Overnight ice-up could wreak morning havoc

Midstaters play wait and see as wintry mix crawls in

jkovac@macon.comJanuary 28, 2014 

Winter weather with its icy wallop was on the way.

Storm warnings were issued, schools shut down, offices closed and then ... nothing.

For much of Tuesday, the midstate was blanketed in a drab quilt of overcast as slow-to-arrive wintry slush traversed other parts of the Southeast.

Snow coated some of Georgia’s northern reaches and, by midday, flurries were dusting metropolitan Atlanta.

For midstaters, though, it was a day of patchy drizzle and hurry up and wait, a “snow day” minus the snow.

Until evening, when temperatures nosed toward freezing and cold rain gradually gave way to sleet.

The first snowflakes of any consequence here since February 2010 weren’t due until 10 p.m. or so when the first traces of about an inch of the white stuff were expected to start sticking.

“Of course, that’ll be mixed with all kinds of other sleet and freezing rain,” said meteorologist Ryan Willis of the National Weather Service’s Peachtree City post.

“It’s not gonna be the best driving conditions at all. ... And it might not be the best weather for making snowballs.”

‘Pretty slick roadways’

Forecasters had said sleet or snow might not blow in until late afternoon Tuesday.

Even so, many area schools and municipalities battened down the hatches just in case. Classes across Middle Georgia were called off for Tuesday and Wednesday.

And it was Wednesday’s conditions that forecasters and emergency officials were most concerned about.

A winter storm warning for snow, sleet and freezing rain is still in effect across the region until mid-morning Wednesday.

Accumulations of 1 to 3 inches were possible in a wide swath of Georgia south and east of Interstate 85.

Most of the snow and whatever else might stick was expected overnight Tuesday, when temperatures were in the mid-20s. South of around Columbus, Macon and Dublin, an inch of accumulation or less was in the offing.

Wednesday morning’s low of about 23 degrees, with wind gusts up to 15 mph, will come “right as the light snow is moving out” about 8 a.m., Willis said.

Wednesday’s high temperature was forecast in the middle 30s.

“So anything that does fall (overnight Tuesday) will have a hard time melting much before it drops back below freezing Wednesday evening,” Willis said. “You’ll see some pretty slick roadways still.”

Cold cash

As anxiety built Tuesday, many locals went about their business as usual.

Schools were out, but the dreary chill appeared to keep most youngsters indoors.

At Macon Seafood on Mercer University Drive -- where they had, yes, snow crabs -- clerk Tenzima Nyima and his coworkers cleaned and sorted fish. Their front door was wide open.

Nyima said workers’ hands are always in iced-down seafood, so they’re used to the cold.

But he said the game of wait and see with the weather probably did keep some customers away.

“Right now we are not really sure whether it will come or not,” Nyima said. “It says it’s gonna come, but we’re not too sure.”

Farther out Mercer past the Macon Mall late Tuesday morning, Scott Person was on the sidewalk sporting a Statue of Liberty costume.

Person works for Liberty Tax Service. He was trying to drum up business -- and keep warm.

Person strutted and spun in the 37-degree chill, all the while dancing with a placard that read, “Get $50 Now.”

“Freezing my butt off,” said Person, who was about an hour into a four-hour shift. “Got to keep moving. ... I might be out here when it starts snowing.”

Aaron Brown, the service’s marketing manager, sent another Statue of Liberty-clad staffer out to join Person in hopes of waving in customers before the weather went south.

“Our owner stays in Kansas City, and he’s thinking when the snow falls that everything’s gonna still be going on,” Brown said.

“But a if little bit of ice falls in Macon, you ain’t gonna see nobody. ... I’m gonna try to be sitting behind a pot of soup when it gets nasty.”

To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.

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