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Gov. Deal appoints meteorologists, officials to weather task force

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (C), speaks to the media as Public Safety Director Mark McDonough (L), and Georgia National Guard Director General Jim Butterworth listen at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, January 30, 2014.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (C), speaks to the media as Public Safety Director Mark McDonough (L), and Georgia National Guard Director General Jim Butterworth listen at the State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia, January 30, 2014.

Less than a week after a winter storm stranded several thousand motorists on interstates around Atlanta, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed a task force to better communicate with residents about future storms.

The Governor’s Severe Winter Weather Warning and Preparedness Task Force consists of meteorologists from the four television stations, officials from transportation and public safety departments, school superintendents, state legislators, the business community and cell phone providers.

Deal on Monday also said an Amber Alert-style system would send a message to cell phones in targeted areas to advise against traveling. The state would also overhaul the state emergency mobile application with shelter information, alternative transportation routes and other emergency-related information, Deal said.

Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed received considerable criticism for their response in the days since last week’s storm that brought one to three inches of snow around metro Atlanta, and caused major traffic problems.

Deal, who praised local meteorologists for their forecast ahead of the storm, said he’s ordered the Georgia Emergency Management Agency to consult with local meteorologists on current weather modeling and predictions.

The task force will meet in an open setting and deliver recommendations to Deal within 60 days of its first meeting.

An internal review by agency heads involved in emergency response will give a report and action plan to the governor within 10 days.

“We made reforms after the 2011 storm on how we treat our roads, and because of that, we have more road treatment facilities located in more critical areas,” Deal said at an afternoon news conference. “All the equipment and the all supplies in the world won’t help if the trucks can’t get on the roads. We’ve got to communicate quicker and more effectively on the front end to keep as many vehicles off the road as possible.”

The task force members are listed below:

Bart Gobeil (Chair), Governor’s Office Chief Operating Officer

Charley English, GA Emergency Management Agency, Executive Director

Keith Golden, Dept. of Transportation, Commissioner

Mark Williams, Dept. of Natural Resources, Commissioner

Mark McDonough, Dept. of Public Safety, Commissioner

Jim Butterworth, Dept. of Defense, Major General

Jannine Miller, GA Regional Transportation Authority, Executive Director

Chris Tomlinson, State Road and Tollway Authority, Executive Director

Glenn Burns, WSB, Chief Meteorologist

Markina Brown, CBS, Chief Meteorologist

Ken Cook, Fox 5, Chief Meteorologist

Chesley McNeil, 11 Alive, Meteorologist

Robert Avossa, Fulton County Schools, Superintendent

Emily Lembeck, Marietta City Schools, Superintendent

Michael Thurmond, DeKalb County Schools, Superintendent

Keith Parker, MARTA, General Manager/CEO

Ed Crowell, Georgia Motor Trucking, President and CEO

Jeffrey Parker, HNTB Corp.; former Connecticut DOT commissioner Vice President

Anthony Wilson, Georgia Power, Executive VP, Customer Service and Operations

Jerry Donovan, Georgia Transmission Corporation, President and CEO

Hala Moddelmog, Metro Atlanta Chamber, President

Gil West, Delta Senior VP, Airport Customer Service and TechOps

Steve Thompson, GA State Senate, District 33

Steve Gooch, GA State Senate, District 51

Jay Roberts, GA House of Representatives, District 155

Mike Glanton, GA House of Representatives, District 75

Kelvin Cochran, City of Atlanta, Fire Chief

George Turner, Atlanta Police Department, Chief of Police

Awaiting Confirmation, National Weather Service

Awaiting Confirmation, AT&T

Awaiting Confirmation, Verizon Wireless

Awaiting Confirmation, Metro Atlanta Municipality