ATLANTA (AP) — A blast of freezing precipitation expected to arrive Tuesday could scatter snow and ice across Georgia from metro Atlanta to southern parts of the state normally immune to winter accumulation such as Americus and Savannah.
Much of the state was placed under a winter storm watch for Tuesday and Wednesday. The National Weather Service said cities including Atlanta, Americus, Columbus and Macon could see up to 2 inches of snow with the first flakes at midmorning Tuesday. Farther east, 3 inches of snow or more was possible in places including Vidalia, Dublin, Milledgeville and Sylvania. There was also a threat of treacherous conditions farther south, where freezing rain and sleet could form up to ½ inch of ice in the Savannah area.
"The snowfall amounts are going to matter very little in this situation because of the ice potential," said Jason Deese, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. "Some parts of the state may end up seeing the greatest impact just because they get more ice than snow."
Forecasters were predicting snow and ice from Texas to the Carolina by mid-week as precipitation moving in from the south met with cold air already chilling the region.
Computer models were having a hard time predicting exactly what areas would get hit and how much snow and ice to expect, Deese said. But it looked like few parts of Georgia could expect to be bypassed completely.
On Monday morning, the Weather Service expanded its winter storm watch area farther north to include metro Atlanta, where roads could start getting icy in time for the evening rush hour Tuesday. Georgia Department of Transportation spokesman Mark McKinnon said crews in the Atlanta area were ready.
"Our equipment is already prepared from the previous close calls we have had this year," McKinnon said. "So all we need to do now is watch the weather and based on that, we will decide when and where to deploy our crews. "
There was also a chance of freezing rain and sleet across southern Georgia from Albany to Alma.
Forecasters warned icy roads could make driving dangerous in much of the state, especially overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. And frozen tree limbs falling onto power lines could cause widespread power outages in some areas.
"We have increasing confidence a winter storm is going to affect portions of Georgia," Deese said. "It's just a matter of which portions of Georgia."