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Kirk Mellish Blog

    Fortunately with all the rain runoff temperatures tonight are expected to remain above freezing for most of us so no black ice concerns for the Monday morning rush hours except far North. Creeks and streams will continue high due to continued runoff, many are already at flood stage or over.  GFS AMERICAN MODEL AND ECMWF EUROPEAN MODEL ENSEMBLE TEMPERATURE GUIDANCE: Follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • The above map shows the current Winter Weather Bulletins in effect for Georgia. As I’ve been warning in my blog here all week the rain/snow line is likely to shift even up to the last minute. As I pointed out the models often do not handle the strength of “the wedge” (CAD) well usually being too warm. They have also “tweaked” the models so we don’t know if they will perform better or worse than they used to so that makes it more difficult to make confident human adjustments to their output. As is typically the case, some models show a lot of snow and ice and others show little or none, and they show different locations as well.  We can not rule out that the wintry mix will end up further West and South over most of the Metro area than what is currently being shown so be prepared just in case and stay tuned for updates.  Flood Watch and Wind Advisory for all of Metro Atlanta. Isolated power outages possible tonight and Sunday. Flooding possible for the usual creeks and streams.  It is likely the lines depicted will have to be adjusted in future updates and they could be move South or North.  I’ll have more updates later.  Follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB. Atlanta National Weather Service technical discussion: SURFACE WEATHER CHART SATURDAY AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING: FORECAST SURFACE CYCLONE TRACK (dots indicate model spread of low center):
  • In the map above dark green is a Flood Watch, blue is a Winter Storm Watch, and pink is a Winter Storm Warning.  SATURDAY SURFACE WEATHER CHART: SUNDAY MORNING SURFACE WEATHER CHART: PREDOMINANT PRECIPITATION TYPE: Low amounts of ice are possible near and north of the yellow line, with the highest amounts of freezing rain sleet and snow near and north of the blue line. Between the green and yellow lines it should be more rain than anything else but a brief mix or change to sleet or freezing rain is possible with no impact. Near and south of the green line just rain.  As always remember the lines could shift North OR South at the last minute so check back for updates.  If you have not already please read the previous blog posts for *important details* I wont repeat here in this blog post.  3 inches of rain, soggy soils and wind gusts over 30 mph late Saturday night into Sunday can cause problems as previously covered.  The usual suspect creeks and streams are likely to flood. A wintry mix could briefly make it as far South as I-20 but it’s not likely. The main area to watch as of now anyway still looks to be North of Athens and East of Jasper Sunday. ESTIMATED AVERAGE RAINFALL ENDING MONDAY MORNING: For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • No major change to what I’ve been outlining since Monday for the weekend as of now. There will likely be revision of the details in the next couple days as the storm comes into better focus. Heavy snow for the Northeast corner of Georgia, more rain than anything else for MOST of Atlanta, but still the risk of some ice accumulation North and East of the perimeter, but especially Hall County and adjacent areas.  As I’ve noted previously, the computer models often do not handle temperature predictions well in a “wedge” (CAD) event like this associated with a “Miller A” winter storm system, they are often too warm. And as I said since NOAA has made changes to the models to try to improve them, it will take a few years for us to learn their new quirks, strengths and weaknesses.  Over the years I’ve tried to educate on how the equations only need to be off the mark by a degree or less for the forecast to go from good to bad. The normal and to be expected margin of error is GREATER than that.  STORM IN QUESTION UNDERWAY TODAY FROM TEXAS EAST: Remember that some typical flooding of the usual suspect creeks and streams will be possible and with soggy soils and winds gusting over 30 mph at times some trees might fall causing a few scattered power outages. Rain totals of 2-3 inches expected on average.  As always the lines of demarcation for precipitation TYPE are not “magic walls in the sky”. They are more a transition ZONE from one type of precipitation to another that is at least 15 miles wide but sometimes only miles and other times 30 miles depending on storm structure, track and 3D thermodynamics.  