ATLANTA (AP) — With memories of thousands of vehicles gridlocked for hours on icy metro Atlanta highways fresh in their minds, emergency officials and elected leaders in north Georgia were preparing Monday for another round of winter weather.
Gov. Nathan Deal, who was criticized for his response to the Jan. 28 storm that paralyzed the metro area and left motorists stranded in vehicles overnight, said in a news release Sunday that he's put emergency response agencies on alert and begun significant preparations.
The governor scheduled a news conference for noon Monday to 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.
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.