Photo by Corinne Nicholson
LAWRENCEVILLE -- As the first flurries fell Thursday in what was anticipated to be a dusting of snow across Gwinnett, some residents hurried to stock up on staples as schools canceled afternoon and evening activities to brace for whatever the weather would bring.
Some residents didn't buy into the hype surrounding the potential wintry mix.
Although her evening classes at Gainesville College were canceled Thursday, Lawrenceville resident Beth Spangler was still planning to attend her 11 a.m. class today.
"(I expect) probably ice up there, but I don't think it will be too bad," she said. "It's more people who don't know how to drive in this weather."
The Georgia DOT readied its arsenal of equipment Thursday for a possible winter weather battle today.
With falling temperatures overnight creating the potential for ice to form on roadways for today's commute, DOT personnel will first focus on clearing any hazards on the interstate system, followed by four- and five-lane state routes carrying most of the local traffic.
While roadways are the DOT's top priority, they aren't the department's only concern.
"With our two-year drought, the trees were weak to start with, then after the deluge we've had recently that weakened the root systems more, we're very concerned when ice starts forming," said DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope. "We're worried we're going to have an epidemic of falling trees."
Downed power lines and non-working traffic signals are also a concern when winter weather sweeps in, and more than 300 DOT employees were on call in the department's District 1, which includes Gwinnett.
County transportation employees made preparations Thursday to combat potential road hazards, checking equipment and dipping into stockpiles of a premixed gravel and salt mixture to load a few trucks before going on standby to wait and see what the night would bring.
"We are prepared for almost anything," said Kim Conroy, deputy director for the county DOT. "We're normally always ahead of the storm."
Drivers who encounter county or state DOT crews on roadways should not pass trucks spreading salt/stone mixtures and should follow no closer than 100 feet behind the vehicles. Those who can avoid traveling on icy roadways are encouraged to stay home.
While the precipitation may have moved out of the Gwinnett area during the night, National Weather Service Meteorologist Matt Sena said Gwinnett residents should brace for low temperatures to remain.
"It's just going to stay very, very cold through the weekend," he said.
Temperatures are expected to fall into the teens overnight Saturday and Sunday.
"There is an indication that we we'll start warming up the beginning of next week," Sena said, "start pushing highs up into the 40s, maybe 50 degrees."