published Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Unlike 1973 storm, weather to warm by Thursday in Georgia

ATLANTA — Georgia's state climatologist Bill Murphey recalls the snapping of trees under the weight of ice during an epic storm in January 1973. It left an estimated 200,000 people without electricity for several days.

But unlike the 1973 storm, which was followed by a blast of cold air, warmer temperatures are in the forecast for Georgia by Thursday afternoon. The National Weather Service projects a high of 48 degrees in Atlanta on Thursday and 51 on Friday.

Murphey said the weather setup for this week's storm is similar in some respects to winter storms in January 2000 and January 2005.

The 2000 ice storm left more than 500,000 homes and businesses without electricity.

The 2005 storm knocked out power to 250,000 homes in metro Atlanta and North Georgia.

Generators requested

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal says asking for generators was a priority in a request for winter weather assistance to President Barack Obama.

Deal said he requested federal assistance Monday night. Officials have predicted that ice accumulations could lead to widespread power outages as freezing rain begins to fall. Deal said the federal declaration also allows state officials to request food, blankets and other necessities.

The federal declaration authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate all disaster relief efforts in the 89 counties where Deal declared a state of emergency on Monday afternoon.

Deal said FEMA is authorized to provide equipment and resources at its discretion, and the federal government is paying for 75 percent of emergency assistance it provides.

Flights cancelled

As a winter storm with potential to coat the South with ice and snow moves in, nearly 900 flights have been canceled at three of the region's major airports.

Tracking service FlightAware shows that before dawn Tuesday, 894 flights for the day had been canceled into and out of the main airports in Atlanta, Dallas and Charlotte, N.C.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the main hub for Delta Air Lines, led the nation in cancellations with 368.

Delta is allowing customers to make free one-time changes to their itineraries.

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