Kemp to declare state of emergency ahead of dangerously cold weather

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Flurries and flash freezing are possible

Remember that scene in “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” where he’s wandering alone through a righteously windy storm?

The Atlanta area and much of north Georgia will be a bit like that this weekend (minus the snow, probably). Overnight Thursday and perhaps all the way until Monday, wind chill temperatures are likely to approach zero or head into the negatives.

“We cannot overemphasize how dangerous this cold is going to be,” Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brian Monahan said.

With that in mind, Gov. Brian Kemp is preparing to declare a state of emergency. State agencies are getting prepared, with crews ready to pretreat thousands of miles of state routes and highways, utility services on high alert and chainsaw crews on standby.

You best start taking things seriously, too.

“It’s kind of an all hands approach,” Georgia Emergency Management Agency director Chris Stallings said in a Wednesday press conference.

Officials said north Georgia could see the lowest temperatures in nearly a decade and for a much longer duration than normal. There’s a possibility of flurries on Friday as temperatures plummet into the teens, and flash freezing on roadways is possible.

But the primary concerns throughout the holiday weekend are wind and sheer cold.

Georgia DOT commissioner Russell McMurry said crews will be brining some 21,000 miles of state routes and highways across the northern half of the state, starting as soon as Thursday. Georgians are urged to stay home through the weekend if at all possible.

The state of emergency that was expected to go into effect as soon as Thursday afternoon, meanwhile, is aimed at loosening restrictions on propane carriers, among other things.

Kemp said the gas is essential for heating many residential homes as well as for industries like poultry production.

Warming stations typically operated by local governments in the metro Atlanta area during cold weather will be available, officials said. And the state will also have facilities available throughout the state.

Visit for locations.

Otherwise, officials urged residents to have enough supplies — including medications — to last three days, should the need arise. Residents should also leave faucets dripping and open cabinets to try and keep pipes warm.

In a press release, Georgia Power said it “continuously monitors changing weather conditions” and will have teams in place to respond “as safely and as quickly as possible.” The utility also urged residents to have flashlights, portable phone charges and spare batteries on hand in case power goes out; never to use generators indoors; and to use space heaters only on level surfaces away from furniture, curtains, water, children and pets.

The latter, grown adults and yes, probably even reindeer should stay inside as much as possible.

“Check on your neighbors, check on your family, and we’ll get through all this together,” Stallings said.