North Georgia mountains brace for snowfall

The snowfall started in earnest in Blue Ridge at about 7 p.m. And it's sticking, as well, on roads and car windshields and front porches.

It also started sending home the last stragglers out in this wet and cold-to-the-bone weather.

Courtney Marr smiled up at the thick falling flakes as she exited Masseria restaurant.

Whenever it snows here it's a family tradition to find some excuse to get out in it, she said.

"My dad always finds some reason to go drive in it," said Marr, who lives in Blue Ridge.

Michael Ponton, also leaving the place, had the opposite reaction.

"Dreading it," said the restaurant worker. "I'm on the 'snow crew' here and we open up no matter what so people have a place to eat."

North Georgia’s mountains could face the worst of the snowstorm moving into the state Friday.

In Blue Ridge, some 90 miles north of Atlanta, the Main Street usually bustling with tourists and locals became increasingly quiet and sparsely populated. Many of the book stores and clothing boutiques and pubs shut down early.

Anita MacDonald, from Atlanta, remained unperturbed as she calmly browsed the boutique called "The House of Threads."

"I'm from Chicago so this is nothing," she said.

She had the store to herself.

Emergency management officials say the area could receive between three to five inches of snow. That's not so bad, they say.

It's the ice that could form after the snow melts and freezes that they worry about.

Emergency crews have 300 tons of road salt ready to go and have fitted ambulances with chains on their tires, said Fannin County Emergency Management Agency Director Robert Graham.

Fire Department vehicles are also readying their vehicles with chains to help traverse the many mountains and hills in this area, about 90 miles north of Atlanta, he said. County vehicles have been fitted with road scrapers, as well.

This is a popular vacation area for many metro Atlantans, some who own get-away cabins here, and Graham said he hoped people cancel any trips here this weekend. "But I know people also like to come see the snow," he said.

The snow is expected to leave anywhere from one to four inches, he said. A major concern is that it will turn to ice afterwards, and the area is expecting temperatures to go as low as single digits early Sunday.

"That's why we're so concerned," he said.

Earlier in the day, the start of the snow made people in the Save a Lot grocery move a little quicker through the parking lot.

As the snow came down the lines to the cashier became longer.

The store had gone through nine pallets of milk in a day.

With all the hills and mountains here, people know that if this all turns to ice, emergency vehicles may not be able to reach their home. So in addition to stocking up on the usual sundries they were also buying propane, wood and toiletries should they have to be self-sufficient for a while.

Jason Banks was buying meat and the very important items for his very young children.

"Formula, diapers, wipes - the essentials," he said.

Banks, who lives in nearby Morganton, also happened to be the only guy in the store in shorts. The temperature outside was about 30 degrees.

"I just came from the gym," he said.

U.S. Forest Service officials warned that the snowfall could make emergency response unavailable along Georgia's Appalachian Trail and high elevations of the Chattahoochee National Forest

They are advising hikers to stay off the Appalachian Trail.