a boon from the inclement weather reports.

"We’ve seen increased traffic since Monday," said Atlanta-area Publix spokeswoman Brenda Reid.

Reid said Publix stocks its stores ahead of time whenever snow is in the forecast.

"We have been preparing for this for about 10 days," Reid said. "Getting trucks up there when there’s ice and snow on the ground can be difficult."

Publix has been selling lots of breakfast foods, soups and other staples this week.

"We’ve got plenty of milk and bread and eggs," Reid said. "It’s sort of comfort food."

Aside from stocking stores, Publix also checks generators to make sure they will work in case power outages occur during a snow storm.

"Right now we are sort of waiting on the weather to see what it’s going to do," Reid said.

Gene Beckstein, founder and director of Good News at Noon homeless shelter, said he expects quite a crowd will come to escape the freezing weather this evening.

"We never close," Beckstein said.

But Beckstein said around 200 people show up every Thursday night for food and fellowship.

"It’s a great ministry," Beckstein said. "We have good, hot meals."

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