A steady pelting of sleet and freezing rain has emergency crews and power companies scrambling Wednesday, as ice coated trees continue to crumple, bringing down power lines as they fall.
Georgia Power had more than 5,400 customers in Columbia County alone without power as of 12:30 Wednesday, according to the company’s Web site. Almost 10 times that number were without power across the state as below freezing temperatures, combined with heavy precipitation made roads treacherous and power lines vulnerable to damage.
Rusty Welsh, deputy director for Columbia County Emergency Management, said county road crews were continuously working to keep bridges salted and main roads cleared as the ice continued to accumulate.
“They are doing what that can to keep the roads operational, but we still want people to stay off the roadways if all possible,” Welsh said. “They are still extremely dangerous.”
The primary issue has been falling tree limbs and downed power lines, but Welsh said utility companies seemed to have staged enough crews to keep up with larger outages.
“So far we have been fortunate that power outages a being restored pretty rapidly,” he said.
Welsh said it appeared there might be a break in the storm this afternoon, but he expected more ice and freezing rain to resume in the evening and continue most of Wednesday night.
Low temperatures will cause icy roads to freeze overnight making driving even more hazardous Thursday morning.
Welsh urged those who do have to venture out to use extreme caution and watch for falling ice and tree limbs
“Based on what we have heard it’s not going to warm up until tomorrow midday,” he said. “Be careful for black ice and take it slow.”