Atlanta Losing Power as 'Catastrophic' Storm Begins

Georgia governor: Ice 'our biggest enemy'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 12, 2014 7:56 AM CST | Updated Feb 12, 2014 7:59 AM CST

(Newser) – The warnings haven't minced words, and the potentially "catastrophic" weather set to hit the South has begun, with Atlanta already feeling the effects: Some 39,000 and counting have lost power there, with that number climbing by the thousands within spans as short as 10 minutes. In terms of thousands, 2,200 flights have been axed out of the city's airport, the world's busiest, with just 300 expected to depart today. Ice began to descend on major roads around 4am, and "all of the interstates, all of the secondary routes, all of the surface streets, are all iced over," said a local radio host, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Where you are right now is where you’re going to be tomorrow morning, there's no doubt about it."

Of particular concern are the many tree limbs over power lines; weighed-down icy limbs can snap, causing extensive outages, Fox News notes. Experts are warning that power could be out for a week in some areas, CNN reports. Indeed, ice is "our biggest enemy," says Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. But much of the South is bracing for snow and ice: Three to five inches of snow could hit Atlanta; southwestern Virginia could see 14 inches, while Charlotte, NC, could get a foot. South Carolina hasn't logged a significant ice storm in a decade, but it could see as much as three-quarters of an inch of ice ... plus up to 8 inches of snow.

A passenger waits under the departure board showing hundreds of cancellations at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/David Tulis)
A contractor with Georgia Power works to trim tree limbs away from power lines in Atlanta, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014.   (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ben Gray)
Kenlee Jarrett, 8, of Rome, Ga., slides down the hill outside of Shorter University as snow continued to fall on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014.   (AP Photo/The Rome News-Tribune, Paul Halfacre)
A White County Department of Transportation truck plows snow that began to accumulate on highway 75 north Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, just north of Helen, Ga.   (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)
A Georgia transportation sign warns motorists on Interstate 75 about a winter snow storm blowing into the state in what the National Weather Service predicted to be "an event of historical proportions,"...   (AP Photo/David Tulis)
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