0

More rain and snow predicted for tonight

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

A forecaster at the National Weather Service's office in Peachtree City said there is a 30 percent chance "a couple tenths" of an inch of snow, rain -- or both -- will fall tonight in Clayton and Henry counties.

Mike Leary, a weather service forecaster, said the winter weather will begin falling around midnight, and continue to come down until early Saturday morning. Overnight temperatures will reach 32 degrees. The snow is the result of cold air, and moisture coming off of the Gulf of Mexico. The moisture was also responsible for the snow fall on Wednesday.

Tonight's snow is expected to be part of the last vestiges of the moist air coming off of the gulf.

"It won't even accumulate on the ground," Leary said. "That'll be it for the next four days. Our forecasts don't extend beyond that period."

The Southern Crescent was already blasted by snow and rain once this week. Snow fell across north Georgia on Wednesday, but the flurries turned to rain mid-way through the evening. And temperatures did not drop below freezing, so the snow began to melt.

On Sunday and Monday, the weather is expected to return to what has become normal this winter, Leary said. This means the air will be dry and cool, with highs in the low-50's, and lows in the mid-20's. No rain, or snow, is expected to fall on either day.

The weather service's Peachtree City office operates a telephone hotline, and residents can call in to hear an automated message with the extended forecasts through the next five days. The hotline can be reached at (770) 632-1837.

Wednesday's weather did not pose a serious threat to most of Clayton and Henry counties.

Capt. Landry Merkison, a spokesman for the Clayton County Fire Department, said the weather did not have a significant impact on the number of accidents occurring in the county. Capt. Sabrina Puckett, a spokesperson for the Henry County Fire Department, said there was "no significant impact" on the other side of the county line, either.

Georgia Power received reports of 9,000 power outages across Georgia on Wednesday night, including 2,000 in the South Metro Region, which includes Clayton, Henry and Coweta counties.

Leary said the weather service does not have snow fall measurements for all of Clayton and Henry counties from Wednesday. He said less than one-half of an inch of snow fell on Wednesday at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which experienced the most significant effects in the two counties.

Susan Elliott, a spokesperson for Delta Air Lines, said the air line had to cancel about 70 incoming and outgoing flights on Thursday because of the weather. She did not have the number of cancellations from Wednesday. She also said the airline's maintenance crews spent Wednesday night de-icing lanes, but stopped at about 6 a.m., on Thursday, because the ice was beginning to melt on its own.

"We're getting back on schedule," said Elliott, late on Thursday. "When something like this happens, it always takes [a little while] to totally recover."

She added that the airline would not have a decision about how to handle tonight's expected weather until this morning.

Tad Hutcheson, the vice president of marketing for AirTran Airways, said 40 flights had to be canceled on Wednesday night because of the weather, and another 10 were canceled on Thursday. Many of the cancellations were pre-canceled flights, where passengers were contacted by AirTran representatives in advance to let them know their flight would be canceled.

"We tried to thin out the number of planes we had coming in to Atlanta [Wednesday night] because we didn't want too many planes needing to be de-iced arriving at the same time," Hutcheson said. "We de-iced 10 planes that were staying on the ground overnight in Atlanta, and other planes as they came in to the airport."

Hutcheson added that AirTran was back on schedule by late Thursday afternoon. He said airline officials were watching the weather reports. By Thursday night, they had not made any decisions about canceling incoming and outgoing flights for Hartsfield-Jackson.

Herschel Grangent, a spokesman for Hartsfield-Jackson, said the airport's customer service department made sure travelers were taken care of during the storm. Airport officials made sure at least one restaurant on every concourse was kept open during the storm, so travelers would be able to get something to eat while they waited for a flight.

"In situations like this, the main concern is our customers who have been inconvenienced," Grangent said.

- Daniel Silliman and Jason Smith contributed to this report