UPDATED: Towns County offices close, black ice expected to develop

Towns County weather

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw notified FYN of county-wide government office closures this morning, Thursday, Feb. 20, due to worsening weather conditions. FYN additionally received an alert from GEMA, warning of the potential of black ice forming on area roadways as the temperature continues to drop.

UPDATE: Towns County government offices will operate on a two-hour delay Friday morning. Towns County Schools will be closed Feb. 21, implementing an online learning day.

“Patchy black ice following the snow Thursday night could create especially hazardous driving conditions,” GEMA stated.

Towns County emergency officials advised against traveling, especially after dusk.

A Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect throughout the evening until 1 a.m. on Friday.

According to weather.gov, black ice is “a deadly driving hazard defined as patchy ice on roadways or other transportation surfaces that cannot easily be seen. It is often clear (not white) with the black road surface visible underneath. It is most prevalent during the early morning hours, especially after snowmelt on the roadways has a chance to refreeze overnight when the temperature drops below freezing. Black ice can also form when roadways are slick from rain and temperatures drop below freezing overnight.”

Towns County Schools canceled Thursday classes, opting for an online learning day as a safety precaution.

Towns County Republican Party canceled its Thursday evening meeting, following the government closure. House Representative and candidate for U.S. Congress, Matt Gurtler, was scheduled as keynote speaker. Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young said that she plans to hold the meeting later this month.

Continue to follow FYN for weather updates across our counties of coverage as developments occur.

Towns County Closings and Delays: Friday, Feb. 21

snow closings delays

Towns County, GA

  • Towns County government offices, including the courthouse, will operate on a two-hour delay Friday morning due to winter weather conditions.
  • Towns County Schools will implement an online learning day to ensure student safety.

Follow this link for additional Towns County closings and delays as information becomes available.


Road crews at work as snow blankets county

Towns County weather

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Road Department is hard at work, clearing area roadways to ensure safe passage for emergency responders and motorists who must travel. As the snow began to fall, with current reports of over 6 inches of accumulation in some locations, Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw continues to make the rounds with county road crews.

Numerous, minor accidents have been reported throughout the county.

Towns County snow

Upper Hiawassee River, State Route 75 South.

Hiawassee Police Department advised motorists this morning to “please stay off the streets unless absolutely necessary.”

Blue Ridge Mountain EMC is reporting approximately 600 power outages in its area of coverage.

Winter precipitation is expected to taper off as the afternoon advances, with an overnight temperature of roughly 23 degrees. Partly sunny skies with temperatures in the 50s are in Sunday’s forecast.

Ice may form on area roadways after dusk. Please use extreme caution if travel is unavoidable.

“We would like to ask that travel be avoided if possible especially after dark due to freezing of wet and slushy roads,” Towns County EMA Director Brandon Walls told FYN. “We have also requested extra GDOT plow trucks to assist.”

The threat of possible localized flooding remains, Walls said, as the ground is saturated from recent rainfall and additional precipitation is anticipated to return next week. Walls urged residents to remain alert to changing weather conditions.

Follow FYN for further weather updates as developments occur.

Towns County Road Department

Towns County Road Department at work. 

Towns County spared brunt of stormy weather

Enchanted Valley Resort

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County was narrowly spared the brunt of this week’s storms, with minimal flooding and no significant incidents or damage, other than downed trees, reported as a result of the rainy weather. Residents of Enchanted Valley RV Resort, however, closely monitored the quickly rising Hiawassee River, which runs along the banks of the mobile home park, ready to take action should the water continue to swell. Residents kept a close watch on their properties and the data provided by a river stage monitoring station on nearby Riverside Drive.  The low-lying residential area is prone to flooding during periods of extended rain.

USGS Hiawassee

USGS river stage monitoring station at Riverside Drive.

In May 2018, heavy rainfall from Subtropical Storm Alberto resulted in the extensive flooding of Enchanted Valley RV Resort, located off of Highway 75 South, with Towns County first responders arriving on scene to assist in after-dark evacuations.

While the Hiawassee River did rise considerably in a short amount of time, Mother Nature was overall kind to the residents of a park that recently suffered the loss of three homes due to a structure fire.

