***UPDATE: (9:58 p.m.) CUMMING -- The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office is asking motorists to stay off roadways in to remain inside their homes or a safe strucutre as the storm continues to pass through, as trees and power lines are down throughout the area.
There will not be a reported number of trees down or roads affected until the storm passes, said Deputy Doug Rainwater, a spokesman for the sheriff's office.
He said roads are blocked throughout the county and that crews will work throughout the night to clear them.
A major road that is not expected to be clear by the morning is Buford Highway (Hwy. 20 east) and Samples Road, where the traffic lights are on the ground, Rainwater said.
A severe thunderstorm passing through Forsyth County and north and central Georgia is causing damaging wind and power outages.
The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning at 8:44 p.m. Tuesday until 9:30 p.m., with a watch remaining until 11 p.m.
At 8:43 p.m., severe thunderstorms were located extending from Demorest to near Gainesville to Buford, moving east-southeast at 50 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.
Winds of up to 60 mph with gusts and penny-size hail were expected via radar indications and “multiple reports of downed trees and powerless due to the very strong winds.”
The warning said to expect damage to roofs, sidings and trees.
“This is a dangerous situation. These storms are producing widespread wind damage across northwest and north central Georgia,” the warning said. “Seek shelter now inside a sturdy structure and stay away from windows.”
The warning also instructed residents to wait until the storm has passed if they see wind damage, including hail or flooding.
According to Cumming-based Sawnee EMC, 3,719 customers were without power as of 9:36 p.m., representing 4.46 percent of its customer base in the county. The number was still growing.
Dawson County had 998 customers out of power — 14.14 percent of its customers — and Cherokee County had 13,919 customers out — 77.96 percent.
The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said warned water is causing problems “county wide.”
“We have numerous calls of trees down on roads, traffic signals out and wires down across the county. Use extreme caution while traveling. Stay home if you can,” the agency said.
Sheriff Ron Freeman said on social media that deputies and the fire department are “out cutting trees out of roadways as we speak. Always be careful of live power lines down and watch out for the deputies directing traffic.”
He said the Forsyth County Roads and Bridges Department is also helping with large trees.
“911 cannot help with power outages, but do report downed lines,” he said.