Georgia leaders warn of harm from storm’s winds and cold

December 21, 2022 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia officials are warning residents to take precautions against high winds and bitterly cold temperatures from an approaching winter storm.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that officials most fear power outages caused by wind, which could cut off heating to homes and some health care facilities. Officials warn wind could also delay reconnecting power.

“It may be very hard to get the crews to fix a downed power outage until it’s safe to do so,” Kemp said.

Officials said north Georgia mountains could see snow on Thursday and that rain farther south could freeze on roads. Temperatures are forecast to fall below freezing on Thursday and not rise above freezing until Monday in much of Georgia’s northern half.

“If you see a roadway that looks wet on Friday, assume that it’s frozen,” Georgia Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry said in a news conference Wednesday with Kemp.

Workers will begin salting and brining 21,000 miles (34,000 kilometers) of state highways and interstates on Wednesday. Local roads may not be treated, though.

Kemp said he would declare a state of emergency, waiving daily limits on how long propane truck drivers can work. Propane heats both homes and chicken houses for Georgia’s nation-leading poultry industry.

State officials will open warming centers at 18 state parks. Many local governments are also opening warming centers.

James Stallings, director of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, urged people to make preparations to survive for 72 hours without power. He urged people to wrap outdoor pipes, leave indoor faucets dripping and open cabinets under sinks to warm pipes. He also warned people not to use grills, camp stoves or generators indoors, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Stallings asked people traveling away from home during Christmas to make sure neighbors could access their homes in case pipes burst.