“River stage is an important concept when analyzing how much water is moving in a stream at any given moment. Stage is the water level above some arbitrary point, usually with the zero height being near the river bed, in the river and is commonly measured in feet,” the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which gauges the water levels, website explains. “With the advent of modern computer and satellite technology, the USGS can monitor the stage of many streams almost instantly. Since some streams, especially those in the normally arid Western U.S., can rise dramatically in a matter of minutes during a major storm, it is important to be able to remotely monitor how fast water is rising ‘in real-time’ in order to warn people that might be affected by a dangerous flood. Recreational users of streams, such as kayakers, also use “real-time” stream-stage data to tell them if certain streams are at the right height for kayaking. The USGS can now gather data on river stage and even produce graphs showing stage as the rain is falling.”

Towns County flooding

USGS graph of the recent Hiawassee River water levels.

As the storms moved out of Towns County and the temperature decreased, slight precipitation remained in the atmosphere, resulting in a minimal amount of snowfall in portions of the county on the morning of Feb. 7. Another light dusting to a possible inch or more of snowfall is expected Saturday morning, Feb. 8.

Towns County Schools initially planned to operate on a two-hour delay, canceling campus classes entirely on Friday, Feb. 7, due to winter conditions.

Featured Image: The swift-moving Hiawassee River alongside Enchanted Valley RV Park, Hiawassee, GA

High winds damage Young Harris residence

Towns County weather

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – High winds caused substantial damage to a residence in the Morgan Court subdivision of Young Harris this morning as severe weather approaches the Towns County area. Manny Carrion, owner of Carrion Tree Service, submitted a photo of the damage to FYN, warning area residents to remain vigilant of the dangers associated with the storm system.

Carrion Tree Service

Photo courtesy of Carrion Tree Service

“This is going to be a long day and night,” Carrion said, adding that limbs from the fallen tree nearly injured the homeowner by a mere 8 feet, crashing through the homeowner’s roof into a home office.

“Please be careful while traveling today,” Towns County Emergency Management Agency advised. “Towns County is expecting 4-5 inches of rain over the next 12-16 hours as well as high winds. Be on the lookout for fallen trees and power lines.”

According to the National Weather Service, a line of showers and thunderstorms will move across north and
central Georgia today and tonight. Some storms could become strong to severe with the primary hazards being damaging wind gusts in excess of 60 mph and tornadoes. Heavy rain could also bring localized flooding. The best timing for severe weather will be between approximately 3 pm and midnight Saturday.

In addition, windy conditions are expected for today into this evening. With the saturated soils, winds could uproot trees across the area which could then down powerlines. Gusty winds may blow unsecured objects. A wind advisory is in effect from 7 am to 10 pm.

Click for additional Towns County news


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Meet Luke Dockery: Towns County’s youngest weatherman

Featured Stories
Luke Dockery - weather

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Luke Dockery, a Towns County homeschool student, enjoys weather forecasting, and his passion for the useful hobby is noteworthy. The 15-year-old amateur meteorologist maintains a devout presence on social media, informing the public of weather-related events on a dedicated basis. Whether there be rain, freezing temperatures, or winter precipitation in-store, the jovial teen is always in the know.

“I became interested in the weather back in 2013,” Dockery told FYN. “My dad had a weather radio, and bad weather was moving through. I was so amused by how they worked and alerted. After all the bad weather moved through, I looked them up on how they work and it was so interesting. I decided to start getting some, and I got my first one on Christmas 2015. I was so happy. I got more interested in the weather so I started buying more and collecting them. My collection grew as the years passed.”

Dockery owns and operates an impressive collection of NOAA weather radios, 33 in total.

Dockery became an official National Weather Service (NWS) storm spotter on Oct. 18 following the completion of a SKYWARN training course held at the E-911 center in Young Harris.

The SKYWARN class was designed to prepare participants to identify and report severe weather events, alerting the NWS of meteorological ground conditions and resulting damage to the area. Students, which consisted of citizens and first responders, were provided information on how to determine and monitor the structure of approaching storms, and what to report to the NWS in the event of severe weather.

Each Wednesday at 11:30 am, Dockery conducts the required weekly tests on his vast collection of NOAA weather radios. The 10th-grade homeschooler shares his meteorological knowledge on multiple social media pages including his own, Georgia and Western North Carolina Weather Updates.


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Towns County citizens, first responders trained as NWS storm spotters

SKYWARN spotter

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – The National Weather Service (NWS), in cooperation with Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), held a SKYWARN storm spotter class Oct. 18 at the Towns County Emergency Operations Center. Towns County citizens, along with first responders from Hiawassee Police Department, Towns County Fire and Rescue, and Towns County Emergency Medical Services, attended the severe weather seminar. The course was conducted by Peachtree City NWS meteorologist Dave Nadler.

An instructional SKYWARN slide shown during the presentation.

