Snowstorm in Dixie strands thousands

A rare snowstorm deep in the heart of Dixieland has stranded thousand of motorist on icy roads overnight and children in schools. More than a few people are pissed off that local resources weren’t tasked earlier and that business and schools did not call a snow day to limit the chaos.

USA Today — The Georgia National Guard was out in force Wednesday to rescue motorists trapped all night in their cars on Atlanta’s icebound freeways from a harsh winter storm that forced many drivers to abandon their cars outright and left children to camp out in their schools. Some commuters pleaded for help via cellphones while still holed up in their cars, while others gave up and trudged miles home. Highways around the nation’s ninth largest metropolitan area were littered with abandoned cars as commuters bailed out, some seeking warmth at shelter at 17 Home Depot that opened their doors to take in wayward motorists.

Police in suburban Atlanta say one of their own helped assist the safe delivery of a baby girl on a gridlocked interstate Tuesday afternoon after snow and ice brought traffic to a crawl.

I’m not trying to be a smart-ass, this is serious and may have led directly to several deaths. But there’s a reason we have state and federal agencies to help people. Unfortunately, this storm happened to hit states run by yahoos who hold government in contempt and this is one predictable consequence.


  1. says

    Even if they have the equipment I’m not at all sure they know how to use it. They put down way too much sand on icy spots here in Austin, enough to make driving difficult even after the ice has melted. Lack of experience plays a big part.

  2. noreligionrequired says

    I am one of those people in the south. I live in Savannah, Ga and I have been watching the news concerning the people in Atlanta. Savannah was expecting 1-2″ of snow, which we did not get, and they closed all the schools, most government entities are closed as well as the port authority. How did Atlanta drop the ball? Call me crazy, but I think some heads are going to roll over the idiocy in Atlanta.

    I feel for all the people stranded up there, but there must come a time when a person takes responsibility for their own life and stop listening to talking heads. Any rational person could’ve looked at the radar and see what’s coming and make the decision to stay home. It reminds me of those people who see a big ass hurricane coming and opts to stay home and fight it out. Why? Folks we live in the southeast, in case you’ve missed it, it DOES NOT snow down here very often, so if you see a winter storm coming, stay home!

    I hope everyone makes it home safe and sound and I hope this serves as a hard learned lesson for the future.

  3. Trebuchet says

    The deniers, of course, will be (probably already are) proclaiming this as proof that global warming is a hoax. And Al Gore is fat!

  4. rowanvt says

    Global warming is true for only certain states at certain times! Like right now it’s true in California, but that’s because we’re liberal hippies and deserve to have our state be destroyed by global warming.

  5. lorn says

    With all due respect I think everyone needs to give the southern leaders a break. They deal with snow and ice … like never. Last serious issue like this was, as I remember it, in the 70s. First time around, in their lifetimes, it should be expected that they would drop the ball.

    As it was there is simple explanation for why this was to be expected: unlike closures due to snow, pretty common farther north, they had a temperatures drop rapidly after a rain. Snow usually takes hours to block traffic. The overpasses, in some cases, froze in 45 minutes. It was harder to time this situation because they kept looking at he expected snowfall. Based on the snowfall the highways around Atlanta should have been passable for another four or five hours. It it went that way there would have been no kids caught at school, far fewer people caught out on the roads, and everyone would be slapping the official’s back over how well they handled it all getting everyone home before closing things down.

    Weathermen will tell you that the transition from rain to glare ice is very hard to gauge. A few degrees make a world of difference as wet but passable roads become ice rinks in minutes, and overpasses and bridges, beat the rush by starting earlier than most would anticipate.

    As it was they misjudged by four to six hours. That’s what inexperience, and looking at snowfall prediction, as opposed to temperature transitions, gets you. This is all new to them. They gave it their best efforts and failed. Had their been more New Yorkers, well aware of how ice can sneak up on you far faster than snow, in high office down south they might have had a fighting chance.

    On the up side, faced with a bad situation they mobilized all the resources they could and made the best of it. Kids went back and sheltered in schools. People pitched in in ways that will likely never be recognized or repaid. They held it together with spit and bailing wire. From what I’m seeing it could have been far worse, and less effectively handled.

    I’m down here in Florida and yesterday they said we would likely get sleet. Today they say the wet roads might freeze. A few hours ago the weathermen were saying we are going to miss all of that and miss freezing by two degrees. Evidently that magic transition between wet and ice is a moving target. You might want to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  6. davidjanes says

    From what I read, part of the problem was that the responses were decentralized and therefore everyone was sent home at the same time, further clogging the roads. It appears that devolution of authority has happened so thoroughly that the various levels of government didn’t even speak to each other about what the other was doing before sending everyone home. I know that the county governments up here try hard to get the kids home before releasing their own workers if possible, as many local businesses state that they follow the county’s lead on closures. Same for the Feds in DC – they do try to coordinate a bit with the DC government and WMATA to make things run a bit smoother.

    Of course, I do believe that all of that need for coordination was learned the hard way a long time ago. It is a pity that Georgia couldn’t learn from our mistakes.

  7. ursamajor says

    There are many reasons to hold Georgia’s state, county and city governments in contempt but this may not have been one of those occasions. We have more equipment, supplies were pre-positioned at strategic locations and road treatments began before the first snowflakes. (Yes, I did see the trucks out)

    I have to second Lorn but with a minor correction, our last major icing in Atlanta was just a few years ago and we tend to get serious icing on the roads every few years. And, yes the transition from wet or slush to ice was fast. I drove home from work on different roads than the ones I drove were just minutes away from becoming ice rinks.
    The lack of coordination between governments did not help, there was excess sand in some places but a major problem was dumb asses on the road.

    During the last snow storm I was forced to take long detours due to drivers parking their cars in the middle of the street and this year the parking in the roadway and abandoning of cars started even earlier.

    As for the weather forecasting, most weather reports for several days had been filled with warnings that every model used gave wildly differing results from all the other models and each model’s results charged radically with very small changes in the input data. Atlanta weather was just being more chaotic than usual.

  8. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    @4. Kaintukee Bob :

    @Trebuchet: How can global warming be true? It is currently COLD outside. Take THAT!

    Not here it isn’t! Outside my house in Adelaide South Australia it’s currently 37 degrees celsius – or in Fahrenheit 98 degrees. Tomorrow its forecast to be 42 (how can you do supertext here?) degrees celsius or 107 F.

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