Preparing for the possibility of winter weather this weekend

We have just come through Winter Weather Preparedness Week and apparently not a moment too soon.  Winter weather alerts go into effect tonight, including three in Walton, Gwinnett and the adjoining counties of Barrow and Oconee. Walton County is under three current alerts, a Winter Weather Advisory, a Wind Advisory and a Flood Watch. Click or tap on this link to keep up with these and any subsequent alerts over the weekend.

Chances are, in true local tradition, that you may find shelves are already beginning to empty in the bread and milk aisles. In the meantime, officials have some words of wisdom on how to ensure that you don’t join the ranks of those negatively impacted by any extreme weather conditions this weekend. Capt. Jack Armstrong with Monroe Fire Department has this advice.

“Slow down in all things that you do. Being in a hurry could make you not show up at all. By slowing down you increase your survival chances if you are in an accident or witness one approaching you,” Armstrong said, adding, “Everyone should wear a seatbelt! As with any rain/freezing event, accidents will be on the increase.”
The roads are not the only hazards during extreme winter weather conditions. Heating homes also can be problematic.
“Heaters are for heating and stoves are for cooking! Don’t confuse the two. Don’t operate a generator anywhere inside a home. You don’t run your lawnmower inside your house! These items need fresh clean outdoor air to operate,” Armstrong said. “If you have a fireplace, be kind to it! Don’t load it up and expect it to warm the neighborhood. If you do overload it and it gets out of hand, you probably will warm the neighborhood with your house on fire.”
There is also a possibility of power outages due to downed trees and power lines. Be sure to stay away from any downed power lines if you go out walking. Also, candles for light come with their own set of problems. Three people were injured early this week as a result of a burning candle that caused a fire in a Loganville area home.
For local updated weather information, a good resource is North Georgia Weather on Facebook.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has put out a press release letting everybody know that the agency is on standby to deal with any hazardous road conditions due to the winter weather.

” Snow and ice accumulations are possible, and travel conditions could become extremely hazardous. Monitor local media and be prepared to adjust travel plans as conditions change,” officials noted in the press release. “Winter weather preparation has been a topic of discussion all week, supplies are stockpiled, brine is ready, crews are on call and the snow-removal fleet has expanded — the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is prepared for winter.”

Officials advise that the Department has more than 385 snow removal units that are ready to be deployed should the need arise and “a well-thought-out emergency plan is in place to relocate district resources to the most needed areas during an event.”

“GDOT continues to enhance its preparations for extreme winter weather to treat impacted interstates and highways before, during and after a snow or icing event,” Bryan Haines, GDOT’s Director of Emergency Operations said in the release. “Our number one goal is to treat the interstates and state routes and keep them safe and passable, especially for emergency vehicles.”

GDOT has the following equipment, materials, and staff that are readily available for any winter weather event

  • More than 1,800 employees on call
  •  Thirty-three 5,000 gallon brine tankers
  • Capacity to store 450,000 gallons of brine
  • Ability to produce 20,000 gallons of brine per hour
  • 65,460 tons of gravel
  • 55 road weather sensors
  • 385 snow removal units
  • More than 54,000 tons of salt to cover 39,900 lane miles
Georgia prepares brine to prepare roads for potential winter weather. File Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation

GDOT notes that according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this year’s winter season in Georgia is expected to bring colder and “wetter-than-average” conditions. This could mean there are higher chances for black ice to form on bridges, overpasses, and roadways. GDOT provides helpful how-to videos and blog posts on how to prepare for winter weather. Watch: GDOT Spokesperson Natalie Dale provides great tips on how to prepare for winter weather.

GDOT is also urging motorists to “buckle up, use caution, minimize unnecessary travel, and reduce travel speed, especially in the overnight hours to ensure that Georgia DOT crews have room to treat and clear roadways. For the most up-to-date travel information, visit or call 511 to stay informed!

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