Atlanta weather: Georgia governor to declare state of emergency

Gov. Nathan Deal stands with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Gov. Nathan Deal stands with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Gov. Nathan Deal will declare a state of emergency across much of north Georgia on Friday as wintry weather is poised to dump several inches of snow across the region. But the governor urged residents not to rush to the roads at noon, when the emergency order is set to take effect.

» For a detailed forecast, visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution weather page.

Deal ordered state transportation officials to start treating Georgia roads with brine late Thursday ahead of the storm, which could bring as much as four inches of snow to parts of north Georgia.

But with forecasts showing the winter storm won’t hit Georgia until late Friday, he isn’t calling for state employees to stay home. The emergency order frees up state resources and funding to respond to the storm.

The National Weather Service uses specific winter weather terms to ensure that people know what to expect in the coming days and hours. (Erica A. Hernandez/AJC)

“Georgians should stay calm, make the appropriate preparations and stay aware of potential change in weather conditions,” said Deal.

The emergency order covers 78 Georgia counties, including all of metro Atlanta.

Deal has taken few chances after the poor communication and slow government response to the 2014 ice storm that transformed a dusting of wintry weather into an embarrassing disaster for Georgia. Deal and other state officials say they've learned from their mistakes.

winter weather task force appointed by the governor has led to more equipment and more aggressive efforts to clear roads long before snowflakes fall. And Deal has embraced a better-safe-than-sorry mantra, declaring emergencies and calling for workers to stay home when severe weather threatens.

That's what happened when wintry weather walloped Georgia three weeks after that 2014 ice storm, and again in 2015 when a new round of snow threatened metro Atlanta. He declared 15 counties in north Georgia emergency zones and urged non-essential state workers to stay home.

And Deal used the same strategy in October to respond to Hurricane Matthew, which forced millions to evacuate and killed at least four people in Georgia. Using the word "cautious" several times to describe his approach, he urged coastal residents to escape the coming storm.

This weekend’s storm is set to be a doozy. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency warned residents Thursday to prepare to stay at home for at least three days, urging residents that “now is the time to prepare.”

And Deal said he could ratchet up the emergency order if the forecast changes.

“We will continue to monitor the forecast models and make appropriate adjustments as necessary,” he said.