And naturally they can move North OR South even at the last minute.  Since we KNOW the weekend weather will be wet and cold even if there is no ice or snow anywhere, why not do what ya gotta do by end of day Friday and bunker down safe and sound on the weekend. That’s my plan, That’s always my plan. Better safe than sorry. Plan for the worse hope for the best.  Accumulation of ice of a tenth to a quarter of an inch is possible mainly Northern Hall County and adjacent areas. However, as I said the amounts and locations will likely change in future forecast updates. I’ll have them on the radio Friday through Sunday and next week as needed.  SURFACE WEATHER CHART SATURDAY: SURFACE WEATHER CHART LATE SATURDAY NIGHT INTO SUNDAY: ESTIMATED AVERAGE RAINFALL ENDING MONDAY MORNING: MODEL NOTES: Models differ greatly on where the best evaporative cooling will take place, some say only the NE corner of the state, others say all the way to downtown Atlanta or even South of the airport and to Athens. No way to know which will be right but it makes deciding where to draw the rain vs. ice line very difficult and subject to unexpected changes one direction or another once the rain starts falling in earnest. The synoptic set up is classic with the low tracking east near the Gulf Coast and with high pressure centered over PA to feed colder drier air down the east slopes of the mountains to meet the warm moist air coming in from the South and West where it overrides and lifts up on top of the cooler drier air (”over-running or isentropic lift).If the majority of models are right the warm air will mostly win out and its just a cold rain for the majority of the area, but if the numerical weather prediction equations UNDER estimate the strength of the wedge then the system will over-perform and more of the area will get some ice. As I’ve pointed out for years now the margin of error is very tiny, and the NORMAL error in modeling much larger which is why, unless you are located “in the heart of a system” instead of near the edges its a fine line between being on target or the forecast dart being off into the wall. In the middle of a system forecasts are on more solid ground because the air mass is more uniform. But on the edges like we are so often in Georgia thanks to terrain, geography and storm tracks its more iffy. For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • The surface weather map ABOVE shows the complex weather system out West that is heading our way this weekend. So far I’ve not had to change my outlook from the blog I posted back on Monday morning much at all. While anybody anywhere in the metro area could see some sleet (ice pellets) or snow flakes briefly, most of us just get a cold rain and lots of it.  AS OF NOW, the only area where some accumulation is possible is near and north of a line from Carters Lake to Canton to Athens. Heavy sleet and snow is still possible in the Northeast corner of the Georgia mountains.  Obviously this could change so keep checking back for updates on the radio, here in this blog and in my forecast page online.  Download the WSB Radio APP. NOTES: NE corner of GA snow breaks out Sat night Far North and East suburbs rain mixes with or changes to sleet (ice pellets) by  Sunday There could be a brief period of INSIGNIFICANT sleet or flurries before sunrise Saturday anywhere, then again Saturday night-Sunday morning, and again at times on Monday.  Soggy soils and strong gusty winds mean a few scattered power outages from trees falling  Routine type flooding of the usual creeks and streams will be likely by late Saturday or Sunday, as well as ponding on roads. The highest risk of some accumulation of sleet near and North of a line from Ellijay to Athens, give or take 20 miles or so. But as always those lines could shift North OR South in future updates.  Heavy snow is probable in the Northeast corner of Georgia.  The models usually do a poor job with temperatures in “the wedge” (CAD) pattern like this usually being too warm.  The models have been “tinkered with” so forecasters don’t have experience using the new versions, it will take a few years to learn how the new computer model versions perform and how to adjust them.  SATURDAY MORNING WEATHER CHART: SUNDAY MORNING SURFACE CHART: MONDAY SURFACE WEATHER CHART: FLOOD RISK AREAS: WEEKEND ESTIMATED RAINFALL AVERAGE AMOUNTS: Sunday-Monday is the MAIN period for any frozen precip accumulation but timing is subject to change of course. Again accumulation is most likely in the mountains with some possible for Hall County and adjacent areas. Details may change.  