Atlanta area braces for ice storm; 4 die in Texas

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Atlanta area braces for ice storm; 4 die in Texas
Original shared on FB RT @beerandracing: Hwy 70 near RDU airport, few miles from home, taken today during snowstorm http://t.co/dRGQDgruwr
Again, this was saved on @wral Facebook page which seems to prove original Glenwood Ave photo is indeed real. http://t.co/4DjJI11d2U
Picture from my brother. Way to go Raleigh http://t.co/7lrWQ69PKC
Lamarr Lewis scrapes ice from his car window during a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Doraville, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
A Highway Patrol officer checks on the well being of a stranded motorist on Hammond Road during a winter storm Wednesday Feb. 12, 2014, in Raleigh, N.C. (AP Photo/The News & Observer, Travis Long)
NOAA satellite image of storm moving up the East Coast on February 12, 2014.
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 12: Icicles form on street signs after freezing precipitation fell in Atlanta overnight on Wednesday, February 12, 2014. Drivers were encouraged to stay off of the roads as a state of emergency was declared in 45 Georgia counties. (Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images)
Ice forms on a banner as a lone parked automobile drives through the empty streets of Historic Norcross Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Norcross, Ga. Across the South, residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially "catastrophic" storm is yet to come. (Photo/Jason Getz)
A firefighter looks on as a jack-knifed truck is pulled on the roadway on Interstate 75 Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. From Texas to the South's business hub in Atlanta, roads were slick with ice, more than 350,000 homes and businesses lost electricity, and a wintry mix fell in many areas. More than 20,000 customers were reported without power across the state of Georgia. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Drivers navigate U.S. Hwy 25 in southern Greenville County, as snow falls Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 , near Greenville, S.C. A second winter storm in two weeks pummeled South Carolina, cutting power to tens of thousands and prompting Gov. Nikki Haley to ask President Barack Obama to declare the state a federal disaster area. (AP Photo/ Richard Shiro)
School bus driver Derese Burnette waits for assistance after his bus got stuck along Seawell School Rd. in Chapel Hill, NC, during a snow storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014. A second winter storm in two weeks pummeled South Carolina on Wednesday, cutting power to tens of thousands and prompting Gov. Nikki Haley to ask President Barack Obama to declare the state a federal disaster area. (AP Photo/Ted Richardson)
#CSRAStorm #AugustaGA #IceStorm2014 http://t.co/dmxndmWfwN
Palmetto trees and snow and sleet in South Carolina, posted on Twitter by Rich Owensby.
A truck plows a road in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, as a winter storm moves into the area. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
A truck plows a road in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, as a winter storm moves into the area. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
A Georgia DOT sign warns drivers of winter weather as they travel a bleak section of Hwy. 141 on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Norcross, Ga. The scene is the opposite of what drivers experienced two weeks ago when every major artery of metropolitan Atlanta was clogged during the last winter storm. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Snow plows clear downtown lanes on Interstate 75/85 during a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially "catastrophic" storm is yet to come. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
A pedestrian walks across downtown's North Avenue during a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially "catastrophic" storm is yet to come. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
A motorist drives through freezing rain and sleet on downtown's Spring Street during a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially "catastrophic" storm is yet to come. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Shmetrice Moore, a nurse at an Emory hospital, scrapes snow and ice off her windshield as she and others are released early from their shift before a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Johns Creek, Ga. From Texas to the Carolinas and the South's business hub in Atlanta, roads were slick with ice, tens of thousands were without power, and a wintry mix fell in many areas. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Snow plows clear Interstate 75/85 on the downtown connector while transportation and business grinds to a halt during a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially "catastrophic" storm is yet to come. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Sparse traffic makes its way on the Interstate 75/85 connector just south of downtown Atlanta, Wednesday morning, Feb. 12, 2014. A combination of sleet, snow and freezing rain was expected to coat power lines and tree branches with more than an inch of ice between Atlanta and Augusta. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Ben Gray)
