The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Potentially paralyzing, historic ice storm targets Atlanta, parts of South

While the Mid-Atlantic awaits a significant snowstorm, extreme ice accumulations could devastate parts of northern Georgia and the Carolinas.

“The [forecast] ice accumulations remain mind-boggling if not historical,” writes the National Weather Service office serving Atlanta.

The NWS forecasts an incredible half to one inch thick coating of ice in a “rough wedge” that includes metro Atlanta, Athens, Augusta, Columbia, and Raleigh-Durham.

In Atlanta, the dangerous conditions move into the region tonight, with heavy icing expected Wednesday.  The ice may change to snow Wednesday night before ending.

The NWS Atlanta office is warning of “impossible” travel conditions.

“Totals may of course be adjusted some in both location and amounts with additional forecasts but overall I want to emphasize again…these are crippling snow and ice totals in this storm of potentially historic proportions,” writes the on-duty forecaster for the NWS Atlanta office. “Residents of north and central Georgia need to do everything they can today to prepare for this event. Residents are very very very strongly urged to stay off the roads Wednesday and Wednesday night.”

Widespread power outages are feared in the region due to the weight of ice on trees and power lines.  Tree damage is likely to be extensive.

“Governor Nathan Deal has already declared a state of emergency for 45 counties, and the state is effectively shutting down for the duration of the storm,” writes Mashable’s Andrew Freedman.

Related: Are meteorologists to blame for snow disasters in Atlanta and Birmingham? | Lessons from Atlanta gridlock: forecasts can and must improve