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Forsyth County agencies prep for possible snow, ice
Forsyth County has five sand/salt trucks with spreaders, four of which have snow plows attached and available to clear roads when winter weather arrives. - photo by For the FCN


* School system ready for winter weather closures.

* Winter weather tips, contacts.

(Updated at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday )

FORSYTH COUNTY — After an unusually warm December, winter is here.

And while it is not expected to be as intense as last year’s ice storm or the “snowpocalypse” of 2014, agencies throughout Forsyth County are preparing for everything.

According to Jodi Gardner, a spokeswoman for the county’s government, the local emergency management agency “continuously monitors conditions and the forecast.”

She said the agency shares that information with county departments and offices to “keep everyone apprised of potential winter weather that may impact the county.”

This includes playing host to National Weather Service briefings at the county’s emergency operations center, where officials from a number of departments, the sheriff’s office and the school system huddle to make decisions.

According to the weather service, a hazardous weather outlook is in effect for portions of north and central Georgia throughout the week, and a winter weather advisory is in effect for Forsyth County until 1 a.m. Thursday.

A chance of rain or freezing rain is expected today, mainly after 1 p.m. and before 10 p.m., with a high of 36 degrees and a low near 31.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Thursday is expected to bring a chance of freezing rain before 10 a.m. Then rain showers are likely, with a high near 43.

Rain should last through the week, with the showers turning into snow over the weekend.

If the weather creates ice, snow or any other hazardous situation, Forsyth’s roads and bridges department will treat county roads with sand, salt and rock.

“The county has five sand/salt trucks with spreaders, four of which have snow plows attached and available for use when needed,” Gardner said. “The county also has two motor graders with blades that are able to scrape the roads.”

If it comes to that, roads and bridges employees begin working 12-hour inclement weather shifts until the situation clears.

“Crews follow the sand/salt order for the primary county roads, bridges and secondary roads and prioritize the hospital and public safety facilities, such as fire stations,” she said.

Blake House, vice president of member services for Cumming-based Sawnee EMC, said the company, which provides electric and power services to most of Forsyth, has meters that signal when power goes out.

“We don’t see anything impending coming up, but always be prepared,” he said. “Especially for those who need oxygen or life-support devices that need electricity, make sure you have enough backup in case the power goes out.”

The sheriff’s office also has equipment to fight inclement weather, including four-wheel drive pickup trucks to reach roads that are too slick for larger emergency vehicles during 911 calls.

A chainsaw team was used last year and will be available again to clear fallen trees and debris from roads, according to Epifanio Rodriguez, a spokesman for the agency.

“We’re also in the process of putting weather tires on all our Chargers,” he said. “Some of the newer ones already have them.”

Those patrol vehicles that do not have weather tires will be issued chains. The sheriff’s office also has pull-out kits to help vehicles that get stuck on or off road.

“We’re right on the fringe of whether or not we’ll get anything,” he said of the weather forecast. “Right now, our plans are to operate as normal, but we have the resources readily available if needed.”