Long before the first drop or snowflake fell, metro Atlanta was going through the familiar motions: Road crews were treating roads, schools cancelled evening activities and commuters rushed to get off the road early.
Then, it was time to wait. By Tuesday's evening rush hour, what was expected to be Georgia's third wintry storm since December swept over the Alabama border. Winter storm Inga moved into northwest Georgia, bringing snow and drastic temperature dips. The main event was expected Tuesday night, with snow showers expected from the mountains as far south as middle Georgia.
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This week’s weather system wasn’t expected to bring heavy snow to metro Atlanta. But some areas across the Southeast, and areas of middle Georgia that typically miss snow and ice were in Inga’s path.
The National Weather Service initially issued a winter weather advisory for north Georgia and the metro area, then expanded the advisory to include almost the entire state as the storm’s impact moved further south. The advisory ends at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
“The big story for us after the light snow is going to be the extremely cold air,” Brad Nitz, Channel 2 Action News meteorologist, said late Tuesday.
Though metro Atlanta isn’t known for its winter weather, this season has been anything but typical.
There was the early December storm that unexpectedly covered northwestern suburbs with 10 inches of snow. Then earlier this month, metro area school systems cancelled classes ahead of a winter storm, but Atlanta was spared of snow or ice. The same storm — a “bomb cyclone” — brought a rare snowfall in Savannah, which hadn’t recorded more than an inch of snow in nearly three decades. The coastal city, still recovering from Hurricane Irma, was shocked by 1.2 inches of snow.
This morning, temperatures will be in the teens, but the wind will ensure it will feel much colder, according to Channel 2 meteorologists. And it likely won’t be above freezing until Thursday afternoon, Chief Meteorologist Glenn Burns said.
“If you don’t dress for it, you’re going to be extremely cold,” Burns said.
From 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Georgia Department of Transportation brine trucks were already on metro Atlanta roads, and plow trucks were on standby.
“Once we get the brine down, it’s sort of a wait-and-see with the weather pattern,” GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said.
Those planning to fly into or out of Atlanta were advised Tuesday to check their flight status online before traveling to the airport. Delta Air Lines is waiving certain change fees for passengers with flights booked Tuesday or Wednesday in Atlanta and other cities in the Southeast for those who want to change their travel plans to avoid the storm.
Before the sun set Tuesday, some school districts decided to cancel classes for Wednesday, including Clayton, Henry and Carroll counties. Other counties were on standby, waiting to see what would happen before deciding whether classes would be in session.
Several metro counties opened “warming stations” to help the most vulnerable residents, including the homeless and those without heat.
Channel 2 meteorologists predicted a low on Wednesday of 16 degrees, but with the wind chill it will feel like 10 degrees below zero. By the end of the week, temperatures are expected to climb, thanks to mostly sunny skies. Sunday’s high temperature could reach 60 degrees, Burns said.
— Staff writers Raisa Habersham, Lauren Foreman, Kelly Yamanouchi and The Associated Press contributed to this report.