Is Atlanta Ready? South Braces for ‘Catastrophic’ Icy Blast

A Georgia DOT sign warns drivers of winter weather as they travel a bleak section of Hwy. 141 on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Norcross, Ga. The scene is the opposite of what drivers experienced two weeks ago when every major artery of metropolitan Atlanta was clogged during the last winter storm. (AP Photo/John Amis)

[NBC News]

A crippling ice storm appeared set to snarl Atlanta’s morning commute and knock out power to towns and cities across Georgia and the Carolinas, forecasters warned early Wednesday.

“Be prepared for power outages, long periods in the cold/dark,” The Weather Channel warned as the freezing weather system moved across the South.

Almost a third of the U.S. population, 93 million people, lives in areas that were under some form of winter weather advisory. A third of those — 32 million — were under winter storm warnings, meaning the only question isn’t whether they’ll get hammered Wednesday, but how badly.

It’s the second winter major storm to slam the South this season, and the epicenter again looks to be Georgia.

Desperate to avoid repeating the fiasco of January, when children were stranded in school gyms overnight and drivers camped in their cars on frozen interstates for 24 hours, authorities rushed to get the word out Tuesday.

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