Too early to predict snow sleet or freezing rain amounts but here are the risk levels as of now: More specifics coming in future updates.  Here is the National Weather Service Office discussion: For more Follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • The above map is all that can be outlined this far in advance of next weekends weather system. Snow sleet and ice are most likely in the Northeast Georgia mountains. But at this distance those lines will certainly shift South OR  North. It’s way too soon to say how much because we don’t know yet what TYPE precipitation will fall. The TIMING is also iffy at this point as it could be anytime next weekend, as of now it looks like both Saturday and Sunday will have precipitation and there could be heavy rain.  I am highly confident there WILL be a storm system, but the temperatures are uncertain not just at the surface but also aloft. Long-time followers or weather enthusiasts/hobbyists who pay attention to these things already have the background from past blogs to understand how a “Miller A” and “Miller B” system impacts our region along with “CAD Events” (Cold-Air Damming) aka “The Wedge”. They also know no two are ever exactly alike.  They also know that if the models are off by just a tenth to a quarter of a degree that can be the difference between a good forecast and a forecast “bust”. They also know that is a tiny tiny margin of error and NO MAN or MODEL is capable of nailing that, the normal and expected margin of error is LARGER than that given the current state of the art of the science.  The system in question is still over the Pacific Ocean West of California: NOTE: the last box is true in states like Kansas where the graphic was made where snow is common and they don’t have the complications we have with the mountains, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean effects, not true here because of those complications.   A “split-flow” jet stream pattern is typical in an El Nino winter and will often keep the Southern tier of the country in an active weather pattern including winter precipitation risks.  500mb (about 18,000 feet) Jet Stream Forecast ECMWF Ensemble Next Saturday Evening : The system is expected to move into Southern California and move across Northern Mexico and South Texas then track East near the Gulf Coast before turning Northeast up the Atlantic Coast then out to sea Saturday through Monday:   Stay tuned. For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB. This is Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Georgia! Learn to prepare here. 
  • Despite the  'Black Swan Event' snow last December in the NW suburbs, and even a White Christmas in 2010 when the  Atlanta Metro area saw between 1-3 inches - the first measurable snow on Christmas Day since 1881, snow is very rare in Georgia in December.  The more common months for it to occur are January-March. I’ve lived here for over 3 decades and over that time there have been more winters with no snow or just a tease than winters with significant snow.  The map above is the American GFS Ensemble snow forecast to December 7th. The map below is the European Ensemble model snowfall anomaly forecast to December 13th showing in green where snow amounts are projected above-normal (it looks right to me): You already knew if you read previous blogs and tweets that the pattern was trying to be favorable even in the South through the first part of December. But it still looks to me like the most favorable area will stay North of Georgia for at least the next 7 days or so.  GFS ENSEMBLE MODEL SNOW TO DECEMBER 7TH: ECMWF ENSEMBLE SNOW TO DECEMBER 12TH: GFS ENSEMBLE SNOW ENDING DECEMBER 16TH: ECMWF 6-WEEK ENSEMBLE SNOWFALL OUTPUT: I am NOT forecasting the snow shown in these models as I currently have good reason to doubt them, doesn’t meant it can’t happen but long time followers know I do not like to be a fear-monger or a rumor starter when it comes to snow and ice just to get attention. Models are a tool but just one tool and I practice METEOROLOGY not MODELOLOGY.  So I DO NOT see snow for Atlanta and probably not for all of Georgia through at least December 7th. Beyond that is more uncertain but I do not buy the model output as of now.  This *potential* has been on my radar (pun intended) for a long while now, here is the email I sent to my bosses November 16th as a behind the scenes heads up for planning just in case: However, with a split-flow jet stream pattern expected to develop there is some potential for ice or snow but there is NO storm to track at this time.   