UPDATE [11:45 a.m.]: The National Weather Service has canceled a winter weather advisory earlier than expected for multiple far North Georgia counties and for all of metro Atlanta.
The advisory, which was issued because accumulations of ice and snow were in the forecast, was initially scheduled to expire at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
However, “the threat for icing is going to take a few more hours to develop, and because of that and the precipitation moving out, the winter weather advisory has been canceled for all of metro Atlanta (and) most of North Georgia,” Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz said.
Habersham and Rabun counties are the only areas still under the advisory.
Temperatures started warmer than expected Tuesday morning with Atlanta near 50 degrees, leading to more rain than snow for most, Channel 2 meteorologist Eboni Deon said.
“As the front slides through and temps fall, there are a few flurries in our northwest suburbs but the opportunity for areas seeing rain to change to snow is ending,” she said.
Falling temperatures and freezing roads remain the primary concerns later Tuesday, the news station reported.
Channel 2 chief meteorologist Glenn Burns said he expects flurries to continue over the next few hours as the system moves out.
ORIGINAL STORY: While a cold rain is falling in much of metro Atlanta, some northern suburbs saw a brief wintry mix and even a few snowflakes as part of a system that could coat streets in ice, according to Channel 2 Action News.
There were reports of snow in Dade, Fannin, Gilmer, Union and Walker counties, Channel 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said.
A sleet/rain mix was reported in Cherokee County just before 10 a.m., and northern Cobb County experienced some light snow, according to Channel 2.
Although Atlanta was still in the 40s at 10 a.m., Monahan said pavement temperatures are falling fast across North Georgia, down to the mid- to upper 30s over parts of Fannin and Gilmer.
Over the next couple of hours, cold air is expected to build in behind an arctic cold front now pushing through metro Atlanta, Channel 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz said. That air is just moving a little slower than the moisture out ahead of it.
“As these temperatures dive, we'll have the back edge of this rain change over to a little wintry mix,” Nitz said. “As far as the accumulation in Atlanta, it is going to be very slim.”
Areas along and north of a line from Carrollton to Marietta to Canton are most likely to see a dusting of snow. Earlier forecasts suggested trace amounts to up to an inch-and-a-half of snow was possible in parts of metro Atlanta.
“Not going to see an inch-and-a-half,” Nitz said. “It’s going to be on the low end of that scale, toward the dusting.”
Because things are warmer than expected Tuesday, the National Weather Service canceled a winter storm warning for more than a dozen far North Georgia counties. Winter weather advisories are now in effect for that region and for all of metro Atlanta until 7 p.m. Tuesday.
A winter storm warning remains in effect for Rabun County, where total snow accumulations of up to 2 inches are expected, according to the Weather Service.
“The bottom line is: Very little additional snow here over the next few hours,” Nitz said. “We are going to quickly change our focus to two things: how quickly the pavement dries this afternoon and this evening, and how quickly those road surface temperatures drop down below freezing as this cold air rushes in.”
With the threat of snow and wintry weather shutting down schools and government offices Tuesday, traffic was “lighter than normal” on metro Atlanta interstates, WSB traffic reporter Mark Arum said.
“Look at all the green map,” he said. “How often do you see that?”
The State Road and Tollway Authority was still expected to close the I-75 express lanes in Clayton and Henry counties in both directions at 11 a.m. The agency will close express lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties at 11:30 a.m. They will be closed until further notice. In addition, SRTA has canceled the state’s Xpress bus service Tuesday.
GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale said Tuesday the agency will wait until the storm hits metro Atlanta to decide when to reopen the lanes.
While Monahan anticipates the most significant travel impacts for far North Georgia, he is still urging drivers to use caution when hitting the roads Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, when temperatures are expected to plummet.
North Georgia could be waking up to temps in the teens and low 20s on Wednesday, Monahan said, meaning any lingering moisture on the roads has the potential to freeze and create patches of ice.
Black ice is also a concern for the Tuesday evening commute as the arctic air moves in and temperatures come down, especially for secondary, untreated roads, he said.
“I think in town, inside the Perimeter, it’s not going to be bad today,” Monahan said. “I know a lot of schools closed out of an abundance of caution. Overall, around town, I don’t expect any significant travel issues today.”
Crews applied more than 140,000 gallons of brine to metro Atlanta highways. Dale said interstates were covered, and the agency was focused on other state highways.
Many metro Atlanta schools and businesses are closed Tuesday, including state offices. City of Atlanta, Cobb County, DeKalb County and Fulton County government offices are also closed.
Students in Atlanta, Clayton County, Cobb County, Decatur, DeKalb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County and Marietta will not be headed to classes, as well as in several other North Georgia school districts.
“We’re seeing the coldest air in many years across the northern part of the country,” Monahan said. “Fortunately that’s staying to the north. We're getting a little piece of that here in North Georgia.”
North Georgia is expected to stay cold Thursday and Friday morning, according to the latest forecast. Then it’s back to the 50s for the weekend.
“Just rain showers in the forecast for Super Bowl Sunday,” Monahan said. “It’s going to be mild, with temperatures in the mid-50s.”
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