National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
  < < Go Back
A Georgia Winter Storm
January 28 - 30, 2005

by Terry Murphy

[ map of Georgia highlighting areas hit with significant icing ] A winter storm coated much of North and Central Georgia in a layer of ice causing very dangerous conditions for travel on the highways. There were numerous accidents, and, at times, road closures. In addition, the weight of ice brought down many tree limbs and quite a few power lines. More than a quarter of a million customers lost electrical service at some point during the storm. Flights in and out of Atlanta's International Airport were affected as the number of runways available for take-offs and landings were reduced from the normal 4 to 1 or 2.

The event was set up Friday January 28 when a shallow layer of very cold, dry air pushed into Georgia on strong northeast winds. With temperatures in the 30s early Friday night, an area of rain pushed into the state from the west. When the rain began falling into the cold, dry air temperatures dropped below freezing. The rain began to freeze on contact with the ground or any above-ground object resulting in ice accumulation. This began before midnight Friday. The air became so cold overnight that some of the rain froze BEFORE hitting the ground, resulting in a precipitation type called SLEET. Some areas - mainly in Northeast Georgia, even reported some snow.

Precipitation persisted into Saturday (Jan 29), but began to taper off later in the day. However,a misty drizzle persisted which also froze on contact with above-ground surfaces, so there was additional ice build-up Saturday Night.

By Sunday morning (Jan 30), the precipitation had ended and temperatures finally climbed above the freezing mark across the entire area.

more photos available on our gallery page

A typical scene during the storm
( click image to enlarge )
[ icy road in Lexington, GA - a typical scene across GA ]
courtesy Allen Washington