An upper level disturbance tracked across the northern Gulf of Mexico, drawing abundant moisture into the Southeastern U.S. Prior to the arrival of the moisture, a large, cool area of high pressure was entrenched over the southern United States. This helped set the stage for one of the more significant winter weather events in years. Warm, moist air transported north by the low pressure system overrode the cool, dry air at the surface Sunday night.
As mid-level rain and snow fell into the cold surface air, it evaporated and caused the surface temperatures to cool even further. By late Sunday evening, the precipitation reached the surface, appearing as a mix of rain, sleet and snow across central Georgia, with accumulations of up to two inches. In north Georgia, where the cold air was deeper, precipitation fell in the form of mostly snow with some sleet. Between 10 p.m. and midnight on Sunday, an area of intense snow developed along and just north of the I-20 corridor, contributing to a narrow band of 6”-8.5”total snowfall amounts in Eastern Georgia. To the north of I-20, the airmass was sufficiently cold and moist to produce widespread snowfall amounts greater than 6”. In the northernmost counties of Georgia, and especially at higher elevations, snowfall amounts of 8” to 10” were common.
The heavier snow and sleet accumulations began tapering off by mid-day Monday (January 10), but temperatures hovered at or below freezing throughout the day. Persistent freezing drizzle and light freezing rain across much of central and northern Georgia on Monday helped extend the winter event into the afternoon. Reports of ice accumulations from 0.1” to 0.5” were received on Monday – mainly across central Georgia. More information on the snow, ice and sleet accumulations can be found in the Public Information Statement