IF it gets to the point I think there’s a realistic chance I will blog about it.  Below is the 15 day temperature guidance from both the GFS and ECMWF ensembles: Some discrepancy in the ECMWF climate model and ensemble for DECEMBER: Based on research and analogs on things like Stratospheric polar vortex disruption (weakening then restrengthening), Mountain-torque changes to global angular momentum, and a wave-train in the Pacific jet stream extension it looks like a milder period will return for mid December after a cold start, then it may end turning colder again into January. “I am dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I almost never know” For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • Not exactly great weather for outdoor Christmas activities or college football tailgating this Saturday. The above is the SIMULATED Radar mid-day tomorrow from the 3km NAM-WRF model. Rain is likely at times Saturday with some scattered thunderstorms in the mix as well.  The risk of a severe storm with damaging winds is still there but remains low, highest odds to our West and South. That could change so stay tuned for updates.  As of now the most widespread rain Saturday looks to be between 7am and 4pm give or take a couple hours.  Rain and thunder odds diminish overnight Saturday and much of the day Sunday looks dry with a better chance of rain Sunday night into early Monday morning. SATURDAY SEVERE WEATHER RISK LEVELS: ESTIMATED RAINFALL AMOUNTS SATURDAY MORNING/EARLY AFTERNOON: ESTIMATED RAIN AMOUNTS SATURDAY LATE AFTERNOON: ESTIMATED RAINFALL SATURDAY NIGHT: ESTIMATED RAINFALL SUNDAY NIGHT: ESTIMATED AVERAGE RAIN TOTALS FRIDAY-SUNDAY: High temperatures in the lower 60s Saturday and low 70s Sunday but turning much colder again by Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, back well below-normal.  For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • As I pointed out at the start of the week the thermometer roller-coaster ride is going to continue the next 2-3 weeks. Above you can see the 16-day above and below normal temperature pattern projected by the American GFS model.  We warm into the 50s for highs this afternoon and to the lower 60s by Saturday to start December and a high Sunday of  70 or above! However it turns cold again by next Wednesday with highs in the 40s and lows in the 20s. In the active El Nino jet stream pattern it will be hard to come by dry weather for more than 2 or 3 days in a row as temperatures swing from below normal to above normal to back below normal over and over into at least the first half of December.  A few scattered showers around the area on Friday with amounts averaging around a tenth of an inch, but the better rain coverage will come on Saturday. As I’ve been saying all week the rain odds are high Saturday, but there should be at least some hours that are not raining. Rain amounts Saturday averaging .25-.50 of an inch.  There is still a risk of a damaging thunderstorm winds Saturday but as of now it looks like that would be only isolated and not widespread.  The higher risk of severe weather looks to be West and South of Atlanta. Stay tuned for updates in case that changes.  The weekend weather results from a huge storm system in the center of the nation heading eastbound: ESTIMATED RAINFALL FRIDAY: ESTIMATED RAINFALL AMOUNTS FIRST HALF OF SATURDAY: ESTIMATED RAINFALL AMOUNTS SECOND HALF OF SATURDAY: ESTIMATED 66-HOUR RAIN TOTALS ENDING SATURDAY NIGHT: SEVERE WEATHER RISK AREAS SATURDAY: For more Follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.
  • Temperatures this morning were near freezing or just below (map above). A top 10 coldest morning for this time of year and 15 degrees or so below-normal for this time of year. You can see the extensive cold snap in the image below: To put the cold in perspective the highs today would be 10 degrees BELOW NORMAL if this was JANUARY! Even colder tomorrow morning all the way down through Florida there will be a winter level chill: HARD FREEZE Wednesday morning: WEDNESDAY HIGH TEMPERATURE FORECAST: The warming trend starts Thursday and will continue into early next week, the 60s return on the weekend but at the price of rain and possible thunderstorms. Right now it looks like a wedge-like pattern will keep most of the severe thunderstorms away from Atlanta this weekend but too soon to be sure.  Given the active El Nino jet stream we will be hard pressed to get more than 3 dry days in a row for the foreseeable future. The thermometer roller coaster ride will continue as well. Strap in, throw your hands up in the air and scream. For more follow me on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB.

