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Truckers beware: Another storm headed toward Atlanta

In this Jan. 29 aerial photo, traffic is snarled along the Interstate 285 perimeter, north of the metro area after a winter snowstorm, in Atlanta. (Associated Press: DAVID TULIS)

The Associated Press

2/10/2014

ATLANTA — With memories of thousands of vehicles gridlocked for hours on icy metro Atlanta highways fresh in their minds, officials in north Georgia prepared Monday for another round of winter weather, with the governor declaring a state of emergency for 14 counties.

That included the possibility of asking tractor-trailer truck to avoid the area Tuesday through Thursday, and although Georgia officials contemplated asking tractor-trailer drivers to avoid Atlanta, a spokesperson for the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said, but decided Monday not to do so.

Nevertheless, truckers should monitor the weather around Atlanta during the coming days and take an alternate route if bad weather hits, thus avoiding some of the gridlock that occurred after the Jan. 28 storm..

Gov. Nathan Deal, who was criticized for his response to the storm that paralyzed the metro area and left motorists stranded in vehicles overnight, tweeted Monday morning about the weather-related emergency declaration and said it would be expanded as necessary. In a statement Sunday, he said he had put emergency response agencies on alert and begun significant preparations.

The governor scheduled a news conference for noon Monday to further discuss winter storm preparations.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather watch from 7 p.m. Monday through 7 p.m. Tuesday and a winter storm watch from Tuesday evening through Thursday morning for the metro Atlanta area.

The storm has potential to reach beyond Atlanta and Georgia into other parts of the South. Forecasters said Alabama, which also saw stranded vehicles and other issues in the January storm, was likely to get a wintry mix of precipitation. Areas of Mississippi could see three inches of snow late Monday through noon Tuesday. And a blast of snow over a wide section of Kentucky slickened roads and closed several school districts.

Rain was expected Monday night in north Georgia, with predictions that it would change to snow by Tuesday morning and mix with sleet during the day. Snow was expected from Tuesday night through Thursday morning. Snow will likely accumulate, making driving conditions hazardous.

Emergency officials throughout the area have been urging residents to prepare their homes and vehicles.

State and local officials were widely criticized two weeks ago for what critics called a sluggish and inadequate response to the threat of severe weather that left tens of thousands of motorists stuck in their cars for hours and at least 280 students forced to sleep on their school buses because of icy, gridlocked roads.

The governor has apologized and last week announced the formation of a task force to develop recommendations on how the state can be better prepared and better equipped the next time severe weather hits metro Atlanta. He also called for various internal and external reviews and wants a new public alert system for severe weather, similar to what's used for missing and endangered children.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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