Officials in Georgia look to avoid winter weather repeat

ATLANTA — Roads in Metro Atlanta were noticeably quieter Tuesday morning morning after government officials asked motorists to stay at home if at all possible.

Officials in Georgia are taking no chances in response to the latest threat of winter weather, and many motorists, it seems, heeded the warning.

A wintry mix is slated to hit North Georgia in the predawn hours of Wednesday less than two weeks after two inches of snow paralyzed the region for days. During the last snowfall, wet roadways turned to ice and interstates closed, stranding some commuters for hours.

With that frustrating late January commute still fresh on minds across Atlanta and North Georgia, officials on Monday showed little hesitation in cancelling events. Schools called off classes on Tuesday and Wednesday, airlines are cancelling flights to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and governments have already announced closures.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal wasted little time as well on Monday. Deal on Monday morning declared a state of emergency for 14 counties in North Georgia, then by early Monday afternoon the governor his declaration to include 45 total counties in Metro Atlanta to North Georgia.

On Tuesday morning, Deal expanded the state of emergency to cover 88 counties.

“I have directed the State Patrol, Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources to begin moving assets toward areas where the snow and ice are expected, and I have issued a ‘warning order’ for the National Guard — an advance notice to personnel of the possibility of a ‘call up’ for a state mission,” Deal said in a Sunday statement.

Officials are urging anyone who can to stay home the next couple of days to give crews an opportunity to treat roads as needed.

In Atlanta, police and fire stations are on standby to help stranded motorists. Starting Monday evening, city road crews switched to 12-hour shifts and will continue to work the longer shifts through at least Thursday, officials said.

On Sunday, Deal said the State Operations Center would be up and running by 3 p.m. Monday.

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