Residents heed warnings about icy Georgia roads, frolic instead
Governor declares state of emergency in Georgia for winter storm
Georgia residents appeared to be heeding warnings from transportation officials about icy conditions from a winter storm blasting the area Wednesday.
Few drivers were on the roads, but residents could be seen playing in the dusting of snow that fell in Southeast Georgia.
Snowfall could be seen in Waycross, Alma, Baxley, Blackshear, Patterson, Nahunta and other pockets around Georgia. Alma residents told News4Jax they hadn't seen snowfall in about seven years.
Chris Walker said he enjoyed a snowball fight Wednesday.
"I never seen this much snow here," Walker said. "I ain't never been out of Alma really. It's amazing."
When Jacksonville resident Dustin Mowrey found out parts of South Georgia had been blanketed with a rare snow event, he and his son, Tyson, hopped in the family pickup truck and drove an hour and 30 minutes to Waycross.
“It was great. Actually, his birthday is New Year’s Eve, and he said he wanted us to go see some snow," Mowrey said. "Luckily, it came to us a little bit.”
Wednesday was Tyson's first time playing in snow.
"I like it," Tyson told News4Jax.
While the father and son enjoyed a bonding moment, many locals stayed indoors, leaving their parked cars covered in snow and ice.
Transportation officials asked drivers to “stay put" Wednesday, and some residents expressed concern about the possibility of black ice on the roadways Thursday after the temperatures drop overnight with ice and snow already on the highways.
Brunswick Highway looked clear of any ice or snow. Officials had trucks with plows and salt roaming the town Wednesday to help keep the roads safe. But back roads and bridges could still be icy.
Residents of St. George in Charlton County flocked to a gas station near the center of town to fill up, fearing possible power outages. Thousands were without power Wednesday afternoon in Glynn, Camden and Charlton counties.
Ice could be seen on trees and power lines in the area.
An accident before 7 a.m. Wednesday closed the Sidney Lanier Bridge south of Brunswick but the bridge has been reopened, county officials said.
The Talmadge Bridge in Savannah was closed because of ice.
Ice was confirmed Wednesday afternoon on the Jekyll Island Causeway bridge. Sustained winds and ice have downed many limbs and some power lines on Jekyll Island. All residents and guests are advised to remain inside unless travel is absolutely necessary.
Bridges from Blackshear to Waycross and the Plant Avenue Bridge connecting Ware and Pierce counties were closed Wednesday morning. Injuries resulted from an accident on the Plant Avenue Bridge just before it was closed. The bridge reopened later.
Pierce County closed all its bridges Wednesday morning due to icing but reopened the bridges around noon.
Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal late Tuesday declared a state of emergency for 28 counties in the coastal region.
The counties included in the executive order are: Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Candler, Coffee, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Echols, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Lanier, Lowndes, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Toombs, Ware and Wayne.
The executive order will be in effect from Wednesday through 11:59 p.m. Friday.
The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency urged residents to protect the three Ps: People, pets and plants.
Thursday is Weather Authority Alert morning for freezing temperatures and ice
NWS watches, warnings, winter weather forecast | Latest power outage numbers in Southeast Georgia | School closings | Status of bridges, roads
Ware has closed its Courthouse, government offices and department buildings Wednesday for all non-essential workers.
The county has sand ready in case roads and bridges turn icy. Waycross has four sand trucks on standby in case the roads get too dangerous for drivers. The city will decide when to use them as the weather unfolds.
According to City Manager Raphel Maddox, the city of Waycross closed all offices Wednesday and will resume operations at 11 a.m. Thursday. Maddox said the decision was made as a safety precaution for all city residents and employees. Employees who are deemed essential will still need to report to city office buildings in Waycross at their normal start time.
County offices will also be closed Wednesday, according to County Manager Scott Moye. Essential personnel must still report to work.
Ware County Emergency Management will have a warming shelter open until 8 a.m. Friday at the Waycross Auditorium, which is located at 865 Pendleton St.
The shelter opened at 4 p.m. Tuesday with about 30 cots. But there are roughly 100 more cots on standby if needed.
The city manager said limited food and beverages will be available at the shelter. People are also reminded to bring any medication they may need.
"We'll have coffee, limited food," Maddox told News4Jax on Tuesday. "We'll have some firefighters and EMTs here throughout the night just to ensure that everything is safe."
The shelter is unable to accommodate animals. For more information, call 912-287-4499.
Hope Transportation will provide services to and from the shelter. Anyone who needs a ride can call 912-288-4582.
County officials remind residents to protect pets, plants and pipes.
"We want our citizens to stay off the streets, stay home and stay in a warm place," Maddox said. "If you know of anybody who doesn't have a warm place, please get them to the city auditorium as soon as possible.”
