A state of emergency took effect Wednesday afternoon in Georgia and three other southern states, as the unusually severe winter that has blasted the eastern United States prepared to strike yet again. Winter Storm Remus had already begun dumping snowfall across the south by Wednesday evening — snowfall that the generally temperate south rarely sees.
By early Wednesday evening, airlines had already scrapped more than 1,700 domestic flights, with more cancellations on the way Thursday. At least 2,600 flights had been delayed over those two days, according to the flight-tracking site Flight Aware.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal wasted no time, putting a state of emergency into effect starting at 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon in 50 Georgia counties.
"With forecasts showing we could see accumulation by 4 p.m., I want to make sure we get as many commuters home before then as possible," said Deal in a statement Tuesday. "While current models show that temperatures will remain above freezing, we don't want to run the risk of having normal rush hour traffic volume if there's snow or ice on the highways."
Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina also issued state of emergency declarations. In Alabama, roads were already unpassable in many areas by late Wednesday, with the town of Piedmont closing down every street within its limits due to snow accumulations that made driving extremely hazardous.
At about 4:30 p.m., snow was falling at the rate of one inch per hour in northern Georgia, the hardest hit area of the state, with snowfall not expected to let up completely until around 5 a.m. Thursday morning.
While Georgia's capital city of Atlanta was expected to receive mostly rainfall from Winter Storm Remus, areas north of the city could get socked with about four inches of the white stuff, which may not seem like a lot by the standards of the U.S. northeast, which has been buried under several feet of snow throughout the winter of 2014/15, but with winter storms a rarity in the south, a four-inch snowfall poses a serious challenge.
Remus is also the fourth storm to sweep across the weather-weary south in the past two weeks — in a region that typically sees just two days of snow per year, according to Weather.com meteorologist Chris Dolce.
During a storm last year, commuters found themselves stuck on impassable icy roads for, in some cases, as long as 36 hours. The Georgia state of emergency this time around was an effort by Deal to avoid a repeat of that debacle.
[Image: Erik S. Lesser/Getty Images]