By Gina Cherelus


(Reuters) - Strong winds, quarter-sized hail and lightning ripped through towns in northern Georgia, killing one man and leaving several cities with severe damage and power outages on Wednesday, local media and officials said.


The man died when a tree fell on a home near Braselton, about 53 miles northeast of Atlanta, just before 9 p.m. on Tuesday, according to Fox 5, a local news affiliate, citing the Jackson County Emergency Management office.


The name of the deceased was not immediately released.


As the storm slowly crossed the state on Tuesday afternoon, gusts of winds of about 60 miles per hour toppled trees and power lines, the National Weather Service said. Photos on social media showed large balls of hail and massive fallen trees.

A severe thunderstorm warning was issued until 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday for about 10 counties. By Wednesday morning there were no active storm watches, warnings or advisories for the area.

Several school systems in the north of the state said they would begin classes two hours late on Wednesday due to the power outages and large number of downed trees.

More than 170,000 residents in north Georgia and the Atlanta metro area lost power at the height of the storm, according to Georgia Power. Most of them were reconnected before dawn.

"Service restored to more than 135k overnight, additional crews moving in from other parts of state. Thank you for your continued patience," Georgia Power (@GeorgiaPower) wrote on Twitter.

Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) reported that only about 15,000 customers were without power in north Georgia and the Atlanta area by early Wednesday.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)