Weather forecasts predict areas of the country are about to be blasted with ice and snow, quite a rarity in the Deep South. A major blow of freezing rain is expected on Tuesday and could bring with it a scattering of snow and ice across much of the south, eliciting D.O.T. (Department of Transportation) officials from Louisiana to North Carolina to prepare road crews and close schools.
Popular snowbird tourist destinations include Pensacola, Florida, Savannah, Georgia, Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans, Louisiana. However, this year there is a bite in the air, which may discourage tourists from traveling south especially now with temperatures expected to drop into the sub-freezing temperatures along with a mess of ice and snow.
On Monday, coastal Georgia temperatures hovered in the mid-sixties to the low-seventies, encouraging residence to break out their short-sleeve shirts and open their windows. However, Tuesday brought a change in the weather most Georgians are not familiar with or prepared for. A forecast predicting rain followed by sleet in the afternoon and snow is anticipated to arrive on Wednesday morning.
Portions of Georgia have been placed in a winter storm watch beginning Tuesday and lasting into Wednesday. While areas of Georgia will have to prepare for up to 3 inches of snow, a deeper concern rests in the plummeting temperatures mixed with ice.
While the snowfall amounts are minimal and will raise little concern, it is the ice potential that is our greatest worry, stated Jason Dees, meteorologist at the National Weather Service of Peachtree, Georgia. Dees reported parts of Georgia might have a greater impact from the ice than from the snow.
According to officials from Delta Air Lines, whose hub is in Atlanta, over 1,800 flights were canceled prior to the expected winter storm that was forecasted to batter areas of Georgia with snow and sleet, threatening the rest of the Southeast as well.
Delta spokesperson Betsy Talton stated 1,850 flights were canceled across the system on Tuesday starting at 11 a.m. Of the canceled 1,850 canceled flights, 840 flights were from Atlanta. The flights were canceled ahead of the winter weather predicted to blast the south with ice and snow.
Delta is offering passengers the opportunity to make a one-time change on their tickets without the usual change fee if their travel plans take them through Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, Texas or the Carolinas. Delta anticipates flight service to be affected beginning January 28 until January 29, and new tickets must be issued before February 1, 2014.
Weather forecasts predict snow and ice from the Carolinas to Texas by the middle of the week as precipitation moves from the south where cold air is already freezing the nation.
Several school districts in the Carolinas announced they’re sending home students early on Tuesday so they can get home before the bad weather hits. The Outer Banks in North Carolina, known for its warm weather and sparkling beaches, is gearing up for a possible 8 inches of snow.
South Carolina is also faced with the possibility of several inches of snow. The state’s Department of Transportation sent out crews Tuesday to treat the streets with brine and sand to minimize issues caused by ice.
Mississippi has also closed schools and government buildings before the rare snowfall.
Louisiana is also preparing for the blustery blast. Eric Skrmetta, Public Service Commission Chairman, told citizens to stock up on food, fuel-up cars and have cash on hand to prepare for the dangerous icy weather. He stated the next few days looked very grim.
Lafayette Simcoe Food World cashier, Donna Vidrine stated her grocery store was very busy on Monday with people flooding the store to stock up on food, water, diapers and batteries in front of the weather that is about to blast the south with ice and snow.
By Deborah Baran
The Crescent News