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'Historic' winter storm threatens Southeast, Mid-Atlantic with snow, freezing rain

By Andrew V. Pestano
'Historic' winter storm threatens Southeast, Mid-Atlantic with snow, freezing rain
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has pr-emptively declared a state of emergency ahead of a winter storm that could bring up to half of foot of snow in the Atlanta area by Saturday due to a winter storm affecting the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Image courtesy NOAA

ATLANTA, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- The National Weather Service on Friday issued winter storm warnings for parts of the southeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States, where heavy snow is forecast to fall.

Winter storm warnings are in effect for central Alabama, northern and central Georgia, western North Carolina, most of South Carolina and parts of southern Virginia.

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The National Weather Service warns heavy snow is possible for Mid-Atlantic states Friday night, while sleet, freezing rain or snow is possible in the Southeast.

"A developing low pressure system in the northern Gulf of Mexico is expected to bring a range of precipitation types from the lower Mississippi valley to the southern Mid-Atlantic region today into Saturday," the National Weather Service said in a statement.

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States in the southern plains to the Mid-Atlantic should see afternoon high temperatures from 10 to 20 degrees below average by Saturday afternoon.

The Weather Channel warned travel could become increasingly difficult in the Southeast beginning Friday night night due to snow possibly melting and leading to dangerous conditions that could last until Monday.

Ahead of the incoming winter storm, some government officials have taken action.

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RELATED At least 5 killed in severe storms in southern U.S.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal pre-emptively declared a state of emergency. Residents of Georgia's northern half have been advised to acquire enough food and water to last three days. The Atlanta Metropolitan area could see up to a half foot of snow by Saturday.

"We're looking at a significant event," Sue Loeffler, director of Georgia's Emergency Management Agency, told residents. "Go to the grocery store now."

"This can potentially be a historic weather event," Michael Thurmond, chief executive of DeKalb County in metro Atlanta, said.

In January 2014, Deal declared a state of emergency after tens of thousands of motorists became stuck in traffic when less than 3 inches of snow, which turned to ice, fell in the Atlanta area in an incident known as Snow Jam 2014.

North Carolina Gov.-elect Roy Cooper said officials canceled most of this weekend's inauguration ceremonies in Raleigh, including a traditional inaugural parade, in anticipation of the winter storm.

"The Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies has postponed the inaugural events on Saturday and Sunday after consultation with North Carolina Emergency Management," Cooper said in a statement.

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