UPDATE: Snow covers Middle Georgia, causing school cancellations

People advised to stay off roads

March 1, 2009 

Middle Georgia received a rare snowfall today, with more likely through the evening.

A winter storm moving through the Macon area may dump 2 inches of snow before midnight, with the Georgia Department of Transportation advising motorists to say off the roads not only in Middle Georgia but across much of the state.

A mixture of snow, rain and sleet may turn to more snow by midnight, said Patricia Atwell, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. The resulting slush may mean trouble for roads with expected freezing temperatures, Atwell said. Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing by 9 tonight, she said.

Motorists in north and Middle Georgia are advised to stay off the roads unless necessary this afternoon, evening and overnight through Monday morning, according to a GDOT news release issued today. Icing on roads, bridges and overpasses had not been reported, but such icing is possible as temperatures drop through the evening and overnight, the release said.

Potential problems on the roads is causing several schools and school systems to cancel school on Monday.

Bibb County schools are closed, said Chris Floore, spokesman for Bibb County schools. All school activities for students and staff are canceled, teachers are not to report to work and the central office will be closed, he said. However, a 5:30 p.m. Bibb County Board of Education called board meeting is still on schedule, Floore said.

Other schools closed today are: Taylor County Bleckley County Twiggs County Putnam County Jasper County Monroe County. Mount DeSales Academy Stratford Academy Tattnall Square Academy First Presbyterian Day School Westfield Schools Windsor Academy Woodfield Academy Piedmont Academy Monticello Twiggs Academy Jeffersonville Monroe Academy, Forsyth. Central Fellowship Academy Covenant Academy St. Joseph's School St. Peter Claver Early Trails preschool Ingleside Weekday preschool Montessori of Macon preschool Tattnall Wee Center preschool

Class at both the Macon and Warner Robins campuses of Macon State College are closed until the 5:30 p.m. Monday classes, said spokeswoman Sharon Smith. Students and faculty should not report until regular evening classes, she said.

Beth McLaughlin, spokeswoman for Houston County schools, said schools were expected to be open on schedule but should that change, area news media would be notified and parents would get word through a call-out to let know whether schools were canceled or not.

Employees for the City of Macon should not report to work until 10:30 a.m. Macon Transit Authority bus routes will be delayed until 9 a.m.

Robins Air Force Base personnel have the option of reporting to work two hours late Monday.

Due to the inclement weather St. Joseph Catholic Church canceled its Lenten mission Sunday night. Father Allan McDonald said the mission will begin Monday night at 7 p.m.

About 100 Georgia Power customers in Macon are without power Sunday night, a spokesman says.

The power outages were mostly in the Forest Hill Road area, Riverside Drive area and Vineville Avenue area, said Georgia Power spokesman Jeff Wilson.

Power was expected to be restored Sunday evening, he said.

There were also sporadic power outages throughout the day, with a total of no more than a total of 500 customers without power on and off throughout the day in the Macon area, Wilson said.

Despite above-freezing temperatures, a heavy flurry of snow fell on downtown Atlanta, blanketing cars and creating slushy streets and sidewalks. It hadn't snowed in Atlanta for more than a year - the area received 1.4 inches of snow in January 2008, said Laura Griffith of the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

The late Southern snowfall brought back memories of a large storm in 1993 that forecasters nicknamed the "Snowfall of the Century," affecting the region from Alabama to north of Washington, D.C. on March 13, 1993, Griffith said. In that storm, Atlanta received 4.2 inches of snow and 13 inches of snow fell on Birmingham, Ala.

Georgia transportation officials warned of potential icy conditions on roadways in middle and northern counties through Monday morning. No icing on roadways, bridges or other overpasses had been reported through midday Sunday, but as temperatures drop Sunday night, officials warn motorists that ice could be a threat.

Outside the CNN Center in downtown Atlanta, Flori Kwon of Claremont, Calif. took pictures of her son Jake, 5, playing in the snow.

"He wants to make a snowman but I don't think there's enough snow," Kwon said while large snowflakes landed in her hair. "We're kind of surprised it's snowing."

At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways canceled some Sunday flights and a Federal Aviation Administration Web site said flights to Atlanta were experiencing average delays of nearly two hours.

AirTran spokesman Tad Hutcheson said flights out of Atlanta into the Northeast may also be canceled Sunday night as the messy, developing storm took aim at walloping at wide swath of the East Coast up through Maine.

"I expect the Northeast will be hit pretty hard tonight so our expectations is that people flying into Washington, D.C., and Boston will need to call or check our Web site for possible cancellations," Hutcheson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Delta spokesman Brian Kruse said the airline is monitoring the weather and asking customers flying to, from or through Atlanta to call Delta or check its Web site for updates.

Meanwhile in Middle Georgia, heavy rains and torrential runoff has created minor flooding of the Ocmulgee River in Macon.

As of 5:45 a.m. today the Ocmulgee was at 18.37 feet which is 0.37 feet over flood stage of 18 feet.

The river is expected to continue to rise until Monday morning at 1 a.m. reaching a crest of about 20.2 feet, according to the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service of the National Weather Service.

At 20 feet the Ocmulgee Heritage Trail will flood and lowest sections of Charles Jones Gateway Park will be under water. River forecasters recommend closing the trail when flood stage reaches 19 feet.

The Ocmulgee is not predicted to fall below flood stage until after 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The Oconee River at Milledgeville was not expected to reach flood stage of 27 feet. The latest observation at 6 a.m. today showed the river at 24.14 feet.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

We'd like to share your photos of the snow. E-mail them to yourphotos@macon.com.

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