ATLANTA – Snow and ice forecasts as far south as Georgia have put large swaths of the US Southeast on alert as shoppers scour store shelves for supplies. storm and teams race to handle the highways and roads when a big winter storm hits. Midwest.
In Virginia, where a blizzard left thousands of motorists stranded on congested highways earlier this month, Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency and urged people to take the storm seriously. come close.
In North Carolina, some store shelves have been stripped of essential items including bread and milk.
Elsewhere, trucks began spraying a salt-laden mix over hundreds of miles of interstates and other roads to prevent frost across the region.
Travis Wagler said he has never seen such a shortage of supplies at his Abbeville, South Carolina hardware store for at least two winters.
“We’re selling everything you might expect: sleds, but also salt, shovels and firewood,” says Wagler from Abbeville Hardware. That area faces predictions of a quarter inch (0.6 cm) or more of ice on trees and power lines, which could lead to days without power.
“People are worried,” Wagler said.
Forecasters say parts of Tennessee could get up to 6 inches (15 cm) of snow, and northern Mississippi and the Tennessee Valley region of Alabama could get light snow. With a widely predicted 20s low, any amount of rain could freeze, making driving difficult if not dangerous.
By Friday, the fast-moving storm had dumped heavy snow across large swaths of the Midwest, where travel conditions had deteriorated and many schools had closed or switched to online instruction.
The storm, which after the weekend is expected to move into the Southeast, is then expected to move into the Northeast while shedding snow, hail and rain around the densely populated South China Sea.
A winter storm warning extends from just north of metro Atlanta to Arkansas in the west and Pennsylvania in the north, covering parts of 10 states including Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. Commuting problems could extend to the Atlanta metro, where about 2 inches (5 cm) of snow brought traffic to a halt in 2014, an event still known as “Snowmaggedon”.
A mix of ice and up to 2.5 centimeters of snow is expected in Atlanta, according to an announcement released by the National Weather Service Saturday.
At Dawsonville Hardware about 60 miles (95 km) north of Atlanta, owner Dwight Gilleland said he ran out of heaters by Friday afternoon and only had five bags of salt and sand left.
“I think the pandemic has made people more worried than usual,” he said.
In the mountains of northeast Georgia, Rick Story was shopping for milk and cereal in the town of Clayton and noticed several empty shelves, mostly food. Up to 10 inches (25 cm) of snow is expected there.
Story, Director of the Rabun County Chamber of Commerce, said: “People are hoarding goods and err on the side of caution. “It might be the proverbial calm before the storm.”
Story’s main concern is the potential for power outages. “It may take a while up here before we get power back on because we have more remote areas and mountain roads,” he said.
Power outages and travel problems could be exacerbated by any cover of ice – and gusts of up to 35 mph (55 km/h), the National Weather Service said.
“Hopefully the storm will be under-distributed, but it could be over-distributed. We don’t know,” Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said as he announced storm preparedness. He had no chance when he declared an emergency and crews began treating major roads and highways in northern Georgia.
Governor Henry McMaster in neighboring South Carolina also issued an emergency order, saying the state will likely begin to feel the effects of the major winter storm Sunday morning.
“There is the potential for very dangerous conditions due to the accumulation of ice and snow, resulting in power outages across the state,” he said.
Spokesperson Randy Britton said the city of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, had to borrow workers from other departments to assist with the handling of roads before the storm because COVID-19 had caused a shortage of workers. Volunteers are even helping out as the city ramps up its schedule to prepare for normal winter weather, he said.
“We feel really good about where we are,” he said. “We checked the boxes.”
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed an emergency order and authorities urged people to stay home as the storm makes landfall. The state highway agency warned that labor shortages mean crews may not be able to respond to problem areas as quickly as they normally would.
“We don’t have a lot of people to drive trucks or operate equipment,” said North Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman Marcus Thompson.
Many schools and businesses will be closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which could help mitigate travel problems coupled with temperatures expected to rise in the 40s.
Collins reports from Columbia, South Carolina. AP writers, Jay Reeves of Birmingham, Alabama; Sarah Brumfield of Richmond, Virginia; Tom Foreman Jr. in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Jeff Martin of Woodstock, Georgia; Gary Robertson of Raleigh, North Carolina; and Ben Finley of Norfolk, Virginia, contributed to this report.