National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

A Georgia Ice Storm
December 14 - 15, 2005

by Terry Murphy & Gary Beeley

[ map of Georgia highlighting areas hit with significant icing ] On December 14 and 15, 2005 a winter storm produced a heavy load of ice to trees and power lines across much of Northeast Georgia. Power was knocked out in a number of counties as tree limbs and powers lines fell. Some roads were blocked by debris and others became icy - especially the bridges. Hardest hit areas were White, Banks, Hall, and Gwinnett counties where up to 1/2 inch of ice accumulated. Surrounding counties picked up around 1/4 inch. (See below for a listing of reports from affected counties.)

The event was caused by a low pressure system moving out of the Gulf of Mexico. This system pushed an area of rain into Georgia late on the 14th. The rain fell into a shallow layer of cold air. When temperatures in Northeast Georgia fell below freezing overnight, the rain began freezing on contact with all objects above the ground, and, in some cases, with the ground itself. Rain fell for several hours which caused ice to become thick and heavy. Freezing rain ended on the 15th during the day, but not before depositing as much as a half inch of ice in some areas, including Hall, White and Banks Counties, as well as some nearby counties bordering South Carolina.

Reports from individual counties...
  • Banks: 1/4-1/2" ice, roads icy, widespread power outages
  • Barrow: 1/4" or less, numerous power outages and trees down
  • Clarke: less than 1/4", ice on bridges, few trees and powerlines down, not significant
  • Cherokee: 1/4-1/2" ice, numerous power outages and trees down, about 4500 without power
  • Dawson: 1/4" ice, numerous trees and powerlines down
  • Dekalb: less tha 1/4 ", several power outages
  • Forsyth: 1/4" ice, numerous power outages and trees down
  • Fulton: less than 1/4 inch, lots of trees and power outages northeast side
  • Gilmer: 1/4" ice, numerous trees and powerlines down
  • Gwinnett: 1/4-1/2" ice, numerous power outages and trees down, 60000-70000 customers without power at one time.
  • Hall: 1/2 ", bridges icy, ~400 trees down, 100 on GA 400, 8-10 roads closed, widespread power outages
  • Henry: 1/8 "
  • Jackson: 1/4", numerous power outages and trees down, ice on bridges
  • Lumpkin: 1/4" ice, numerous trees and powerlines down.
  • Madison: 1/4" ice, several trees and power lines down
  • Newton: 1/4"
  • Oconee: less than 1/4 ice.
  • Pickens: less than 1/4 inch ice, several trees and powerlines down.
  • Rockdale: 1/4" ice. few trees down
  • Towns: none to trace, no power outages or trees down, no road problems
  • Walton: less than 1/4 ", icy bridges, no trees down
  • White: 1/2" ice, ice on bridges and patchy on roads, numerous trees down

Surface Map Showing Location of Gulf Low on the Morning of the 15th
[ surface map showing storm system on the morning of the 15th ]

Examples of Icing in Gwinnett County, Georgia ( click images to enlarge )
[ icing in trees ] [ thickness of ice on limbs ] [ ice on road signs ]

Photos courtesy of K.C. Curry. Images taken near Dacula at 415 pm on the 15th.