Pedestrians help each other carry groceries on a downtown street as Georgians awake to freezing rain, sleet and snow during a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Slushy sidewalks made even short walking trips treacherous. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Ice freezes on an Interstate 75/85 overpass as freezing rain, sleet and snow brings transportation and commerce to a halt during a winter storm on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in downtown Atlanta. City roads and interstates were largely desolate, showing few vehicle tracks as most people heeded warnings to stay home. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
In this photo taken with a fisheye lens, a lone motorist drives through a slick intersection during the morning commute on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially "catastrophic" storm is yet to come. From Texas to the Carolinas and the South's business hub in Atlanta, roads were slick with ice, tens of thousands were without power, and a wintry mix fell in many areas. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Ice hangs from a school crossing sign on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Atlanta. Across the South, winter-weary residents woke up Wednesday to a region encased in ice, snow and freezing rain, with forecasters warning that the worst of the potentially "catastrophic" storm is yet to come. From Texas to the Carolinas and the South's business hub in Atlanta, roads were slick with ice, tens of thousands were without power, and a wintry mix fell in many areas. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Two Alabama DOT employees work to free up a sand truck from highway 176 around Little River Canyon, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, near Fort Payne, Ala. A winter storm dropped from 1 inch to 3 inches of wintry precipitation across a wide area, turning trees and roads white and forcing hundreds of schools, businesses and government offices to close or open late. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)
Tim Fields, with Keenum Excavation, clears the road with a grader along Hwy 31 on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Vinemont, Ala. Fields was contracted by the state to help clear roads after a winter storm dropped several inches of snow on North Alabama overnight and more is expected. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
A car travels on Blacks Dr. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Greenville, S.C. Snow and icy conditions were expected to continue through Wednesday. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
A car travels on Stevens Rd. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Greenville, S.C. Snow and icy conditions were expected to continue through Wednesday. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Snow and ice build up on the street signs for Snow and McDaniel Streets on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Greer, S.C. Snow and icy conditions were expected to continue in the state through Wednesday. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
A White County Department of Transportation truck plows snow that begins to accumulate on highway 75 north Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, just north of Helen, Ga. In a dire warning Tuesday, forecasters said a "catastrophic" winter storm threatened to bring a thick layer of ice to Georgia and other parts of the South, causing widespread power outages that could leave people in the dark for days. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)
Traffic backs up on southbound I-75 on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 from the Boynton Drive overpass, in Ringgold, Ga. Traffic was backed up for over four miles. Forecasters say a potentially "catastrophic" winter storm threatens to bring a thick layer of ice to Georgia. (AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press, C.B.Schmelter)
State highway 31 is closed to traffic due to icy road conditions Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Vinemont, Ala. Some vehicles bypassed the closure before highway could be plowed. A winter storm dropped several inches of snow on North Alabama overnight and more is expected. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 11: In this handout satellite image provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a winter storm front moves through the Southern states on February 11, 2014 in the United States. In addition to heavy snow for some locations, there is a potential for dangerous ice accumulations of 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch across the Carolinas and northern Georgia by midweek. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)
Vehicles travel slowly on Interstate 65 as several inches of snow cover the area on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Vinemont, Ala. A winter storm dropped several inches of snow on North Alabama overnight and more is expected. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Early morning commuters navigate icy roads in Decatur, Ala., after snow fell overnight Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, John Godbey
