ATLANTA — Gov. Brian Kemp and other officials discussed weather preparations Friday afternoon as north Georgia braces for winter weather expected on Sunday. Kemp said his office has received briefings over the last few days and are ready to mobilize resources and help neighboring states if needed.
"The main message to my fellow Georgians is just be winter weather aware this weekend," he said. "We know for many this long weekend will probably lead to a lot of travel plans across the state. We just want to encourage everyone to stay up to date on the forecast."
"We're throwing all the resources that we have available to this right now and we will throughout the storm," Kemp said.
Kemp was joined by James C. Stallings, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency director, Russell McMurry, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Department of Public Safety Colonel Chris Wright and Georgia National Guard Adjutant General Tom Carden.
"There's still a lot of uncertainty with the level of this storm, but it's pretty clear that we are going to experience a significant weather event in some parts of Georgia over the weekend," Stalling said.
A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for the following counties in Northeast Georgia.
"Northeast Georgia Mountains are some of our largest concerns, so if you are in those area just make sure you are preparing yourself ahead of time," he said.
He added the watch could be upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning or Ice Warning as soon as Friday.
They are also concerned of the possibility of ice on the roads this weekend. Drivers should use caution. McMurry said they've already started treating the roadways.
"It takes about 18 hours to pretreat all these roadways, bridges, and overpasses. We will continue to do this through the night and tomorrow. Our plan is to double-treat the interstates such that we have a barrier that helps delay the onset of ice," he added.
As they prepare for the worst, McMurry said they will also be out on the roads during the weather event. Their efforts will change over Saturday evening into plowing and spreading salt and gravel to help get the accumulation off the roads.
"It will take time for us to clear those 19,500 miles of roads," he added. If ice, trees, and powerlines are down, McMurry said this could slow down there response.
"This is a all hands on deck response from the Georgia Department of Transportation," he explained as many employees will be working through this weather event.
Wright encouraged everyone to stay off the road if possible this weekend. For anyone who has to drive, be sure to check your tires, have gas, and pack your vehicle with blankets in case an emergency arises.
For the latest updates as the forecast develops, follow the 11Alive StormTrackers throughout the weekend.