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ATLANTA (AP) — Say it ain't going to snow in the Deep South, is it?
Forecasters called for a mix of snow and sleet Friday in several states, causing heartache for Southerners who have endured epic traffic jams at the first sign of wintry weather.
The good news is that while up to an inch (2.5 centimeters) of snow may fall by Friday night, the ground temperatures should be warm enough to melt it quickly.
"It's the first snow of the season and any time you even mention snow in the South, you're going to get people a little panicky," said David Nadler, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office near Atlanta.
The weather service issued winter weather advisories for areas from Louisiana to Georgia, including Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; and Birmingham, Alabama. Snow may hit parts of Louisiana and Mississippi by the Friday morning commute.
In the metro Atlanta area, where ice storms in recent years have paralyzed the freeway system and brought the city to a standstill, forecasts call for light snow accumulations.
"There's a lot of uncertainty right now," Nadler said.
On Thursday, forecasters said the best chance for the most snow was along the Interstate 85 corridor from Alabama through Atlanta and into South Carolina.
Temperatures in the Atlanta area should be slightly above freezing and won't fluctuate much through the day, Nadler said.
"We're not expecting temperatures to drop below freezing until sometime Friday evening," Nadler said.
Still, Georgia road crews spread a mixture known as brine on bridges and overpasses to "pre-treat" the roadways in case snow or ice does coat them. Brine is a mixture of water and salt, which helps to prevent slick surfaces.
Brine can be used on roads up to 48 hours before the precipitation falls, according to Bill Shelton, the road maintenance director in Cobb County, just northwest of Atlanta.
"The cost to do the whole county, every bridge and overpass, is probably $100 worth of salt," he said. "It is worth it to be proactive and keep our roads safe for the traveling public."
Temperatures on Thursday afternoon had fallen to 47 degrees in Atlanta, where football fans huddled around several small barbeque grills atop downtown parking decks as they tail-gated before a night game between the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and the visiting New Orleans Saints.
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