Meteorologists predict up to four inches of snowfall in the metro area. (Credit: Channel 2 Action News)

Winter weather warnings issued ahead of predicted Atlanta snowfall

ATLANTA FORECAST

Today: Partly cloudy. Windy. High: 54

Tonight: Mostly cloudy. Low: 35

Tomorrow: Chance of wintry mix. High: 40

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

» Read more: Atlanta weather: The latest news about snow in Atlanta

In less than 24 hours, a warning goes into effect for a winter storm that could dump up to 4 inches of snow on parts of metro Atlanta and North Georgia. 

Gov. Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency, which begins at noon Friday, as the metro area braces for the "biggest snow threat" in three years. The emergency order covers 79 Georgia counties, including all of metro Atlanta.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency warned residents Thursday to prepare to stay at home for at least three days.

“With winter weather on the way,” the agency said, “now is the time to prepare.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will discuss predicted winter weather at a news conference Friday morning. 

The National Weather Service’s winter storm warning goes into effect at 4 p.m. Friday. It is set to expire at 1 p.m. Saturday.

According to the NWS, a winter storm warning means significant amounts of snow are expected or occurring, or significant amounts of snow are forecast that will make travel dangerous.

“The main threat is expected to be after sunset (with precipitation) changing to all snow after midnight,” Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz said of Friday’s forecast. “It will only snow for a few hours, but it will be heavy.”

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Channel 2 meteorologists are predicting between 1 and 4 inches of snow. They expect sleet and freezing rain Friday night that will eventually change to all snow.

“Some sleet and snow mix is likely to start in the late afternoon or early evening hours in metro Atlanta,” Nitz said. “The heavier, accumulating snow will mostly come after midnight.” 

Channel 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said “this looks like the biggest snow and winter weather threat” to metro Atlanta since February 2014. That’s when inches of snow and ice covered the city and left hundreds of thousands stranded on roads and without power.

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)

Heavier amounts of snow and rain could fall over parts of North Georgia, Monahan said.

Travel will be difficult to impossible in spots late Friday and early Saturday, Monahan said.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has loaded trucks with brine to salt roads in metro Atlanta ahead of the anticipated storm, spokeswoman Natalie Dale said Wednesday.“We have prepped and loaded trucks to brine the metro area as early as overnight (Thursday) night,” she said.

Tips for driving through black ice.

MARTA officials have not made firm plans regarding the weather, but spokeswoman Alisa Jackson said customers should check the website frequently.

Delta has offered to waive certain change fees for flights booked between Jan. 6-7 and headed to cities hit hardest by snow storms.

Amtrak modified rail service for trains traveling to Virginia and North Carolina on Saturday. The Palmetto trains 89 and 90 were scheduled to head to and from Savannah, respectively, but will now operate between Washington D.C. and New York City. 

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued a state of emergency beginning at 7 a.m. Friday for counties affected by snow. 

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