Georgia Governor Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency Monday evening for 28 Georgia counties after the National Weather Service issued a warning of a potentially severe winter storm. The counties included in the declaration are all in the southeastern portion of the state, near the coast.
The counties include Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Candler, Coffee, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Echols, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Ware and Wayne.
The National Weather Service expects the storm to dump as much as three inches of snow or freezing rain (or both) in the area, and the temperature changes over the coming days could cause that snow and ice to melt and refreeze, leading to more ice, Deal said.
The Georgia Department of Transportation announced it would begin spreading saltwater on the roads Wednesday morning in the area in anticipation of the ice, and urged motorists to stay home.
The state of emergency lasts through Jan. 5.
The Valley is expected to avoid the worst of the storm, though the bitterly cold temperatures are here to stay through the weekend. Lows will remain in the low 20s and highs in the middling 40s through Sunday, when the high will just barely clamber up to 50, according to the National Weather Service. Mayor Teresa Tomlinson has issued a winter weather advisory until Sunday.
“We have not seen this kind of extended cold since January 2014,” WRBL Chief Meteorologist Bob Jeswald told the Ledger-Enquirer Monday.
A warming shelter at SafeHouse Ministries opened early Monday morning and took in more than 50 people, said SafeHouse executive director Neil Richardson. It will remain open until Sunday afternoon, and will accept anyone, no questions asked, Richardson said. The shelter is located at 2101 Hamilton Road
Meanwhile, a wind chill advisory is in place for much of the northwesr of the state, with the National Weather Service predicting wind-chill temperatures as low as -10 degrees in some areas.
The rest of the East Cost apart from Georgia is bracing for the weather as well. The winter storm expected to batter the coast of the Southeast will move north, strengthen, and form an unusual and intense 'bomb cyclone' over New England, bringing hurricane-force winds, ice and snow.
It could be the most intense such storm the area has seen in decades at this time of year, reported the Washington Post.