Atlanta Weather : Worst of Storm May Not Hit Until Wednesday
"Do be prepared for massive power outages as this is likely to be a massive weather event," Burns said Monday evening.
The evening commute started a little earlier than normal Monday afternoon. But metro interstates were moving at their normal slow-and-go pace despite the looming winter storm.
"Don't expect anything worse than a normal Monday, except it may start earlier," said Doug Turnbull, traffic reporter for WSB radio.
Instead of busy interstates, it was smaller side streets seeing heavier than normal traffic Monday afternoon, Turnbull said. Check the WSB traffic website for the latest information.
Still need to get to the grocery store? Be prepared to be there for a while. Shopping center parking lots were bustling throughout the day Monday, with many stocking up to prepare for possibly being stuck at home several days.
But above all, finish errands and plan to be home, if possible, long before midnight, forecasters said.
"Around 3 a.m., the first batch of wintry weather moves into west Georgia, moving eastward," Channel 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz said.
Late Monday afternoon, metro school systems announced plans to cancel classes.
Atlanta Public Schools was the first school system Monday to call off classes. DeKalb County Schools followed suit a few minutes later, canceling Tuesday classes. Fulton County and Cobb County school officials canceled classes for Tuesday and Wednesday. Forsyth County School, Marietta City School, Paulding County School and Douglas County School officials also announced Tuesday closures.
And while Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport officials said the airport would remain "open and fully operational this week," Delta Air Lines is waiving certain change fees for travelers scheduled to fly Tuesday through Thursday from or through Atlanta and other southeastern airports.
Meanwhile, the governor late Monday morning expanded the weather-related state of emergency to 45 counties as another round of significant winter precipitation sets its sights on parts of north and central Georgia.
Gov. Nathan Deal doesn't want to take any chances after the icy gridlock embarrassed Georgia in late January. He encouraged residents in the storm's path to "be off the road by early evening" Monday as transportation crews prepare the roads. Deal also asked tractor-trailers, which caused mayhem during the January storm, to steer clear of I-285.
The governor convened his emergency response team at 11 a.m. Monday, including executives from hospitals and utility companies. Deal said he was particularly worried about the "devastating" impact of ice dragging down power lines.
Winter storm warning for far northern suburbs
Just after 4 a.m. Monday, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for the far northern suburbs northward, effective from 7 p.m. Monday through 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The warning, posted for Cherokee, Forsyth, Hall, Banks, Jackson, Murray, Fannin, Gilmer, Union, Towns, Pickens, Dawson, Lumpkin and White counties, is calling for snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches.
Late Monday morning, Deal declared a state of emergency in those 14 counties. The state of emergency was later expanded to also include Dade, Walker, Catoosa, Whitfield, Chattooga, Gordon, Floyd, Bartow, Polk, Paulding, Cobb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Barrow, Haralson, Carroll, Douglas, DeKalb, Clarke, Oconee, Oglethorpe, Wilkes, Walton, Rabun, Habersham, Stephens, Franklin, Hart, Madison, Elbert and Lincoln counties.
Winter weather advisory, winter storm watch for I-20 northward
South of those counties, along and north of a line from Carrollton through downtown Atlanta to Washington, a winter weather advisory is in effect from 7 p.m. Monday through 7 p.m. Tuesday, followed by a winter storm watch from Tuesday evening through Thursday morning.
Snow accumulations of up to an inch are expected through Tuesday evening in the advisory area, followed by an additional 1 to 2 inches of snow, along with up to a quarter-inch of ice, from Tuesday night through Thursday morning.
"Rain Monday night will mix with and possibly change over to snow or a snow/sleet mix by sunrise Tuesday morning," the Weather Service said.
"Precipitation will likely change back over to rain before transitioning again back to a mix of rain, sleet and snow Tuesday evening," the Weather Service continued. "By Wednesday morning, expect a mix of sleet and freezing rain, finally transitioning back to snow by Thursday morning."
Winter storm watch south of I-20 to Macon
From downtown southward, a winter storm watch has been posted for Tuesday evening through Thursday morning, as far south as Macon and Warner Robins.
A quarter-inch to half-inch of ice could accumulate south of Atlanta, along with a trace of snow, forecasters warned.