Georgia DOT cautions against nonessential travel as warnings from National Weather Service expand

map of Georgia with affected area of storm outlinedImage from the Georgia Department of Transportation (public domain)

The Georgia Department of Transportation issued the press release reprinted below warning Georgia residents who live in the affected zone, including Cobb County, to avoid nonessential travel until the wintry conditions have passed:

ATLANTA, GA – Georgia Department of Transportation crews continued emergency operations Saturday evening as the National Weather Service(NWS) issued a Winter Storm Warning for areas north of Interstate 20. The NWS also issued a Wind Advisory, Flood Warning, High Wind Warnings, additional Winter Storm Warnings, Winter Weather Advisory and Ice Storm Warning for additional counties in Georgia beginning today and expiring on or before January 17, 2022. The NWS warnings follow Gov. Brian Kemp’s state of emergency declaration for 91 counties in north and central Georgia and metro Atlanta.  

A wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet, ice and snow is currently bearing down on north Georgia with predictions of rain followed by potentially significant amounts of ice and snow in affected areas and gusty winds from 35-to-50 mph. Georgia DOT emergency crews will be closely monitoring the wind conditions for impacts to trees and power lines, and urges the public to stay off the roads – for motorists’ own safety as well as that of first responders and essential work crews.

GDOT crews and their partners are skilled at addressing impacts of inclement weather to roads, highways and bridges. However, conditions such as extremely high winds can be so dangerous to worker and public safety that certain operations may pause until safe conditions resume. GDOT emergency personnel and frontline workers are on round-the-clock staffing for the duration of the storm.

“The safety of the public and our crews is our first priority,” said Russell R. McMurry, Georgia DOT Commissioner. “In addition to the potential for accumulations of ice in some areas, winds of anywhere from 35-50 mph mean there is an ongoing danger from falling trees, limbs and power lines. Crews will do the best they can while conditions allow for them to safely do their jobs, whether it is clearing debris such as downed trees or limbs or treating and clearing roads and bridges to restore optimal travel conditions.”

Georgia DOT has continually worked on a statewide level in partnership with the office of Gov. Kemp, Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Service and state and local officials. The traveling public’s safety is a top priority as Georgia DOT has deployed its readiness plan in the days leading up to the storm and works to maintain the safety of roadways and bridges as winter weather conditions continue. Maintaining the safety and functionality of state roads and bridges is essential before, during and after the storm.

GDOT officials emphasize the hazards of being on the roads during inclement weather, such as high winds, the possibility of downed trees and possible road and bridge closures. The public is advised to avoid all non-essential travel, and to monitor Georgia DOT social media channels and other trusted news sources for details on road closures and other travel issues.

If motorists must travel and encounter a downed tree or other debris in the road, they should stay in their vehicle and call 511. Never try to remove debris from the roadway due to the possibility of downed power lines entangled in the debris, which could be deadly.

Here are some tips on what to report when calling a 511 Operator:

  • Know your current location, including the interstate number and direction from where you are calling or reporting the incident. 
  • Look for a mile marker or an exit sign around you, or some physical landmark to help better establish your location so 511 Operators can more quickly confirm where you are at. 
  • Be ready to describe your vehicle or the vehicle(s) involved in the incident including the make, model and color
  • Be prepared to describe what lane(s) are affected
  • Let the Operator know if there are any potential injuries or persons involved

When calling 511, motorists can say, “Report an incident” to be redirected to a live Operator based out of the Transportation Management Center in Atlanta.

The I-75 Northwest Corridor Express Lanes northwest of Atlanta and the I-75 South Metro Express Lanes south of Atlanta will close at midnight tonight.

For a list of resources and materials related to Georgia DOT’s winter weather preparedness including region specific fact sheets, photos and video, please visit

About the Georgia Department of Transportation

The GDOT describes itself as follows:

Georgia Department of Transportation plans, constructs and maintains Georgia’s state and federal highways. We’re involved in bridge, waterway, public transit, rail, general aviation, bike and pedestrian programs. And we help local governments maintain their roads. Georgia DOT and its nearly 4,000 employees are committed to delivering a transportation system focused on innovation, safety, sustainability and mobility. The Department’s vision is to boost Georgia’s competitiveness through leadership in transportation. 

The GDOT’s governing body is the 14-member State Transportation Board. The board is chosen by the state legislative delegations of each of the 14 congressional districts in Georgia. The board members serve five-year terms.

The board is currently chaired by Emily Dunn from the 9th Congressional District.

The State Transportation Board chooses the commissioner, currently Russell R. McMurry.