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January 27, 2014

Snow, ice could snarl Ga. from Atlanta to Savannah

ATLANTA —

A blast of freezing precipitation expected to arrive Tuesday could scatter snow and ice across Georgia from metro Atlanta to southern parts of the state normally immune to winter accumulation such as Americus and Savannah.

Much of the state was under a winter storm watch starting Tuesday morning. The National Weather Service said central Georgia was likely to see the most snowfall, especially overnight Tuesday, with up to 3 inches of accumulation possible from Columbus to Macon and even Vidalia. But there was also a threat of treacherous conditions farther south, where freezing rain and sleet could form up to ½ inch of ice in the Savannah area.

"The snowfall amounts are going to matter very little in this situation because of the ice potential," said Jason Deese, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. "Some parts of the state may end up seeing the greatest impact just because they get more ice than snow."

Forecasters were predicting snow and ice from Texas to the Carolina by mid-week as precipitation moving in from the south met with cold air already chilling the region.

Computer models were having a hard time predicting exactly what areas would get hit and how much snow and ice to expect, Deese said. But it looked like few parts of Georgia could expect to be bypassed completely.

On Monday morning, the Weather Service shifted expanded its winter storm watch area further north to include metro Atlanta, where up to 2 inches of snow were possible. There was a chance of freezing rain and sleet across southern Georgia from Albany to Alma.

"We have increasing confidence a winter storm is going to affect portions of Georgia," Deese said. "It's just a matter of which portions of Georgia."

Forecasters warned icy roads could make driving dangerous in much of the state, especially overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. And frozen tree limbs falling onto power lines could cause widespread power outages in some areas.

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