Eye on the sky: County, city brace for possible snow

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

COVINGTON -- With a 100 percent chance of snow predicted today, local public works departments, law enforcement and the school system are keeping an eye on the sky and preparing to take care of the ground if ice should create problems.

The National Weather Service predicted light rain and snow would be falling by daybreak today. The chance of snow is at 100 percent between 1 and 4 p.m. The snow line looks to be from Atlanta to Athens southward and an accumulation of 1 to 3 inches is expected.

Newton County Sheriff's Office Spokesman Cpl. Anthony Washington reminded motorists to be especially cautious when driving in snow and ice.

"We ask that everyone use due care when traveling on wet and icy roads. In the event of bad weather conditions, citizens should always have a contingency plan. The Sheriff's Office will continue to assist other emergency agencies in the event of dangerous road conditions. If the conditions worsen, we will have emergency personnel on standby," Washington said.

Newton County Fire Service is also preparing for hazardous weather.

"Snow is a hindrance for us in response and additional automobile accidents, but obviously ice is the kicker. That's when it really affects everyone," said Newton County Fire Service Chief Mike Satterfield. "Hopefully, it's not going to be anything that will be that big of an event for us. But if ice comes and power lines start falling and transformers exploding, folks will start calling about that ... Sometimes we get a call from someone who's on an oxygen system or a ventilation system and they have no power, so all those kinds of things come into play."

Meanwhile, officials with the Newton County School System were taking a wait- and-see approach before making any announcements regarding school closings.

"We will follow the procedures in place when inclement weather is predicted," said Newton County School System Director of Public Relations Sherri Viniard. "The school superintendent will monitor the forecasts and the current weather conditions to make a determination if school needs to be delayed, canceled, or if students need to be released early. He consults with the Sheriff's Office and our transportation department as road conditions are a major factor in determining our status. Once a decision is made, it will be released to the media and to parents through a school messenger call."

Billy Bouchillon, public works director for the city of Covington, said crews will be on standby should roads and sidewalks need clearing.

"We'll load up trucks with sand and salt tonight," he said Thursday. "Three or four of the last five weeks, there's been the possibility of bad weather, so we're prepared. We bought 500 pounds of de-icer for the sidewalks last time we had snow. We've still got some of that."

Bouchillon added that motorists can do their part to keep the roads safe by simply staying home unless it's absolutely necessary they be on the road.

Covington utility customers and residents can report outages and road problems by calling 770-385-2000 and dialing 1.

Newton County Public Works also has salt spreaders at the ready, said Roads Superintendent Robert Griffith.

"We've got two small salt spreaders to take care of the bridges and intersections and a bigger one to do longer stretches of road with," he said. "We're getting them ready and we're going to be monitoring it (Friday) afternoon."

To report problems with roadways residents can call the Newton County Sheriff's Office at 678-625-1400. The Sheriff's Office will notify the public works department of any complaints, Griffith said.

Snapping Shoals customers can call 770-786-3483 to report outages or downed power lines 24 hours a day.

"As always, we have several crews that are prepared and on standby in case of any inclement weather," said spokeswoman Leigh-Anne Burgess.

News Editor Barbara Knowles and Staff Reporter Michelle Floyd contributed to this story.