Freezing rain is in the forecast today, but state and local governments in metro Atlanta say they’re better prepared for winter storms than in the past. Here’s a look at some off what they’ve done:
*The Georgia Department of Transportation installed pavement sensors to detect temperatures in 15 locations around metro Atlanta, as well as one in Macon and 11 in North Georgia.
*The state has 70 new snow plows, bringing the total fleet to 385.
*The state also has nine new salt and gravel storage locations, for a total of 30 statewide, which will allow for quicker, more targeted response. Three of the new facilities are in metro Atlanta —- on I-675 at I-285; I-285 at U.S. 78; and on the Buford Spring Connector at Sidney Marcus Boulevard.
*In August, Atlanta hired a new emergency preparedness coordinator to work with city departments and other governments.
*The city has a new mass-notification system to inform people who live and work in Atlanta about weather and other hazards. The system sends alerts via phone, email and text message.
*Atlanta tracks and shares the status of road treatments in a new geographic information system.
*The county has added 50 new traffic cameras – bringing its total to 130 – that allow it to monitor road and traffic conditions.
*Cobb has added more spreader trucks to treat roads. In 2011, it had four; now it has 10.
*Cobb has added automatic vehicle locators in all equipment, allowing it to track plows and spreaders. That allows the county to divert the closest truck to respond to emergency calls.
*This year, DeKalb expanded its fleet of spreaders and plows from 12 to 16.
*The county works more closely with schools on closing decisions.
*DeKalb uses the Code Red emergency alert system to share information by email, phone and text. It’s also in the process of getting the National Weather Service’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System.
*The county has worked with its 14 cities and the National Weather Service to ensure better communication during inclement weather.
*Fulton has also strengthened communication across its own departments.
*The county is updating its hazard mitigation plan, which governs how it responds to a variety of emergencies.
*Gwinnett now participates in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s wireless emergency alert program, which allows residents to receive emergency information on their cell phones.
*The county has established special teams of employees to keep roads clear near police and fire stations, hospitals and other critical facilities. That frees up regular Department of Transportation crews to concentrate on other roads.
*The county hosts special phone conferences among county, city, school and other local officials to discuss preparations as bad weather approaches.
*The city has nearly doubled the amount of salt and sand it has on hand since the last big storm in 2014.
*It also has added two spreaders – it now has five – and has doubled its fleet of plows to six.
*The Georgia Department of Transportation is responsible for state routes within the city but often has other priorities. Sandy Springs has agreed to take responsibility for clearing Ga. 9 in the event of inclement weather.