Stay home before snow storm hits, DeKalb officials warn

DeKalb County CEO Mike Thurmond, center, and emergency officials warn residents to prepare for a snow storm that could arrive Friday evening. The spoke at a press conference Thursday at DeKalb police headquarters. From left: Susan Loeffler, director for the DeKalb Emergency Management Agency; Donna Flanders, a nationally certified ASL interpreter; Police Chief James Conroy; Thurmond; 911 Director Marshall Mooneyham; Fire Chief Darnell Fullum; Public Safety Director Cedric Alexander. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

DeKalb County CEO Mike Thurmond, center, and emergency officials warn residents to prepare for a snow storm that could arrive Friday evening. The spoke at a press conference Thursday at DeKalb police headquarters. From left: Susan Loeffler, director for the DeKalb Emergency Management Agency; Donna Flanders, a nationally certified ASL interpreter; Police Chief James Conroy; Thurmond; 911 Director Marshall Mooneyham; Fire Chief Darnell Fullum; Public Safety Director Cedric Alexander. MARK NIESSE / MARK.NIESSE@AJC.COM

Residents should avoid driving in metro Atlanta starting Friday as the risk of a heavy snow storm increases, according to DeKalb County officials.

DeKalb CEO Mike Thurmond said Thursday that emergency workers are prepared for a potentially "historic weather event."

"We can't stress enough the importance of staying off the roads unless absolutely necessary," Thurmond said during a press conference at DeKalb police headquarters in Tucker.

Forecasts indicate that rain may turn to snow when temperatures drop around sunset Friday, said Susan Loeffler, director for the DeKalb Emergency Management Agency. The storm could gain power around midnight, when up to an inch per hour of snow may be dumped on the region.

“We need to take care of each other and be prepared,” she said. “Be safe. Stay home. … Go to the grocery store now.”

Most of DeKalb County could receive 3 or 4 inches of snow, while areas around Lithonia and Stone Mountain could get 4 to 6 inches, Loeffler said.

The county has 16 snow plows ready, while police and firefighters will put chains on their tires when needed.

“We want to make sure that our residents are prepared,” said DeKalb Public Safety Director Cedric Alexander. “Stay home as much as you can.”

Metro Atlanta governments learned from the heavy snow storm in 2014 that snarled traffic and shut down the region for days, officials said.

DeKalb bought four more snow plows and prepared ahead of time by mixing salt-and-sand that will be used to clear roads .