Probably not, but weather forecasters say much of metro Atlanta and north Georgia could see this winter’s first snow and sleet — and maybe even a little freezing rain — just in time for the Monday morning commute.
A winter storm warning is in effect from Jasper to Cleveland and northward, from 7 a.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to Channel 2 Meteorologist Katie Walls.
A winter weather advisory is in place for the northern half of Fulton County and Buchanan, Buckhead and Danielsville northward. That advisory lasts from 7 a.m. Monday through 7 a.m. Tuesday, Walls said.
The main concern will be for sleet and freezing rain at the onset Monday morning, Walls said. Ice is possible from 10 a.m. through mid-afternoon for metro Atlanta, she added.
Channel 2 Meteorologist Karen Minton says snow, sleet, and freezing rain are all likely Monday. Temperatures will drop Monday morning, she added.
“I’m looking at the colder temperatures and that says to me that we’re going to be seeing some snow to start,” Minton said. “We could then see some sleet, freezing rain, and snow at times.”
Temperatures will be in the 30s throughout the day, with an average low for Atlanta at 27. The average high for Atlanta Monday will be 38 degrees.
‘’There will be many hours of fine-tuning this forecast,” Minton said.
The predicted accumulations — maybe 2 inches of snow and sleet in the north Georgia mountains and an icy mix in metro Atlanta — don’t seem to portend the kind of storm that crippled the Atlanta area in January 2014, trapping drivers overnight on roads littered with abandoned cars, stranding thousands of children in their schools, and turning the region into a national laughingstock for its lack of winter-weather preparation.
Still, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch Saturday, urging Georgians to stock up on non-perishable foods and to rethink travel plans.
“Urging” might be an understatement. The weather service ended its alert with an apocalyptic all-caps declaration: “NOW IS THE TIME TO PREPARE FOR THIS WINTER STORM. … DO NOT WAIT FOR THE WARNING!”
If the tone seems overly dramatic, especially as parts of New England are measuring their snowfall by the foot, remember the unrelenting gridlock that shut down metro Atlanta’s interstates, surface streets and even public transportation last year following a mere 3 inches of ice and snow.
This time, state officials say they won’t take the forecast for granted.
“We are preparing,” Gov. Nathan Deal said Saturday on Twitter. He offered no specifics, but surely hopes to avoid the widespread criticism he attracted after last year’s storm. His delay in declaring a state of emergency and his suggestion that the widely predicted storm was “unexpected” became issues in his re-election campaign last year.
The Georgia Department of Transportation, which last year blamed stranded drivers for being in the way of road-clearing efforts, says it is ready to deal with this storm. Trucks sprayed a brine solution on major interstates, just in case.
“We will get all lanes, so it won’t just be bridges and overpasses,” DOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale told Channel 2.
Forecasters said snow is likely to begin Monday morning, turning into a mix of sleet and snow by the evening. A brief period of freezing rain is expected Monday night.
Slightly warmer temperatures on Tuesday should mean all precipitation will be in the form of rain. But forecasters say light snow could spread across the region Tuesday evening as the storm system moves on.
Monday’s lows should be in the low 20s, with highs only in the mid-30s. Temperatures could drop to near-freezing by Tuesday morning, with highs forecast in the upper 30s and low 40s.
Luckily, Monday is Presidents Day, and many workers — those at federal agencies and at banks, for instance — will have the day off. Most public schools around Atlanta also are closed. Cobb County was scheduled to have classes but announced late Saturday that schools will be closed Monday in anticipation of the nearing storm.
AJC reporter Dan Klepal contributed to this story.
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