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TODAY   |  February 12, 2014

Atlanta braces for wicked storm

People are readying for a storm in the Atlanta area, which was already paralyzed once by bad weather earlier this winter. Sleet is accumulating, making it difficult to drive. Fears are rising that the area will have thousands without power. The Weather Channel’s Sam Champion reports.

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>> well. of course, atlanta was crippled by winter storm leon two weeks ago. so what lessons have they learned? how are they fairing this time around? my colleague at the weather channel , sam champion is in atlanta right now. what are you seeing, sam?

>> reporter: good morning, al, and good news is -- you've been seeing these pictures all morning long -- folks are ready for this storm. it's the smaller totals that will be the most crippling. inch to two inches of ice. this little bit of sleet. well, come right back, before you get to the storm spreaders, take a look at that. that is measurable accumulating sleet in the atlanta area this morning. quick look over my shoulder, going to look fairly dark because i-75 is basically empty. there are a few cars on the roads today. and i would say don't do that if you're still within a shot of our camera here. going to do an unorthodox move. but i want to show you what it looks like here on the road surfaces . this is the accumulating sleet beneath that cone. that is what's on the treated roads. it's going to slush up a little bit, but it's difficult to drive on. now to the salt spreaders and trucks. atlanta 's got 125 spreaders, trucks on the roads in the atlanta metro area trying to take care of these road surfaces . but the good news is, word got out, people are not on the roads. you don't see the cars and trucks pulled off the side of the road like you saw. store shelves empty, atlantans getting ready during the day yesterday. there are 70,000 power outages in the state of georgia . it will be catastrophic as it continues throughout the day. we're talking about 1/4 inch of ice and an inch of ice in the area with strong, gusty winds. and once you get the coating of ice on the power lines and those winds come through, down come the tree limbs and power lines . last time about 2,000 was the benchmark, there were 500,000 people without power, and that is the great fear for this area today. quick look at the airport, almost 2,600, maybe close to 3,000 flights already canceled. nationwide because of this storm. al, this is going to be a really difficult day. and as you said, we've got about 36 hours of accumulating sleet in this area. a little coating of snow, as well. and then you get your several inches to feet of snow in northern new england . al?

>> yeah. i tell you, sam, people are going to be dealing with this in the southeast probably for weeks to