News

  • A polygamous group based on the Utah-Arizona border is letting go of the sprawling building where its members worshipped, in the latest sign that the sect run by imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs is crumbling and losing control of the community it ruled for a century. The group known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, now has nowhere to gather for worship services after the nearly 53,000 square-foot (4,900 square-meter) building was taken over last week as part of government-ordered evictions that have taken away about 200 homes and buildings from members who refuse to pay property taxes and $100-a-month occupancy fees. The meetinghouse with capacity for several thousand people is valued at $2.8 million and sits on about 7 acres (2.8 hectares) in the remote red rock community, on the Arizona side of the border. The building has a stage, a church-like setup for services and classrooms for religious education but has not been used for at least six months, Jeff Barlow said Monday. He is the executive director of a government-appointed organization that oversees a former church trust that has properties in the sister cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. The FLDS doesn't have a spokesperson to comment about the development. The sect is experiencing a major leadership void with Warren Jeffs serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides and his brother Lyle Jeffs serving nearly a five-year sentence for his role in carrying out an elaborate food stamp fraud scheme and for escaping home confinement while awaiting trial. Members have said they have been worshipping at home on their own. The lack of local leaders meant nobody stepped up to take responsibility for the building when Barlow's organization warned an eviction was imminent, said Christine Katas, who lives in the community and serves as an intermediary between Barlow's organization and the FLDS. Rank-and-file members don't believe they have the authority to do so, she said. 'It's very sad for the FLDS. I've seen people cry over it,' Katas said. 'Both sides are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Everybody wishes there was a different outcome.' The evictions have led many FLDS members to take refuge in trailers around town or move away, while former members have purchased the homes and buildings and moved back. Group members don't believe they should have to pay for what belonged to a communal church trust that the state of Utah took over more than a decade ago amid mismanagement. The evictions are part of the shifting demographics in the sister cities of about 7,700 people. Non-sect members last year won control of the mayor's office and town council in Hildale, Utah and nearly did the same in municipal elections in Colorado City. The town government and police are being watched closely by court-appointed monitors after a jury found past town and police leaders guilty of civil rights violations. Sprawling homes that used to belong to Warren Jeffs have been converted into beds and breakfast and sober living centers. Members of the group still consider their leader and prophet to be Warren Jeffs, even though he has been in jail in Utah or Texas continually since 2006. Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the mainstream church abandoned the practice in 1890 and now strictly prohibits it. The Salt Lake Tribune first reported the eviction of the meetinghouse. Barlow said the board of the organization he runs, called the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust, will meet on Jan. 5 in a public meeting to discuss what to do with the building, constructed in 1986, Barlow said. One possibility is converting it to a civic center, though that would likely require seeking grant funds, he said. The UEP board will make the final decision.
  • The 2018 college football bowl season kicks off with the fourth annual Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl. The game will feature champions from the Mid-Eastern Athletic and Southwestern Athletic conferences. In a rematch of the first Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl, the North Carolina A&T Aggies will go head-to-head with the Alcorn State Braves.  Starting at 11 a.m., Channel 2 WSB-TV presents a live half-hour program, “The Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl Countdown.”  Channel 2 anchors Fred Blankenship and Carol Sbarge host the pregame show for this event. Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein will break down the strategies of both teams, the players, coaches and each team’s strengths and weaknesses.  Following the countdown will be a special edition of Channel 2 Action News at 11:30 a.m. with weather, game day traffic and news of the day. At noon, the battle for the championship begins. In addition to the game, organizers will host the first annual “A Celebration of Service.” The service project will bring together “The Divine 9” Greek letter organizations to collect food donations that benefit Hosea Helps. Other attractions include a special fan experience and the ultimate HBCU Greek homecoming tailgate. MATCHUP Alcorn State (9-3, 6-1 Southwestern Athletic Conference) vs. North Carolina A&T (9-2, 6-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference). TIME/LOCATION Saturday at noon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Pregame coverage starts at 11 a.m., followed by the game at noon. TOP PLAYERS Alcorn State QB Noah Johnson has thrown for 2,079 yards and 15 touchdowns while also running for 960 yards and nine touchdowns. North Carolina A&T is led by veteran QB Lamar Raynard and a running game that's averaging close to 200 yards on the ground per game. NOTABLE The Braves are back in the Celebration Bowl for the first time since the inaugural game in 2015. Alcorn State is led by coach Fred McNair, the older brother of the late Steve McNair, who was a star quarterback for Alcorn State and in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans. The Aggies are back in the Celebration Bowl for the third time in four seasons. North Carolina A&T beat Grambling 21-14 last year to give the MEAC a 2-1 edge in the game over the SWAC. LAST TIME North Carolina A&T 41, Alcorn State 34 on Dec. 19, 2015. BOWL HISTORY The Braves are in the Celebration Bowl for the second time. The Aggies are in the Celebration Bowl for the third time.
