Updated 11:06 p.m. Monday, Feb. 10:
Barrow County school officials announced tonight that local schools will be closed Tuesday, Feb. 11, and all after-school activities for the day are canceled. The Barrow County Board of Education meeting also has been postponed.
The Georgia Department of Transportation in a press release late Monday night urged the public to "refrain from all but absolutely necessary driving" from Tuesday morning through midday Thursday.
"Georgia DOT — in conjunction with Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and Georgia State Patrol — is prepared to respond to two likely winter weather events:one extending from this evening through approximately noon tomorrow, and a second likely to begin tomorrow night and continue until perhaps Thursday morning.
"Both will involve possible snow, freezing rain and ice. Temperatures are expected to be considerably colder during the second event heightening the risk of ice accumulation from tomorrow night through Thursday." Driving conditions will worsen throughout the day Tuesday and particularly so tomorrow night and into Wednesday, carrying the risk of generating significant icing, the press release states.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal earlier Monday declared a "state of emergency" in 45 counties, including Barrow, because of the approaching winter storm.
Local emergency officials participated in a National Weather Service briefing Monday morning.
"It's two events, not one four-day event," said Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith, who participated in the briefing.
A “Winter Weather Advisory” is in effect from 7 p.m. tonight until 7 p.m. Tuesday. During the 24-hour period, Barrow County could get a mixture of rain and sleet — though the sheriff said meteorologists have "low confidence" in the forecast of significant problems here overnight.
The meteorologists have "medium to high confidence," however, for the second part of their forecast. Currently, the county is under a Winter Storm Watch from 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday morning.
"This is in God's hands, but what they are predicting is that Barrow County is on the borderline," the sheriff said. "In the mountains of Northeast Georgia, they could have up to four inches of snow. Toward us, we are looking at a mix of ice and sleet and rain and possibly snow. It is possible we will have from one-third of an inch to one inch of ice."
The latest weather service forecast calls for rain overnight tonight but snow to be mixed with rain around 6 a.m. Tuesday. Freezing drizzle is to begin around midnight Tuesday, turn into freezing rain throughout most of Wednesday, and becoming snow Wednesday night.
The sheriff said public works employees around Barrow County and in its cities are mobilizing resources to treat local roads if the forecasts prove accurate. Icing could make travel impossible and also create power outages due to falling tree limbs.
Starting at 5 a.m. Tuesday, Barrow County Emergency Services will staff its Emergency Operation Center, according to a press release issued Monday afternoon. It will be staffed until Thursday and even longer if conditions require it.
"We also have contingency plans that are based on the amount of precipitation and call volume," said Lt. Scott Dakin, BCES public information officer.
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