Winter weather conditions are expected to continue throughout Glynn County. Although the winter precipitation has passed the area, many areas are still wet or covered in ice. Temperatures are expected to stay below freezing until around 11 a.m. on Thursday. There will be a continued threat of black ice on the roads, low-hanging limbs, downed trees, and power outages.
Protect yourself tonight by sheltering-in-place. Protect your house by allowing your faucets to drip. Protect your pets by bringing them inside.
Glynn County offices will remain closed until noon on Thursday. The closure includes all offices in the Harold Pate building, Glynn County Courthouse, Glynn County Historic Courthouse and Recreation and Parks throughout the community. Brunswick City Hall will also follow these hours of closure. All public safety services, including fire and law enforcement will remain open.
The Glynn County airports will be closed until 11 a.m. on Thursday.
A warming shelter has been opened at First United Methodist Church at 1400 Norwich St. from 5 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Thursday and Friday. Cots will not be provided at this location. The Well will operate a daytime shelter as usual from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
911 is for emergencies only. Please call the appropriate authorities for power outages, water outages, or other non-emergency issues.
To report downed trees call the Glynn County Non-emergency Line at 912-554-3645. For limbs or trees on power lines or power outages please call Georgia Power at 1-888-891-0938 or Okefenoke Rural EMC at 1-800-262-5131.
Georgia Power and Okefenoke Rural EMC have resources in place to respond as quickly as possible to power outages. Be prepared for a loss of power. Ice and snow buildup on trees can cause them to fall and damage power lines. Have battery powered lighting, plenty of water, ready to eat foods, and warm clothing or blankets on hand. Do not use gas heaters or generators indoors without proper ventilation.
Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and Glynn County Public works will continue to monitor roadway conditions and take necessary precautions. Intersections with downed traffic lights or non-functioning lights should be treated as a four-way stop. Come to a complete stop at the intersection and take turns based upon your arrival.
During these wintry conditions:
- Limit any unnecessary travel during cold/freezing conditions. Black ice is extremely hard to spot and can cause serious injuries or accidents. Please remember that bridges will be the first to ice.
- If driving, be sure to clear all windows and mirrors to avoid limited vision and blind spots.
- To avoid broken or bursting pipes in your home, run a faucet at a slow drip and slight stream. This will keep activity in your pipes and avoid freezing. In the case of a burst pipe, know where your shut off valves are. Turn your sprinkler systems off to avoid unnecessary ice buildup.
- DON’T FORGET YOUR PETS! Please bring your pets indoors to a nice warm dry area with food and water.
For more helpful tips during winter weather please visits these sites:
Due to potentially hazardous road conditions in Glynn County and southeast Georgia, all Glynn County School System employees will not be required to report to work on Wednesday. Due to the winter holiday, students were not scheduled to return to school until Thursday.
The Glynn CountySchool System has canceled school on Thursday due to the severe weather conditions in southeast Georgia.
A decision regarding opening schools on Friday will be made as soon as possible on Thursday after consultation with emergency management officials.
The Glynn County Board of Education meetings scheduled for Jan. 4 and Jan. 9 will be rescheduled for one week later.
The College of Coastal Georgia will remain closed on Thursday.
With storm conditions anticipated to improve, Jekyll Island Authority offices, amenities, and operations are scheduled to reopen at 10 a.m. Thursday, pending any changes in the forecast.
Due to weather conditions, Waste Management garbage collection services have been delayed. Waste Management anticipates resuming garbage collection Thursday afternoon and will continue on Jekyll Island through Friday.
At the height of the storm there were more than 600 customers without power on Jekyll Island. As of 5 p.m., only 67 were still in the dark.
If you experience a power outage, you must report it directly to Georgia Power – not the JIA or the Jekyll Fire Station. The Georgia Power toll-free number to report a power outage is (888) 891-0938. You may also report an outage via web: http://outagemap.georgiapower.com/external/default.html
After monitoring the latest forecast for the coastal area, county officials said they decided to close all Camden County offices Wednesday and keep them closed Thursday.
The wet roads combined with below-freezing temperatures overnight have the potential to cause black ice throughout the county. This, coupled with the increasing number of downed power lines, lead to an unsafe situation for all drivers. All Camden County residents are urged to stay off of the roads.
Camden County Schools will be closed Thursday. All official announcements will be made on the Camden County Schools website, local radio station KBAY 106.3, local radio station WECC 89.3, through School Messenger, and via the Camden County Schools Facebook page.
Officials asked Camden County residents to continue to monitor the weather conditions through the National Weather Service. Regular updates will also be posted to the Camden County website and the Facebook pages for Camden County Government and Camden County Emergency Management Agency.
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Georgia health departments close
Due to anticipated severe winter weather conditions, all health departments and public health facilities in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long and McIntosh counties will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday
Facilities are expected to reopen at 8 a.m. Friday.
Georgia health officials apologized for any inconvenience and said updates would be posted to the department's website: gachd.org.
Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.