  • Companies seeking tax credits from Wisconsin's troubled job-creation agency would face less scrutiny under a provision Republicans included in a package of lame-duck legislation designed to weaken newly elected Democrats. The measure awaiting GOP Gov. Scott Walker's signature would loosen the reins on an agency he created, which has marred by allegations of failing to recover loans from some companies and handing out $126 million without a formal review. Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who ousted Walker in last month's election, would be blocked from overseeing the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for nine months under another provision in the lame-duck package. It's one of several components in the legislation that would reduce the powers of Evers and the incoming Democratic attorney general. Current law requires the WEDC to annually verify payroll and employment data from tax credit recipients to make sure they're creating enough jobs to qualify. State auditors found last year that the agency isn't living up to that requirement and was accepting information recipients submitted as accurate and complete. The lame-duck legislation would erase those annual verification requirements. The agency instead would be required to have a third party verify a sampling of the information. Recipients also would have to send a signed statement to WEDC attesting to the accuracy of the information they submit. WEDC's chief executive officer, Mark Hogan, told reporters Monday that the agency can't possibly verify information about the tens of thousands of employees that work for the 300 or so credit recipients. The agency has been verifying data samples for years and the lame-duck bill simply codifies that practice into law, he said. 'You're never going to be able to independently verify over 200,000 employees,' Hogan said. 'It's a process that cannot work. The only solution was to change the statutes to codify what we're doing.' Hogan said changing the law has been his 'top priority' for three years. He tried to get lawmakers to pass the changes before the Legislature adjourned its two-year session this past spring, but legislators told him then it was too late. WEDC is a quasi-governmental agency Walker created in 2011 that hands out grants, loans and tax credits to businesses and other organizations. A May 2017 audit found the agency didn't require recipients to supply enough detailed information to determine how many jobs were created or retained as a result of the agency's award. WEDC officials played a key role in persuading Foxconn Technology Group to build a huge flat-screen plant in Mount Pleasant. The agency administers an unprecedented $3 billion state incentives package that Walker and Republican lawmakers created for the manufacturer. Walker has promised that if Foxconn doesn't create jobs it won't receive state tax credits. 'Under Republican control, the WEDC has been plagued by scandals, mismanagement and under-performance,' Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling said in a statement. 'The last thing that agency needs is less accountability measures.' The WEDC provisions are tucked into a wide-ranging package of legislation that also restricts early in-person voting to the two weeks before an election, prevents Evers from withdrawing from a multistate lawsuit challenging federal health care reform laws and eliminates the state Justice Department's solicitor general office. Walker has signaled his general support. His spokesman, Tom Evenson, said Monday that the governor was still reviewing the measures. ___ Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1 ___ This story has been corrected to reflect that Shilling is the minority leader, not the majority leader.
