The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for Monday evening through Tuesday evening for northern parts of Georgia and the same watch from Tuesday evening through Thursday for the metro Atlanta area. Meteorologists there are predicting a “major storm” that could bring significant levels of snow and ice.

In the wake of last month’s gridlock caused by two inches of snow and ice in an unprepared Atlanta, Gov. Nathan Deal this morning declared a state of emergency for 14 North Georgia counties: Murray, Fannin, Gilmer, Union, Towns, Pickens, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Cherokee, Forsyth, Hall, Banks and Jackson. Deal will expand the order to additional counties as conditions warrant.

“I have directed the State Patrol, Department of Transportation and Department of Natural Resources to begin moving assets toward areas where the snow and ice are expected, and I have issued a ‘warning order’ for the National Guard — an advance notice to personnel of the possibility of a ‘call up’ for a state mission,” said Deal. “We have passed along this latest weather information to school superintendents and local emergency management agencies.”

Deal will activate the State Operations Center at 3 p.m. Monday which will consist of the directors of GEMA, DOT, State Patrol, and Natural Resources, as well the commissioners for the Department of Public Health and the Department of Community Health and representatives from Georgia Power and the EMCs.

“I encourage all Georgians in affected areas to make the necessary preparations tonight and tomorrow – including plans to be off the road by early evening so that DOT crews can begin pretreating the roads,” Deal said. “From early afternoon on, please stay off the roads if at all possible so that we limit traffic and make way for workers to treat the highways. We also ask tractor trailers to seek alternative routes outside the Perimeter. I further ask that everyone closely monitor the storm coverage for any changes in the predictions.”

The Georgia Motor Trucking Association is urging the industry “to do everything it can to watch and prepare so we don’t have a second Atlanta gridlock.”

The trucking industry became the face of the gridlock with news coverage largely focusing on the number of tractor trailers stuck on the Atlanta highways during and after the storm.

Georgia law permits the closure of roads and highways due to inclement weather that results in dangerous driving conditions but allows certain exceptions for vehicles equipped with tire chains. The full tire chain law may be viewed here.