Update: 3 p.m. Wednesday: The latest report from the National Weather Service calls for another two-to-five inches of snow in Madison County by 1 a.m. Thursday with more snow in the northern part of the county and more ice - up to .28 inches by 1 a.m. - in the southern end. A wind map also shows Madison County in the area with the highest-projected velocity through 1 a.m. Gusts are expected to reach up to 25 mph.
Update: 1 p.m. Wednesday: Madison County 9-1-1 director David Camp reported few weather-related calls Wednesday in the county. He said there were several minor accidents, with vehicles running off the roadway, but Camp said his office hasn't received any calls about downed trees, power lines or power outages at this time.
Update: Madison County schools will be closed Thursday due to the winter storm. The school system will still observe winter break Friday and Monday. Classes will resume Tuesday. The Madison County government complex will also be closed Thursday.
Madison County officials sat in front of a large screen at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the county government complex and watched a Powerpoint presentation as a National Weather Service spokesman outlined a dire weather scenario for Tuesday through Thursday in north Georgia.
The Madison County area can expect four-to-seven inches of snow, half an inch of ice and wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour over the next two days. Roads will be treacherous. Trees are expected to fall and power services over a vast swath of Georgia could be interrupted.
Madison County emergency response coordinator Johnny Bridges and other local officials urged citizens to stay off the roads. Even if they are without power, they are advised to stay in place and try their best to stay warm. Getting out on dangerous roads will only create more problems, they said.
“Please stay off the roads and shelter in place,” said Bridges to citizens. “In the event of an emergency, call 9-1-1 and we’ll address it. We have everyone working together to do our best to work through this situation.”
Leaders talked about generators, four-wheel drive vehicles, road assistance plans, downed tree limbs and chainsaws, as well as other matters Tuesday morning as snow fell heavily in Danielsville. Traffic was busy on county roads Tuesday despite the winter weather, as temperatures stayed above freezing.
But the conditions will change dramatically in coming hours.
The voice of the weather service spokesperson came through Bridges’ speakerphone Tuesday with ominous news. The weatherman compared the coming weather to a January 2000 Georgia winter storm that left 350,000 without power.
“This event could be worse,” the weatherman said.
According to the 11 a.m. Tuesday National Weather Service report, Madison County will see icy and dangerous conditions on roads tonight. Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing across much of the state by 3 a.m. Wednesday. Freezing rain will likely move in between 3 to 5 a.m. By 7 a.m., the temperature is expected to fall to 30 degrees around Madison County, with the thermometer dropping to 28 by noon Wednesday and hovering around 29 degrees at 5 p.m. Wednesday.
The Thursday morning low temperature is projected at 28 degrees. Precipitation is expected to move out of the Madison County area by 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday, with temperatures finally starting to creep above freezing.
While freezing precipitation will make any travel very dangerous, Wednesday will also have steady winds of 15-to-20 mph, with gusts between 25-to-30 mph.
Those on hand for the emergency meeting Tuesday morning included Bridges, Sheriff Kip Thomas, Chief Deputy Shawn Burns, BOC chairman Anthony Dove, 9-1-1 director David Camp, Madison County fire official Marc Perry, EMS director Jason Lewis and road department director Lapczynski.
Citizens with power outages are urged to contact their service provider — Jackson EMC or Georgia Power — not the county 9-1-1 office, where dispatchers will handle numerous emergency calls over the next couple of days. The exception is if people are on oxygen and having a medical emergency. The county can then transport them to an Athens hospital. However, the county does not have generators available for patients on oxygen assistance.
Volunteers with Madison County’s 11 fire departments are being asked to be ready to respond if needed, particularly with chainsaws in the case of downed limbs. The forestry service has also been contacted about possible help in that regard.
Editor’s note: Anyone with information that seems pertinent to public safety in Madison County during this storm can contact me with updates at email@example.com. I will update our website and Facebook page as much as possible — power permitting.
Officials to citizens: ‘Please stay home’ — Major winter storm expected to make all travel extremely hazardous
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