  • Channel 2 Action News has learned that investigators say there are currently more than 70,000 gang members across the state of Georgia. Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne was on hand Monday for the second meeting of the Georgia Anti-Gang Network. Officials told Winne that not only are they battling against inmates who are in gangs, but also corrections officers.  “Across the state, how many investigations do you have going on involving the corruption of corrections officers by gangs?” Winne asked Georgia Department of Correction Director Clay Nix.  “Numerous,” Nix answered.  Nix said Georgia’s prison system is not only battling against inmates who are in gangs, but also corrections officers, who are recruited after hiring. TRENDING STORIES: State government will delay opening Tuesday due to weather LIVE UPDATES: Atlanta United's championship parade and rally Search for missing Colorado mother intensifies; FBI assisting with investigation “Also, they reach out to other gang members who have no criminal record and encourage them to come to work for us,” Nix said.   “That’s happened?” Winne asked Nix.  “It has. Several times in the past,” Nix said.  Nix showed Winne pictures of a haul of suspected gang-related contraband that consisted of 61 homemade weapons, cellphones, suspected cocaine, suspected meth and marijuana.  “They control the contraband trade, which is very lucrative,” Nix said. The items were seized at the Macon state prison just hours before a meeting of the Georgia Anti-gang Network at state corrections headquarters, headed by Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. “Criminal street gangs represent America’s greatest public safety threat,” Cobb County District Attorney Mike Carlson said.  “And in Georgia?” Winne asked Carlson.  “Georgia as well,” Carlson said.  “And in metro Atlanta?” Winne asked.  “Absolutely,” Carlson said.  “The most frightening thing you've heard today?” Winne asked Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.  “The use of social media, the recruitment of young local neighborhood gangs as young as 9 and 13 years old,” Carr said.  The commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Community Supervision said there are currently more than 13,000 gang members under active supervision across the state.  “We'll never be able to have parity in numbers with the 70,000-plus gang members in Georgia. But what we are able to do is finely tune the force packages we use to go after each one of these sets,” said Southern District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine.  Christine said a grand jury recently indicted dozens affiliated with the Ghostface Gangsters.  “It involves multiple jurisdictions and multiple counties,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Gilluly said.  “You've got a great group of folks that are focused on this issue, that aren't putting their heads in the sand and saying, 'We're going to protect the people of Georgia,'” Carr said.  Nix told Winne that without going into too many specifics, gang-related corruption cases pending against current or former corrections officers across the state range from charges up to and including homicide.
  • A five-game losing streak has assured the Atlanta Falcons of their first losing season since 2014, and the usually upbeat coach Dan Quinn said he's alarmed by the ugly results and looking for fixes. Quinn said all players and coaches are in the spotlight after Sunday's 34-20 loss at Green Bay locked in the losing season for the Falcons (4-9). It is a bitter reality for an Atlanta team only two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. The Falcons would have to win two of their last three just to match their last losing record, a 6-10 finish in 2014. Quinn has turned up the heat on his team as Atlanta prepares for a visit from Arizona on Sunday. 'Some of you may have questions regarding the program and staff and players,' Quinn said. 'As we're sitting here in week 15, we have four wins. So you better believe we're evaluating everything and doing anything to get it right.' Quinn complained about 'self-inflicted wounds,' including 13 penalties and two turnovers in the loss to the Packers. 'I thought our toughness was right but our focus is not,' he said. He said the errors and lack of focus are not new concerns. 'It hasn't been to the level that we needed to for a while,' he said. '... To have some of these inconsistencies show up over a period of time has definitely been something that has been at the forefront of my mind.' Quinn doesn't have an answer to why the focus has become an issue, saying, he 'can't tell you the amount of sleep' he has lost 'on that question alone.' Matt Ryan's second-quarter pass for Austin Hooper was intercepted by Bashaud Breeland and returned 22 yards for a touchdown. The Falcons also botched a shotgun snap in the red zone that was recovered by Green Bay. Quinn said those were among the mistakes 'that made me think lack of focus.' It was a mixed weekend for team owner Arthur Blank, who also owns the MLS Atlanta United. One day after watching Atlanta United win the MLS Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Blank was in Green Bay for another Falcons loss. Blank gave Quinn a postgame hug one week after saying he still has confidence in the coach and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Quinn is 36-30 in his fourth season in Atlanta, including a 3-2 postseason mark. For the second straight week, Quinn tweaked his starting offensive line, inserting Ty Sambrailo at right tackle ahead of Ryan Schraeder. Zane Beadles made his second straight start at right guard. 'I've been waiting for the opportunity to go out and show what I can do,' Sambrailo said Monday. 