Nearly a quarter-million Georgians were without electricity early Tuesday after freezing rain overnight brought down trees and power lines from the northern suburbs of metro Atlanta northward.
Temperatures at 4 a.m. hovered at or just above the freezing mark, and much of the area was under winter weather advisories for the risk of black ice that could make for a rough morning commute.
While most metro interstates and major thoroughfares were ice-free at 5 a.m., “there’s going to be a period of time when the temperatures drop and the pavement is still wet, and it’s going to be really, really nasty out there,” warned Mark Arum in the WSB 24-hour Traffic Center.
“I’m thinking 10 a.m. before you really can feel confident to head out on the roadways,” Arum advised.
The rain had tapered off to light drizzle across metro Atlanta by 5 a.m., with the heavier rain confined to the southern half of the state.
Temperatures at 5 a.m. ranged from 30 in Dallas, 31 in Dunwoody and Cartersville and 32 in Alpharetta , Chamblee and Marietta to 34 at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
In the mountains, Blue Ridge reported 26 degrees, and it was 28 in Blairsville.
Georgia Power reported about 93,000 customers statewide without electricity at 5 a.m., but it was the smaller electrical membership cooperatives that were particularly hard hit.
Terri Statham, spokeswoman for Georgia Electric Membership Corp., said 134,000 EMC customers in northeast Georgia were without power at 5 a.m.
“The northeast Georgia area has seen severe damage to the electric infrastructure, with significant ice accumulations in areas such as Forsyth, Dawson, Lumpkin, Cherokee, Pickens, Towns, Hall, Gwinnett, Jackson and Banks counties,” Statham said.
A winter storm warning remained in effect for the northeast corner of the state, generally north and east of a line from Ellijay to Canton to Athens, until noon Tuesday, while counties south of there and in northwest Georgia were under a winter weather advisory until noon.
Classes were canceled Tuesday in many north Georgia school systems, including Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton and Gwinnett counties in metro Atlanta. Many government offices in metro Atlanta delayed opening Tuesday until late morning. Full list of closings.
Channel 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said the chance of rain is 40 percent Tuesday morning, with skies clearing during the afternoon, when highs will be in the low 40s.
A 10 percent chance of rain is forecast for Wednesday, along with highs in the low 40s and lows around 27.
Wednesday will be partly cloudy and very cold, with morning lows in the mid-teens followed by afternoon highs only around 30 degrees.
A 30 percent chance of precipitation is forecast for Friday, when lows will be in the upper teens and highs in the mid-30s.