Arctic blast: Winter storm brings dangerous roads, power outages to Georgia
ATLANTA - The Arctic blast that weather officials are calling a "once-in-a-generation" storm has hit Georgia, bringing high winds, freezing cold temperatures, and power outages.
The winds and rain toppled trees across the metro Atlanta area, causing dangerous conditions that had crews racing to repair.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency earlier this week, saying that officials most fear power outages caused by wind, which could cut off heating to homes and health care facilities. Officials warn wind could also delay reconnecting power.
"It may be very hard to get the crews to fix a downed power outage until it’s safe to do so," Kemp said.
GEORGIA WEATHER: ARCTIC BLAST TIMELINE
As of 5 a.m. Friday, nearly 100,000 Georgians are without power as temperatures remain below freezing.
At an apartment complex off of Farington Drive in Stonecrest, a tree snapped in two and crashed into the building. No one was hurt, but the residents had to be evacuated for their safety.
Thousands have lost power in Atlanta and the surrounding metro area as crews address downed power lines.
Georgia Power said in a statement at around 11 a.m. on Friday it had restored power to approximately 120,000 customers. Outage maps showed thousands more were still without power.
Crews bustled around the city in dangerously cold temperatures to restore power.
"Our teams are working safely and as quickly as possible to restore service in these extreme winter conditions, as we continue to deal with high winds and icy roads," Ryan Poole, Georgia Power Manager of Storm Center Operations, said. "To our customers directly affected by this winter storm, we recognize it’s extremely cold and that we’re in the midst of the holiday season. On behalf of the Georgia Power team, we thank you for your patience and understanding."
Georgia Power's outage map shows thousands of customers are without power in DeKalb County, particularly in Stone Mountain, Lithonia, Decatur and Ellenwood. In Gwinnett County, several outages in Peachtree Corners also affected more than 2,000 customers.
Georgia Power reported hundreds of customers are affected by outages in other areas. South of the perimeter, hundreds of Forest Park, College Park and Jonesboro customers lost power.
Around 16 outages in Roswell affected several hundred customers.
In Cobb County, parts of Marietta, Kennesaw and Mableton were experiencing outages.
Southeast and west Atlanta also shows hundreds of customers lost power.
How to report, monitor a power outage
Georgia Power customers and report and check the status of power outages at www.georgiapower.com/storm or by contacting Georgia Power at 888-891-0938.
Customers can subscribe to outage alerts for text message updates.
Winter weather prep in Georgia
A Wind Chill Warning is in effect through noon on Saturday in north Georgia counties, where wind chills could make the air feel 20 degrees colder than the actual temperature. A Wind Chill Advisory covers everything south of the mountains, where chills will be 10-15 degrees colder than the actual temperature. This will put most of the FOX 5 area in the single digits or even below zero.
With temperatures that low, officials are warning residents about the threat of black ice caused by the overnight rain. Drivers should remain cautious and expect icy spots.
METRO ATLANTA WARMING CENTERS: WHERE, WHEN THEY OPEN AHEAD OF FREEZING WEATHER
Georgia Department of Transportation workers in brine trucks were on the move before the storm even hit, treating 21,000 miles of state roads, interstates, and bridges to try and reduce the possibility of black ice.
Atlanta airport prep
The arctic blast has also affected travelers expecting to take to the skies for the holidays. As of 10 p.m. Thursday, more than 100 flights have been canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
Airport officials say they have been getting ready for any impacts and have been meeting over the past two days to prepare for the storm.
"We had a winter weather meeting just a short time ago, we had one two days ago as well. So, we're looking and working with our forecasters, and we're working with our partners to make sure that we are prepared," said Andrew Gobeil, a Hartsfield-Jackson Airport spokesman.
State officials will open warming centers at 18 state parks. Many local governments are also opening warming centers.
The University of Georgia has closed all its campuses on Friday. Stone Mountain Park has suspended all activities, rides, and events. However, there are not many closures and cancelations as many schools have off Friday ahead of the holidays.
James Stallings, director of the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, urged people to make preparations to survive for 72 hours without power. He urged people to wrap outdoor pipes, leave indoor faucets dripping and open cabinets under sinks to warm pipes. He also warned people not to use grills, camp stoves or generators indoors, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
Stallings asked people traveling away from home during Christmas to make sure neighbors could access their homes in case pipes burst.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.