'The opportunity came and I felt I did all right.' The line helped produce a much-needed boost in the running game . Atlanta ran for 107 yards, only its third 100-yard game of the season. Rookie Ito Smith had 11 carries for 60 yards as he continued to have a more prominent role. Tevin Coleman ran for 45 yards on 10 carries. There were other personnel moves. Rookie Isaiah Oliver shared time with cornerback Robert Alford. Brian Hill played at running back and fullback while fullback Ricky Ortiz was inactive. Defensive end Steven Means also returned to the playing rotation. More changes could come. 'Nobody is OK with this record,' Quinn said. NOTES: Quinn second-guessed himself for allowing Matt Bryant to attempt a 53-yard field goal into the wind in the first quarter. Bryant's kick was short. 'That would be one I'd like to have over,' Quinn said. ... Quinn said TE Austin Hooper avoided serious injury when he left the game with an apparent knee injury. ___ More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • The Latest on the effects of a wintry storm crossing the U.S. Southeast (all times local): 3:05 p.m. An overturned truck full of pigs is adding to traffic delays as western North Carolina digs out from a snow storm. The North Carolina Department of Transportation said the livestock truck overturned on Interstate 40 westbound near the Tennessee line. The westbound lanes were closed temporarily Monday so the pigs could be corralled, but at least one lane was reopened by midafternoon. Highway Patrol First Sgt. Mike Baker said that about 100 pigs were aboard the truck, and some died in the crash. Local farmers were helping to gather the rest. The Transportation Department posted a photo on Twitter of pigs wandering along a snowy shoulder next to a trooper's cruiser. Baker said it's not clear if weather played a role in the crash, and it may have had more to do with speed. He said the road was clear of snow and ice at the time. He said the driver suffered serious injuries. ___ 3:05 p.m. The North Carolina National Guard is out helping residents recover from a snowstorm, including relocating a baby from a snowed-in house. National Guard Lt. Col. Matthew DeVivo said the National Guard helped out a family Sunday after it lost power and couldn't drive due to heavy snowfall in Caldwell County. The National Guard posted a photo of a soldier carrying the baby down a snowy road swaddled in extra blankets. DeVivo said the baby is OK, and the family was taken to stay with relatives. Guard members also aided an ambulance stuck in the snow in Burke County, helping an elderly patient get to the hospital. The patient's condition Monday wasn't clear. ___ 1:30 p.m. Residents of southern West Virginia are digging out from a storm that dumped up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) of snow. Forecasters had been uncertain about the storm's track and many residents were caught off guard by the high snow amounts. Forecasts initially had the storm avoiding most of the state and moving across the Southeast. Instead, the National Weather Service says the state became part of the storm's northern edge. More than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow fell across the far southern areas of the state. Schools were closed in at least 10 counties Monday. In places about an hour to the north such as Charleston and Huntington, no snow fell. ___ 12:35 p.m. Authorities in North Carolina are reporting a third snowstorm-related death after a truck driver died while working to free his rig that got stuck on an interstate. Yadkin County Emergency Services Director Keith Vestal says the driver had gotten stuck along Interstate 77 during the height of the storm Sunday and was shoveling out. Vestal said that shortly after shoveling, the man experienced chest pains and was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. Vestal said the death appears to be due to a heart attack and he considers it a storm-related death. The state emergency operations center attributes two other deaths to the storm. One man died Sunday when a tree fell on him in Mecklenburg County, while an ailing woman died in Haywood County when her oxygen was cut off due to power outages. ___ 11:45 a.m. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says the worst of the wintery storm has passed most of the state but residents — particularly motorists — should keep watch for dangerous conditions. Cooper said at a news conference Monday that snow and ice that fell since the weekend could result in slick road conditions Tuesday morning as temperatures fall and moisture refreezes. The state emergency operations center attributes two deaths to the storm. One man died Sunday when a tree fell on him in Mecklenburg County, while an ailing woman died in Haywood County when her oxygen was cut off due to power outages. The governor says 144,000 utilities customers were still without power. ____ 7:20 a.m. A lingering storm keeps dumping immobilizing snow, sleet or freezing rain across five southern states, leaving dangerously icy roads and hundreds of thousands of people without electricity. Authorities urged people to stay home on Monday in areas where driving is dangerous. Accidents on snow-covered interstates caused major delays on Sunday, hundreds of flights were canceled and drivers in North Carolina and Virginia got stuck in snow or lost control on icy patches. But the commuters' nightmare provided pre-winter thrills for kids and the young at heart, who were able to go sledding and build snowmen in places that don't often see so much of the white stuff. The National Weather Service said a 'prolonged period of snow' began late Saturday and would last until Monday in the region, with the heaviest snow in northwest North Carolina and southern Virginia. Some areas of North Carolina and Virginia saw more than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow by Sunday afternoon.