Metro Atlanta and north Georgia remained a frozen mess late Wednesday, buried under inches of ice and snow. The massive winter storm has already caused thousands of power outages, at least two deaths and several injuries.
And it’s not over.
Snow will continue to fall through the early morning hours Thursday, according to Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Brad Nitz. The end of the precipitation is in sight, he said.
“We’re certainly over the hump,” Nitz said late Wednesday.
But it could be days before the region thaws, electricity is restored and life returns to normal.
At 10:30 p.m., more than 174,000 Georgia Power customers were without electricity. But service had already been restored to 180,000 customers, Georgia Power said. An additional 78,000 customers of the state’s electric membership cooperatives were without power around 10 p.m. Wednesday. Power has already been restored to more than 45,000 customers.
Roads all over the metro area were deemed too treacherous for drivers, and most people heeded the warning. But the storm still left its mark.
Two deaths in Georgia are being blamed on the weather, according to officials in Butts and Whitfield counties. A 50-year-old man in Butts County and a 63-year-old Whitfield County woman are believed to have died from hypothermia.
At least five people were injured in separate sledding accidents in Forsyth and Cherokee counties.
Here’s what you need to know for Thursday:
The forecast: Although the majority of the freezing rain is gone, snow continued to fall late Wednesday, mostly in northern suburbs and north Georgia. Temperatures aren’t expected to climb above freezing until Thursday afternoon, when temperatures should reach the upper 30s, Nitz said.
Snow should move out of the area by late morning, Nitz said.
The roads: If you don’t have to drive Thursday, the best advice is don’t, government leaders said.
“Please, please, please don’t believe that this is a light incident because of the way it appears,” said Mayor Kasim Reed, noting he worries Atlantans are catching a case of cabin fever. “Don’t test the news reports to see if the weather is as bad as we’re saying it is. It is.”
Although road crews plowed snow and dumped de-icing materials all over north Georgia throughout Wednesday, the additional precipitation will continue to make roads slick.
Power companies: As predicted by meteorologists, the storm has taken its toll on trees and power lines, causing many to buckle due to the weight of the ice. Crews, including some from out of state, have been working nonstop to restore electricity.
The airport: While some Thursday morning flights have been canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, its two biggest carriers expect to begin returning to normal operations as temperatures rise in the afternoon.
With ice still on roads and weather conditions dicey, airport officials estimate about 60 to 70 percent of the 2,200 to 2,400 regularly scheduled flights will operate Thursday, while the rest will be canceled. Check airlines’ websites before heading to the airport.
Public transportation: No MARTA buses will run Thursday, including no paratransit buses. But trains will run as conditions allow. MARTA is asking rail customers to be patient and plan extra time to complete their trips.
For the latest information about MARTA and any service updates, please visit itsmarta.com.
Gwinnett County Transit services are also canceled for Thursday.
Schools: Metro students will be off Thursday. But most districts have not yet decided about Friday’s classes.
— Staff writers Michael Kanell, Rhonda Cook, Andria Simmons and Mike Morris and photographer John Spink contributed to this article.
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