According to the National Weather Service and The Weather Channel, Atlanta has a potential for winter weather on Thursday night into Friday morning. On Jan. 16, Alex Gibbs from the National Weather Service in Atlanta said on TWC, “There is the possibility of seeing some ice as we head into Friday morning. Black ice is our biggest concern. The roads could be slippery and icy Friday morning.” Could the potential winter weather cause school closings or delayed openings in and around Atlanta? If you live in Metro Atlanta, the answer is “probably not.” However, if you live in or near the North Georgia Mountains, the answer is a definite “maybe,”
The Hall County school system sent out a tweet on Wednesday morning that read, “Remember to check website often for winter weather news.” The National Weather Service expects a 1-3” snow accumulation in the North Georgia Mountains and maybe a dusting in North Atlanta. However, snow won’t be the problem. Ice could spell trouble for a city that rarely sees winter weather and doesn’t have sufficient equipment to deal with ice and snow. In fact, Atlanta ranks as the third most weather vulnerable city in the country. In 2011, a snowstorm caused Atlanta schools to close for one full week because buses were unable to navigate icy roads.
Snow Jam 2011 ended up costing Atlanta about $300 million when all was said and done. The rare winter storm covered roads with dangerous sheets of ice that didn’t melt for days. MARTA was shut down completely and thousands of employees missed work or worked from home. However, kids were happy about their unexpected winter break.
This winter storm will not cause nearly the havoc that Snow Jam did in 2011. In fact, meteorologist David Chandley from WSB-TV said at noon on Wednesday that the winter weather will be a “curiosity rather than a event.” Parents should still be on alert for the possibility of delayed school openings on Friday, Jan. 18. For the latest information about school closures or delayed openings, check WSB-TV’s website or each individual school system’s web page. So, if you’re the parent of an Atlanta area school student, stay informed, but don’t rush out to buy bread and milk.
Below is the most current winter weather statement, as issued by the National Weather Service.
Brief winter weather possible across North and portions of Central Georgia Thursday afternoon and evening. Black ice possible across North and portions of Central Georgia Thursday evening and Friday morning. A strong low pressure system will move across the state on Thursday. Ahead of the system, a deep southerly flow will spread ample Gulf moisture northward, resulting in widespread rain across North and Central Georgia. As the associated cold front pushes into the Carolinas Thursday afternoon, a deep cold air mass will begin to spread into the area from west to east Thursday with temperatures generally falling through the day. Rain is expected to mix with and change over to snow or a snow/sleet mix across mainly portions of North Georgia Thursday afternoon and evening. Despite warm grounds from recent unseasonably warm temperatures, there is the potential for some light snow accumulations across parts of North Georgia, especially in the North Georgia Mountains during the late afternoon and evening hours. The greater chances for accumulations will be in the higher elevations of North Georgia where 1-3 inches may be possible. However, if snow rates get enhanced enough by the strong upper low traversing the state, some light accumulations of one half inch or less may be possible across parts of North Georgia, generally north of the I-20 corridor west of Atlanta and the I-85 corridor east of Atlanta. This would be mainly over elevated and grassy surfaces. Although light snow could be seen as far south as Hamilton to Washington, no accumulation is expected south of the aforementioned 1-20 and I-85 corridors at this time. No widespread travel difficulties are expected with the initial snowfall Thursday afternoon and early evening. Of greater concern however is the potential for patches of black ice developing on bridges and overpasses from late Thursday evening through mid Friday morning as temperatures fall below freezing, Northwest winds between 10 to 15 MPH will help to dry roads off as the precipitation exits Thursday evening, but this will likely not happen quickly enough to eliminate the black ice potential. The potential for black ice exists as far south as a Columbus to Greensboro line. However, the greatest threat remains in portions of North and West Central Georgia as temperatures will fall to below freezing near midnight Thursday night. All interests across North and Central Georgia should continue to monitor later forecasts and remain alert for the potential of winter weather Thursday afternoon and evening across North Georgia and for the potential of black ice across North and portions of Central Georgia Thursday night and Friday morning.
To receive future articles by Jackie Kass, scroll to the top of this article, and click on SUBSCRIBE. Do you have a story idea? Email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.