2nd wallop of winter; Atlanta idled by ice storm

Ice storm knocks out power to 177,000 in Georgia

Published On: Feb 12 2014 12:08:27 PM EST   Updated On: Feb 12 2014 09:52:42 PM EST
ATLANTA -

With up to 1½ inches of ice around metro Atlanta and 3 to 5 inches of snow in north Georgia, utility companies say more than 177,000 customers were without power as ice coated trees and brought branches and power lines down.

And more is coming. National Weather Service forecasters say the storm -- packed with sleet, snow, rain and ice -- is a potentially "catastrophic event."

"This is one of Mother Nature's worst kinds of storms that can be inflicted on the South," Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal told reporters Tuesday afternoon. "That is ice. It is our biggest enemy."

In Georgia, more than 400 members of the National Guard were deployed for weather duty, and about 100 each for the Carolinas and Alabama. The National Guard also opened 35 of its armories in Georgia to be repurposed as shelters and warming centers, CNN affiliate WSB-TV reported.

The storm system was taking its toll on travel.

Nationwide, more than 2,600 flights were canceled, according to FlightAware.com, and more than 800 of those cancellations occurred at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. That includes all flights Wednesday to and from Jacksonville International Airport.

At JIA, nearly a dozen flights have already been canceled, and according to flight crews, Thursday and Friday will be even worse.

Elizabeth Lippincott, who's traveling to Rome on a family vacation, said months of anticipation turned into disappointment for her three kids and husband. Her connecting flight in Atlanta was canceled because of weather, and it hasn't been rescheduled, delaying the family's international adventure.

Lippincott said after a few hours, the airlines were able to get her on a flight to Minneapolis, rerouting her around the snow and ice storm that's walloping the Northeast.

Georgia's Department of Transportation put crews on 12-hours shifts to salt, sand and scrape the roadways. Gov. Deal said the state brought in an additional 180 tons of salt and sand, and he urged residents not to put themselves "in jeopardy or danger."

Residents complied. Tuesday's rush-hour traffic was light. Traffic clustered around gas stations and grocery stores.

Throughout the Southeast, hundreds of businesses, churches, government offices and school systems were closed because of the weather, CNN affiliates reported.

Among the cities with lengthy lists of closings were Atlanta; Nashville; Birmingham, Alabama; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Charleston, South Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

In Atlanta, the U.S. Women's National Team postponed its soccer match with Russia, which was scheduled to take place Wednesday in the Georgia Dome. It also canceled its training session Tuesday evening.

Georgia winter storm response by the numbers