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Snow, sleet to continue Monday; freezing rain possible
Storm could also produce ice, chance for area power outages
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School closings

Storm sends Deal inauguration indoors

Winter weather tips, contacts

Send us your photos. If the snow falls Monday, send your snow pictures to news@gainesvilletimes.com. We'll create an online photo gallery of the best pictures.

National Weather Service forecast

 Advisories: A winter storm warning has been issued by the National Weather Service; a travel advisory has been issued by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Road conditions:

According to the DOT, at 4:30 a.m., roads below are experiencing extremely slippery conditions with some parts currently impassable.

  • Hall, Ga. 11 northbound, Lawson Road
  •  Hall, Ga. 347 at I-985
  •  Hall, Ga. 11, Smallwood Road
  •  Hall, Ga. 347, Friendship Road
  •  Towns, Ga. 180 eastbound and westbound at mile post 0-.2.45
  •  White, Ga. 348 eastbound and westbound, milepost 0-7.03
  •  Union, Ga. 348 eastbound and westbound, milepost 0-3.5
  •  Banks, Ga. 323 eastbound, east of Bennett Creek Road

Updates: For weather updates, plus updated school closings, visit gainesvilletimes.com, throughout the day. Traveling to work, school or anywhere may be dangerous today as a major snow storm blows through Georgia.

Heavy snow in Northeast Georgia is expected to continue throughout the day Monday, and become mix with sleet and, possibly freezing rain.

Area emergency officials began bracing Sunday for the weather system, which is expected to dump as much as 4-6 inches of snow in Hall County today, with larger amounts expected in North Hall.

Residents also can expect up to a quarter-inch of ice, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

"If we do have the storm that is predicted," said Col. Jeff Strickland, Hall Sheriff's Office spokesman, "we would urge everyone to stay in. If you have an emergency and have to get out, just use extreme caution."

A winter storm warning issued Sunday was expected to stay in effect until 7 p.m. today.

Forecasters expected the snow and ice to turn to "freezing drizzle" by tonight. Temperatures are expected to remain in the 20s all day, with winds gusts up to 20 mph.

Strickland was quick to point out that the last storm that passed through the area, one that dumped snow on Christmas Day, the sheriff's office worked more than 100 wrecks in about a 12-hour overnight period.

"It's really not worth risking your life or damaging your vehicle to get out in the snow, if you do not have to," he said.

Area authorities began bracing early Sunday for the coming storm.

In a meeting at the Hall Emergency Services Complex on Crescent Drive Sunday afternoon, authorities listened as the National Weather Service gave the latest updates.

Hearing that the weather system could begin to affect Hall County about midnight, officials decided they would not mobilize until about then.

David Kimbrell, Hall County Fire Services chief and also Hall's emergency management director, said he was concerned that "if people do make it to work in (this) morning, are they going to be able to make it home (in the evening), after all of the snow falls?"

Gainesville and Hall County authorities said Sunday they plan to have extra personnel on standby, as needed.

Jon Canada, Gainesville's fire chief, said preparation has even included making sure enough fuel is available for chainsaws in the event they are needed to deal with fallen trees.

Trees falling on power lines can cause outages.

"If your power goes off, make sure you're smart about alternative heating sources," Canada said.

One thing he and Scott Cagle, Hall County's fire marshal, stress is those with a generator - a common purchase over the weekend - use it properly, meaning keeping it outdoors, at least 10 feet from the house.

Superintentendents at area school systems decided at 4 p.m. Sunday to close schools, with school officials saying the weather forecast seemed certain enough to make such an early call.

Colleges, including Brenau University in Gainesville and Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, also decided to close early.

Snowfall in the Georgia mountains could pile up to 4-6 inches by Monday night. Some areas of extreme Northeast Georgia, including Lumpkin and Habersham counties, could receive more than 7 inches.

The storm is expected to cover the entire state, with a wintry mix forecast well into South Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has issued a travel advisory for today. Officials have asked those who don't need to drive in Middle and North Georgia areas, especially, to stay home.

DOT Spokeswoman Teri Pope said people should be mindful of gathering the supplies they need before the winter weather hits.

Pope has said DOT crews will working on clearing interstates first and then four-lane state routes.

The storm has altered plans for Monday's inauguration of Hall County's Nathan Deal as governor. The event will move into the House chamber, with a morning prayer event and evening gala canceled.

The storm threat had residents stocking up for supplies at area stores. Publix manager Bob Arroyo has heard his customers' concerns about the winter storm.

"They're talking about it - ‘I got to get here before the snow hits,' " he said.

Patrons were buying staples such as bread, milk, beef, fruits, vegetables and water from the supermarket on Thompson Bridge Road. Purchases increased over the weekend, Arroyo said, and the shelves got a little low before supply trucks came Saturday night.

"It's about like Christmas all over again, the buying habits," Arroyo said.

Jeff Hylton, 41, of Gainesville, picked up a few items with his sons, Brooks and Bennett, 9 and 6, just in case. But Hylton wasn't too concerned about getting snowed in.

"I'm not really worried about it," he said. "We'll keep each other warm."

The Hyltons have a new tradition to keep them occupied when bad weather prevents leaving the house.

"Last time it snowed we made homemade ice cream," Hylton said.

Not everyone was stocking up on supplies. Originally from New York, Harry Harron, 61, of Gainesville, thought the hype about the snow was a little, well, ridiculous.

"I've lived in the North and I've driven on the road with 12 inches of snow," he said.

Staff writer Lauren Blais contributed to this story.

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