Adrianne Lynn DeBruhl, of Cullman, rolls up a snow ball to put on her snowman on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Cullman, Ala. A winter storm dropped several inches of snow on North Alabama overnight and more is expected. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Alex DeBruhl, left, and his sister Adrianne Lynn DeBruhl, of Cullman, make a snowman on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Cullman, Ala. A winter storm dropped several inches of snow on North Alabama overnight and more is expected. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
John Szeto walks along Blacks Drive on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Greenville, S.C. Residents woke to snow that was expected to continue throughout the morning hours. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)
Snow accumulates on a pickup truck as Ryan Warmack, center, walks toward a truck stop trying to locate tire chains during a winter snow storm in Emerson, Ga., about 40 miles north of metro Atlanta, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. The Atlanta area dodged the first punch of a dangerous winter storm Tuesday, but forecasters warned of a "catastrophic" second blow in the form of a thick layer of ice that threatened to bring widespread power outages and leaving people in their cold, dark homes for days. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Barrow County residents make a snowman as a winter snow storm that the National Weather Service predicted to be "an event of historical proportions" blows into Euharlee, Ga., about 40 miles north of metro Atlanta, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Vehicles slowly make their way on a snow-covered Alabama state Route 35, on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Fort Payne, Ala. Residents woke to a blanket of snow that was expected to continue throughout the morning hours. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)
A van kicks up snow and ice as it travels on I-65 North on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Cullman, Ala. A winter storm dropped several inches of snow and ice in North Alabama overnight and more is expected. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 11: A travel advisory sign along I-85 South warns drivers of hazardous driving conditions as a winter storm approaches on February 11, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. A winter storm warning has been issued for the area through Thursday, and storms Tuesday night could result in ice accumulation of up to half an inch. Widespread power outages are expected around Atlanta. (Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images)
State agencies prepare for the approaching winter weather at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency State Operations Center on Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Atlanta. During the meeting Dale Brantley, with the GDOT, said "one of the big issues we are dealing with right now is salt supply." Orders were apparently placed last week, but all of them have not been received yet. Brantley said they expected orders to be delivered throughout the night and into tomorrow. (AP Photo/ Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Curtis Compton)
Ryann and Terri Camacho walk down Alabama highway 176 after checking on a neighbors cows Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014, in Dog Town, Ala. as the area is being blanketed with an unusual amount of snow. A winter storm dropped from 1 inch to 3 inches of wintry precipitation across a wide area, turning trees and roads white and forcing hundreds of schools, businesses and government offices to close or open late. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)
A truck slowly travels on a snow covered Alabama highway 176 Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014 in Dog Town, Ala. A winter storm dropped from 1 inch to 3 inches of wintry precipitation across a wide area, turning trees and roads white and forcing hundreds of schools, businesses and government offices to close or open late. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)
Firefighter Robbie Hairell scrapes snow off of his car Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014 in Dog Town, Ala. A winter storm dropped from 1 inch to 3 inches of wintry precipitation across a wide area, turning trees and roads white and forcing hundreds of schools, businesses and government offices to close or open late. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)
A horse stands in a snow covered field Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014 in Dog Town, Ala. Residents in much of north Alabama woke to heavy snowfall that was expected to continue throughout the morning. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)
Ryann and Terri Camacho walk down Alabama highway 176 after checking on a neighbors cows Tuesday Feb. 11, 2014 in Dog Town, Ala. as the area is being blanketed with an unusual amount of snow. (AP Photo/Hal Yeager)
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By CHRISTINA A. CASSIDY