The SKYWARN class was designed to prepare participants to identify and report severe weather events, alerting the NWS of meteorological ground conditions and resulting damage to the area. Attendees were supplied with information on how to determine and monitor the structure of approaching storms, and what to report to the NWS in the event of severe weather. Safety instructions were included in the course.

Towns County became a StormReady community approximately 12 years ago, and re-certification is required by the NWS every four years.

Towns County EMA urged the community to sign-up for the CodeRED Weather Warning system, a computer-operated program that alerts residents of foul weather-related conditions. CodeRED Weather Warning is a unique service that automatically notifies citizens in the path of severe weather, moments after a warning has been issued by the NWS. CodeRED alerts are available at no cost.

Luke Dockery

Luke Dockery, a local weather enthusiast who completed the SKYWARN training.

The service delivers notifications to landlines and cell phones, emails, texts, social media, and/or mobile alerts. Residents and visitors will receive enhanced public safety alerts no matter where they are located via the CodeRED Mobile Alert app – a free public safety app for both Android and iPhone users. The CodeRED Mobile Alert app delivers community and emergency alerts to individuals targeted within an impacted geographical area so that citizens receive timely notifications when traveling away from home.

Click here to sign-up for CodeRED alerts


Feature Image: NWS meteorologist Dave Nadler leading the SKYWARN class.




Towns County EMA encourages community to attend SKYWARN course



Towns County EMA encourages community to attend SKYWARN course

Towns County EMA

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) encourages citizens and first responders with an interest in weather to attend an Oct. 18 SKYWARN training session in Young Harris. The course will cover the importance of storm spotters, the basics of thunderstorms, the relationship between the National Weather Service (NWS) and EMA with the media, basic radar interpretation, identification of potential severe storm features, information on reporting weather observations, and storm spotter safety tips.

SKYWARN storm spotters are an important group of volunteers that report severe weather, winter weather, and resulting damage to the NWS, the organization’s website explains. These reports aid the weather service in accomplishing its mission of “protection of life and property” by providing forecasters essential information of what is occurring at ground level. SKYWARN spotters receive training from the NWS, learning weather safety, storm structure, and reportable criteria.  The course is typically held in conjunction with local government or area SKYWARN groups.

“Towns County has been certified as StormReady for several years,” Towns County EMA Director Brandon Walls said. “The recertification cycle is every four years, the last being in 2016.” In order to be recognized as StormReady, a county must meet criteria jointly established between the NWS and state-local emergency management officials.  Approximately 230,000 citizens have participated in the SKYWARN program nationwide.

The SKYWARN course is scheduled Friday, Oct. 18, at the Towns County Emergency Operations Center at 1100 Jack Dayton Circle in Young Harris, GA, at 6 pm.Towns County EMA

Click for map

For additional information, contact Towns County EMA at ema@townscountyga.com

CodeRed Alert Activated: Winter Storm Warning

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County’s CodeRED alert system was activated shortly before noon on Saturday, Dec. 8, warning of approaching winter weather.
The winter storm warning will take effect at 10 p.m. tonight and run through 1 a.m. Monday, Dec. 10.
The expected forecast for Towns County, according to the National Weather Service, is as follows:
Rain and sleet before midnight, then freezing rain between midnight, followed by snow after 3am. Low around 30. East wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New ice accumulation of 0.2 to 0.4 of an inch possible. New snow and sleet accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
Snow and freezing rain before 10am, then snow between 10am and 2pm, then rain likely after 2pm. High near 36. East wind 15 to 20 mph decreasing to 5 to 10 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New ice accumulation of around a 0.1 of an inch possible. New snow accumulation of 1 to 2 inches possible.
Sunday Night
Rain and snow showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 32. North wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
A chance of rain and snow showers before 10am, then a chance of rain showers. Cloudy, with a high near 39. Northwest wind around 5 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Monday Night
A slight chance of rain and snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 27. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

UPDATED: Towns County Emergency Management monitoring Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Governor Nathan Deal issued a state-of-emergency for Georgia’s 159 counties ahead of the impact from Hurricane Florence, a downgraded Category 2 storm expected to stall over the southeastern states once it makes landfall.

While the anticipated effects from the remnants of Hurricane Florence on Towns County have not been determined as of yet, Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA)  officials are closely monitoring developments as heavy rainfall and potential flooding is possible.

Towns County EMA is expected to provide a local forecast update at approximately noon today.

UPDATED, 9/14: Towns County EMA has advised that 1 – 4 inches of rain is possible over a 36-hour period, with 15 mph winds and 30 mph gusts.

