Can the South handle a winter storm?

The last major snow and ice event for parts of the South was back in January of 2018.

As crews begin treating roadways across the Southeast for winter weather, some drivers may encounter machinery that is only used every few years when Old Man Winter comes knocking.

With the threat of a winter storm impacting the South over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, states such as Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina have crews standing by for the ice and snow.

Data provided by transportation officials shows the Peach State has less equipment at the ready than its neighboring counterparts in the Carolinas.

For the nearly 50,000 miles covered by the Georgia Department of Transportation, the agency says it has around 50,000 tons of salt and an army of about 460 trucks to help with snow plowing and roadway treatments.

In addition to the state agency, local municipalities have their own gear and personnel.

The city of Atlanta says they have 27 pieces of snow removal equipment and are always ready to ask for help from contractors during significant events.

The last time the city was put to the test was back in 2018 when a January snowstorm dumped upwards of around two inches of snow.


Traffic through the metro area of more than 6 million people came to a crawl, but it paled compared to the 2014 event nicknamed "Snowmageddon," when upwards of three inches of snow fell in the area.

Traffic was paralyzed for around a day, which triggered an outcry and a review by state agencies on weather readiness.

Another metro area in the South, where snowstorms aren’t an annual occurrence, is in Charlotte.

The Queen City only sees around three inches of snow a year, but during significant winter storms, the yearly average can easily fall during a single event.

The City of Charlotte Crews says it has around 35 trucks ready to respond to this weekend’s event.

Roadways not covered by the city fall under the responsibility of the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The agency says it has nearly 3,000 pieces of equipment statewide that can be used to either plow snow or spread treatment to help keep the ice at bay.

And while the neighboring state of South Carolina is smaller in terms of both population and size, its preparations are mighty.

The state’s transportation department reports it has around 2,500 employees preparing for the event.

SCDOT says these preparations include having 60,000 tons of salt and around 800,000 gallons of icebreaking chemicals ready to go.

"We are closely monitoring the forecast for this weekend but rest assured that SCDOT is preparing for a worst-case scenario and will begin pre-treating highways as early as Thursday," said South Carolina Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall.

Before you head out on the roadways in Southeast this weekend, make sure to download the free FOX Weather app to find out where the snow will fall.