The icy hand of winter tightened its grip on Northeast Georgia as night fell Sunday, setting the stage for the area's first brush with severe seasonal weather - icy conditions that could continue into Tuesday.
An ice storm warning issued Sunday afternoon for Jackson, Madison, Oglethorpe, Banks, Hall and White counties was expected to be expanded Sunday night to include Athens-Clarke and other counties westward toward the metro Atlanta area, said Robert Beasley, a forecaster with the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City.
The initial warning was set to expire at 6 a.m. today, but that deadline is likely to be extended, Beasley said. Iceaccumulations are expected to range from one-quarter to one-half inch in the warning area, according to Beasley.
Temperatures are not expected to rise above 30 degrees in the Athens area today, Beasley said. With continuing drizzle and some heavier precipitation in the forecast, ice accumulations could grow by another half-inch today, Beasley said. And it's possible that icy conditions could continue into Tuesday in the Athens area, he added.
As temperatures dropped to near or below 32 degrees in the area Sunday evening, water accumulated from the day's steady rain began to freeze.
In some areas, ice-laden trees were reported down. Ice was reported forming on trees in Banks, Hart, Madison, Oconee and Franklin counties Sunday night.
Isolated power outages were reported across the area, particularly in Athens-Clarke, Banks and Hart counties, according to reports.
Georgia Power was ''not seeing that many'' outages Sunday night, but the utility had opened its storm center and put repair crews south of metro Atlanta on notice to expect to travel into north Georgia today, company spokeswoman Carol Boatright said.
The state Department of Transportation was receiving reports of patchy ice on bridges across a 21-county area of northeast Georgia Sunday night, according to Teri Pope, DOT District 1 communications officer.
Road icing was a particular problem in Habersham, White, Towns and Union counties, Pope said.