Wintry Mix Threatens Parts of South

Wintry Mix Threatens Parts of South

ATLANTA (AP) -- Say it ain't snow!

Yes, some snow is making an appearance in Friday's forecast along with a wintry mix of precipitation across several Deep South states. Any accumulations are expected to melt quickly.

To those Southerners who get panicky at the mere mention of the white stuff, forecasters say, ground temperatures are warm enough that it should be a fleeting brush with winter. Still, the threat of even a half inch (12 millimeters) of snow was cause for alarm in a region that doesn't see regular snowfall.

"It's the first snow of the season and any time you even mention snow in the South, you're going to get people a little panicky," said David Nadler, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office near Atlanta.

The National Weather Service said a half inch to an inch (12-25 millimeters) of snow is forecast across many areas of the South by Friday night. Winter weather advisories have been posted for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas. The advisories were issued for cities including Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Birmingham, Alabama.

News outlets reported snow flurries before daybreak Friday in the north Georgia mountains.

In the Atlanta area, where sporadic ice storms in recent years have paralyzed the freeway system and brought Georgia's biggest city to a standstill, forecasts called for possible light snow accumulations later in the day. As the morning commute began, roads were mostly wet with a light drizzle falling and temperatures still above freezing.

"There's a lot of uncertainty right now" about just where the snow could fall and in what amounts, Nadler cautioned.

Forecasters said the biggest chance for snow was along the Interstate 85 corridor from Alabama crossing Georgia through Atlanta and into South Carolina once the temperature begins falling. Temperatures by sundown Thursday had already begun to dip in Atlanta, where tailgating football fans shivered and huddled around small barbeque grills atop downtown parking decks before a night game between the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and the visiting New Orleans Saints.

For Friday, Nadler said, temperatures in the Atlanta area were expected to range from 35-40 degrees (1-4 Celsius) Friday morning with little fluctuation the rest of the day.

"We're not expecting temperatures to drop below freezing until sometime Friday evening," Nadler said.

That was a sprinkling of good news for Atlanta commuters ahead of the morning rush hour. But Georgia road crews took no chances and were already pre-treating bridges and overpasses late Thursday with a briny water-and-salt mix against any snow or ice.

Bill Shelton, road maintenance director in suburban Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta, said the brine could be used on roads 48 hours ahead of any precipitation.

"The cost to do the whole county, every bridge and overpass, is probably $100 worth of salt," he said Thursday. "It is worth it to be proactive and keep our roads safe for the traveling public."

(KA)