ATLANTA (AP) - The city dodged the first punch of a dangerous winter storm Tuesday, but forecasters warned of a potentially "catastrophic" second blow in a thick layer of ice that threatened to bring hundreds of thousands of power outages and leave people in their cold, dark homes for days.

The streets and highways in metro Atlanta were largely deserted as people in the South's business hub heeded advice from officials to hunker down at home, especially after the snow jam two weeks ago saw thousands of people stranded on icy, gridlocked roads for hours when 2 inches of snow fell.

"Last time I was totally unprepared, I was completely blindsided," said Lisa Nadir, of Acworth, who sat in traffic for 13 hours and then spent the night in her car when the storm hit Jan. 28. "I'm going to be prepared from now on for the rest of my life."

Nadir was telecommuting from home Tuesday and she had kitty litter in her trunk in case she needed to put it down on icy roads for extra traction.

The forecast drew comparisons to an ice storm in the Atlanta area in 2000 that left more than 500,000 homes and businesses without power and an epic storm in 1973 that caused an estimated 200,000 outages for several days. In 2000, damage estimates topped $35 million.

Eli Jacks, a meteorologist with National Weather Service, said forecasters use words like "catastrophic" sparingly.

"Sometimes we want to tell them, 'Hey, listen, this warning is different. This is really extremely dangerous and it doesn't happen very often,'" Jacks said.

This kind of language was first used in May 1999 for a tornado in Moore, Okla. Forecasters called it a "tornado emergency" to make sure the public knew it was not a typical tornado.

"I think three-quarters of an inch of ice anywhere would be catastrophic," Jacks said.

But the Atlanta area and other parts of the South are particularly vulnerable because there are so many trees and limbs hanging over power lines. When the ice builds up on them, limbs snap and fall, knocking out power.

"There is no doubt that this is one of Mother Nature's worst kinds of storms that can be inflicted on the South, and that is ice. It is our biggest enemy," Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said.

While only light rain fell in Atlanta on Tuesday, cities 40 miles northwest saw 2 to 3 inches of snow. The rain was expected to turn into sleet and freezing rain overnight.

More than 200 utility vehicles from Florida, North Carolina and other Southern states gathered in a parking lot near one of the grandstands at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The state had more than 22,000 tons of salt, 70,000 gallons of brine 45,000 tons of gravel and brought in 180 tons of additional salt and sand. The goal was to make sure at least two interstate lanes were available in each direction. Then material would be used on the most heavily used roads off the highways. Officials were also considering re-routing traffic in extreme circumstances.

"It's certainly going to be a challenge for us. Ice is definitely different than snow," said state Transportation Commissioner Keith Golden. "It is very difficult for us to plow ice."

Hundreds of Georgia National Guard troops were on standby in case evacuations were needed at hospitals or nursing homes, and more than 70 shelters were set to open. President Barack Obama declared a state of emergency in Georgia, ordering federal agencies to help the state and local response during the storm. Deal said a priority for that request was generators.

Metro Atlanta, the economic engine of the South with the headquarters of Fortune 500 companies including Home Depot, UPS, Delta Air Lines and Coca-Cola, resembled a ghost town. Schools were closed and grocery store shelves were bare of milk and bread.

State and local officials, chastened by tough criticism for their slow response to the Jan. 28 storm, were eager to prove they could handle winter storms.

On Monday, before a drop of freezing rain or snow fell, Deal declared a state of emergency for nearly a third of the state and state employees were told they could stay home. He expanded the declaration Tuesday to more than half the state's counties.

Dustin Wilkes, 36, of Atlanta, was one of the few who headed to the office Tuesday. His parking lot was mostly deserted.

"I think they probably overreacted," Wilkes said. "It's to be expected."

Atlanta has a painful past of being ill-equipped to deal with snowy weather. Despite officials' promises after a crippling ice storm in 2011, the Jan. 28 storm proved they still had many kinks to work out.

Around the Deep South, slick roads were causing problems. In North Texas, at least four people died in traffic accidents on icy roads, including a Dallas firefighter who was knocked from an Interstate 20 ramp and fell 50 feet, according to a police report.

In northeastern Alabama, two National Guard wreckers were dispatched to help clear jackknifed 18-wheelers on Interstate 65. Gov. Robert Bentley said one lesson learned from the storm two weeks ago was to get those wreckers organized earlier.

Michelle Owen, of Mount Pleasant, Tenn., was driving north on Interstate 65 when she hit an icy patch on a bridge. Her sport-utility vehicle and a trailer it was pulling fishtailed, sending her 18-year-old son Tyler through the rear window and on to the car that was atop the trailer.

"He wound up on top of the Mustang we were hauling," Owen said. He suffered only minor injuries.

Parts of northeast Mississippi could see up to 4 inches of snow. South Carolina, which hasn't seen a major ice storm in nearly a decade, could get a quarter to three-quarters of an inch of ice and as much as 8 inches of snow in some areas.

Delta canceled nearly 2,200 flights on Tuesday and Wednesday, most of them in Atlanta.

Georgia Looks To Avoid Embarrassment In Second Storm
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