Winter storm warnings issued as wintry mix threatens South

Winter storm warnings cover parts of Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas ahead of a storm system that threatens to bring a wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow to the South over the weekend.

The storm system expected to move into the region on Friday could cause slick streets and highways from Texas all the way east to the Carolinas, forecasters said.

Even parts of the deep South — including Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama — are bracing for sleet or snow.

Light to moderate snow could extend from central Alabama to southeastern Virginia late Friday into early Saturday, the federal government's Weather Prediction Center said in an advisory Thursday.

The center said parts of North Carolina could get 4 inches or more of snow. And there is "a slight risk" of 8 inches or more of snow in eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia, it said.

Snow also is possible in Atlanta, where snow and ice have jammed freeways in past storms. The FOX 5 Atlanta storm team projects the area is likely to receive 2 to 4 inches of snow, with slightly higher amounts in some suburbs.

Forecasters say they don't expect the worst of the wintry weather to strike metro Atlanta until after schools dismiss Friday.

Meanwhile, road crews across Georgia are gearing up to deal with snow and ice.

Workers with the Georgia Department of Transportation mixed up batch after batch of brine and readied about 30 tanker trucks on Thursday, FOX 5 Atlanta reported.

“The staging time is the most critical,” GDOT State Maintenance Engineer Dale Brantley told FOX 5. “We want everything in its location when the storm starts.”

This is the third winter that GDOT has had the equipment to pre-treat the highways, after the state was caught by surprise in January 2014 and many drivers were stranded on icy roads by a winter storm.

“Even though the forecast is for snow, we always know it’s going to be ice and that’s what we have to treat and be prepared for that ice to come,” Brantley said.

Based on rush hour and when the storm is expected to arrive, GDOT drivers will hit the roads sometime Friday to begin coating the pavement.

“We’re watching the weather. We’ve got to pick that window of opportunity when we can get out there between when the storm’s going to come in and also with traffic,” Brantley said.  “So, we’re trying to find a precise window of opportunity to be out there are start our pre-treatment operations.”

Officials are asking drivers to give the trucks extra room to work once they begin pre-treating the interstates.

Futher north in the Carolinas, the snow is expected to be heaviest during the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, then slowly tapering off through the late morning and early afternoon, FOX Carolina reported.

The American Red Cross is urging safety for the region ahead of the impending winter weather.

“Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths, and the risk of home fires increases in colder weather,” Louise Welch Williams, CEO for the Red Cross in South Carolina told FOX Carolina. “With the onset of winter in South Carolina, it’s more important than ever to be vigilant when it comes to personal safety and staying warm this winter.”

Several airlines are also making accommodations, since the world’s most traveled airport is expected to be affected this weekend by the winter weather.

Delta Air Lines has issued a travel waiver for Friday and Saturday for travelers departing or flying to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The airline said they will waive fees for a one-time ticket change, according to FOX 5 Atlanta. A full list of those areas affected can be found on their website.

Southwest and United airlines also have similar travel advisories on their websites.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.