Atlanta Ice Storm: 'Catastrophic' Storm Could Be Worst In Decades

An Atlanta ice storm expected to hit in the next day has residents of the city hunkering down and forecasters predicting widespread destruction and blackouts.

On Tuesday a massive storm rolled through the Southeast that blanketed many areas under ice and snow, leading to at least five weather-related deaths and snarled roadways across the region. But the worst may be yet to come, as forecasters have predicted a "catastrophic" ice storm for Atlanta.

The city actually dodged much of the first winter storm, but residents were taking no chances on Tuesday. Streets and highways in the city were almost entirely deserted as residents learned their lesson from another winter storm two weeks ago that caused motorists to be stranded for hours when two inches of snow fell.

Forecasters said the Atlanta ice storm will look much like a storm in 2000 that left more than 500,000 homes and businesses without power.

They have stressed to Atlanta residents that the coming ice storm is nothing to take lightly. Eli Jacks, a meteorologist with National Weather Service, noted that the term used to describe the storm --- "catastrophic" --- has been used sparingly by forecasters.

"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 told The Associated Press.

After taking criticism for failing to respond to January's snow storm, Atlanta officials are determined to head off the ice storm. More than 200 utility vehicles from a range of states across the region have already gathered in a parking lot at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The state also brought in more than 22,000 tons of salt, 70,000 gallons of brine, 45,000 tons of gravel. and 180 tons of additional salt and sand.

The Atlanta ice storm is expected to be one of the largest the state --- and the entire south --- has seen in years. Forecasters noted that even a tenth of an inch of ice is enough to turn a road into a skating rink, and the storm in Atlanta is expected to bring more than double that amount.