UPDATED, 9/13 : Flash flooding with 30 mph winds could occur, late Sunday into early Monday, according to Towns County EMA Director Rickey Mathis. FYN will provide further updates, as necessary, as the remnants of Florence lash inland.

As of 8 a.m. on Thursday, Florence was approximately 275 miles east-southeast of Wilmington, North Carolina, and 220 miles east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Enchanted Valley RV Resort in Towns County suffered flooding after a late May storm

According to the National Hurricane center, the storm was moving northwest at 12 mph, and had maximum sustained winds of approximately 110 mph.

In the event that area flooding becomes an issue, Towns County EMA will provide information, along with the locations and operating hours of local shelters.

Towns County EMA encourages residents to subscribe to the CodeRed emergency alert system. The automated service notifies citizens of pertinent, area-specific information.

September is National Preparedness Month, and FYN recently reported on the importance of emergency planning.

Follow FYN for weather updates as Hurricane Florence approaches.


Feature Image: Projected path provided by FOX News


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Area responders urge residents to prepare for rounds of rain


HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Meteorologists are forecasting a heavy amount of rainfall to descend on the north Georgia and western North Carolina mountains throughout the coming week, warning that possible flash flooding may occur in prone locations. According to the National Weather Service, a total of 5 to 7 inches of rain is expected in the region with the potential of 10 inches of localized precipitation possible.

Clay County weather

North Carolina forecast by WNC Weather

Area first responders urge residents to remain aware of current conditions as rainfall amounts accumulate.

Towns County Emergency Management Agency encourages citizens to register with the CodeRED call-text alert system, an automated program that notifies residents of impending concern.

“We are aware of the potential of this storm impact over the next several days,” Towns County EMA Director Rickey Mathis explained to FYN this morning. “I have spoken to the Area 1 GEMA field coordinator as well as the chapter chairman of the Red Cross. If needed, we will open a comfort station for those that may need to evacuate. The situation that is most concerning is a heavy rain 1-2 inches in a short period of time. With the ground saturation, it just runs off. Subscribing to the CodeRED alert system is a great way to get local information, and a great way for us to quickly alert the citizens as well as social media and FYN.”

Residents can subscribe for CodeRED alerts at http://www.townscountyga.org/emergency-alert-system.html

Hiwassee Dam Fire Department is ready should conditions warrant an emergency response. “Our swift water response team is prepared. If you live in flood prone areas, stay alert,” the Murphy, NC department advised. “Monitor the streams as well as NOAA radio. Be prepared to evacuate. The forecast is still not set in stone, but we have seen predictions for anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of rain through Friday. The ground is saturated and the streams are already above normal flow.”

Emergency crews in Towns County, GA, Clay County, NC, and surrounding areas are additionally trained in swift water rescue.

Follow FYN for weather-related updates in our area of coverage.


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Freeze Warning issued for Northeast Georgia


HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A freeze warning has been issued by the National Weather Service for Towns County, with overnight temperatures expected to drop into the low 30s.

The advisory includes the counties of Fannin, Gilmer, Union, and Clay County, NC.

The freeze warning will remain in effect from midnight, Sunday, Oct. 21, until Sunday morning, 9 a.m.

Freezing temperatures combined with windy conditions may damage sensitive vegetation and crops.

Pets should be sheltered from the cold.


Rain expected to produce possible flooding through New Years

Towns County weather

HIAWASSEE, Ga. –  The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Watch which will take effect this evening, Thursday, Dec. 27, with a Wind Advisory currently in place throughout FYN’s areas of coverage.

Between Thursday evening through Saturday morning, light rain will move into the state Thursday, becoming moderate to heavy across most of north and central Georgia Thursday night. The heavy rain will persist into Friday before tapering off Friday night. Total rainfall of 1.5 to 3 inches is expected through Saturday morning with isolated higher amounts likely.Hiawassee weather

A second round of precipitation is expected to develop on Saturday, with an additional 1-2 inches of rain possible through New Year’s Eve.

A Wind Advisory is in effect for portions of north Georgia through 7 a.m. Friday morning, with sustained winds 10 to 20 mph, with gusts to 40 mph possible. The strongest gusts are expected across the higher elevations and ridgetops. With already saturated soils, strong winds could down trees and power lines.

Soil conditions remain highly moist and river levels remain elevated across the area. Even a relatively small amount of rainfall will produce significant runoff and flooding of creeks and rivers. Once the rain ends, high water could persist for several days after.



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