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Winter Is Coming Be Prepared

Sawnee EMC
Two Sawnee EMC trucks sit beside each other ready to be deployed. Much of these saw use during the deep freeze in 2022 as power outages occurred throughout North Georgia.

As Georgia gets closer to winter with each passing day, residents may wonder what they should expect during this year’s cold period.

Last year, the state experienced an especially harsh winter, including an incredible arctic blast from what the National Weather Service dubbed a “once-in-a-generation storm” in late December. On Christmas Eve, Atlanta felt temperature lows of 8 degrees Fahrenheit, with highs only reaching 28 F.

The extreme cold was responsible for power outages that left local offices swamped during their holiday season. Joey Smith, the Forsyth County Emergency Management Deputy Director, said that his office was hard-pressed when a local water facility lost its ability to refill water towers.

“It never got to a critical level, but we were putting plans in place and urging communities to conserve water in case it did.”- Joey Smith, Forsyth County Deputy Director of Emergency Management

In addition, the county water treatment plant experienced trouble with frozen components, according to Department of Water and Sewer Director Scott Adams. Because of this, the staff spent Christmas in the field addressing the situation.

With meteorologists watching the potential for colder and wetter-than-average conditions via a strong El Niño, this winter is shaping to be no different. Local and state officials, however, are hard at work to make sure residents are ready for anything nature throws at them. 

Natalie Dale, Statewide Media Contact for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said that GDOT crews recently held training exercises with other state officials. 

“Additionally, emergency response personnel and state emergency coordinators work with other states throughout the year to increase knowledge and use of best practices when it comes to inclement weather.” -Natalie Dale, GDOT Statewide Media Contact 

GDOT has an abundance of resources ready for wintry weather, including 1,922 employees on standby covering 40,359 miles of interstate and state roads, 53,880 tons of salt for pavement, and 393 snow removal dump trucks. 

Blake House, Vice President of Member Services for the Sawnee Electric Membership Corporation, believed that his company takes outage response very seriously, and while any weather event holds its challenge, his staff plans and prepares accordingly. Sawnee EMC has hundreds of contractors and electrical line workers ready for duty at any time.

As winter inches closer, state and regional officials are making all necessary preparations. Nevertheless, residents should not shy away from having their own plans when arctic weather strikes. 

House advised that citizens should make sure they have enough necessities such as batteries, water, flashlights, and charged cell phones. They should also have a backup plan for more severe widespread outages. 

Dale said that residents should limit driving when inclement weather is approaching, as well as when it passes. In addition, they should wait for the all-clear from GDOT saying that roads are safe to travel on. 

Winter is still a little under two months away. However, residents should start making preparations to be ready for whatever is in store this year.


To learn more about the 2023 El Niño: 

Climate Phenomenon Raises Likelihood of Harsh Winter in North Georgia – Vanguard ( 

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Jack Thurmond
Jack Thurmond, Staff Writer
Hello there! My name is Jack Thurmond. This is my third year at the University of North Georgia, and I am studying communications to become a sports journalist. I joined the Vanguard because it gives me the window to experience things I typically would not get to.
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