Kemp urges Georgians to be ‘winter weather aware’ as storm approaches

Gov. Brian Kemp said state officials are mobilizing to deploy emergency resources ahead of the winter storm that could cover parts of North Georgia with snow and ice this weekend.

The governor urged Georgians on Friday to be “winter weather aware” and prepare for the first significant snowfall in metro Atlanta in nearly four years — and the black ice and treacherous road conditions that could follow.

“We know for many this long weekend will probably lead to a lot of travel plans, and we want to encourage everyone to stay up to date on the forecast,” Kemp said at a press conference in his office.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch for parts of northeast Georgia from Saturday evening to late Sunday. Forecasters expect 2 to 5 inches of snowfall in parts of the metro area by Sunday night. Higher elevations could see more.

James Stallings, the head of the state’s emergency agency, stressed that the forecasts could change significantly and that Georgians needed to stay vigilant.

Those going to the parade in Athens honoring Georgia’s football national championship should make plans to return home after the celebration, he said, or plan to hunker down in Athens until Monday.

Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said an “all hands on deck” response from his agency was underway, and crews have double-treated highways to try to prevent icy buildup.

Col. Chris Wright of the Georgia Department of Public Safety urged motorists to stay off the roads if they can — and to drive with caution if they can’t.

“We hope the storm will underdeliver,” Kemp said. “But it could overdeliver. And we’re throwing all the resources we have available at this.”