Let’s Talk Snow

January 29, 2014 9:16 am

by Charlie · 96 comments

There’s a lot of Wednesday morning quarterbacking going on regarding yesterday’s snowfall, Georgia’s preparedness, and the inability to get the interstates clear.  We’re a political blog and we’ll dive into the politics of the situation, but first, let’s remember that we still have Georgians trapped on the roads, sheltering in their schools, or otherwise bunkered somewhere between work and home.  This is a mess.

There’s a reason we remember other storm events like 1982 or 1993.  They don’t come around that often, but when they do, they leave a mark.

There’s going to be a lot of finger pointing at our leaders over this.  Already and sadly predictably, Democratic campaign operatives are working overtime to make sure the Governor pays a political price.  That’s reactionary, knee-jerk, and blame shifting.

The problem (as I heard articulated quite well by Tim Bryant on WGAU this morning) is that most metro Atlanta schools decided they would try to squeeze in a full or half day.  That’s not the Governor’s decision.

Most Atlantans (and their employers) decided Tuesday should be a normal work day, or that employees would just leave when the snow started to accumulate.  It seems everyone in the metro area decided to go home yesterday at the same time.  That would be problematic under the best of circumstances.

On a day with temps in the mid-twenties and with rapid snowfall, that’s the recipe for disaster.  Surface streets iced over quickly, backing up the clogged interstates.  With the interstate congested from an hour into the event, there is no way to bring in salt trucks or plows.

The result, as we know, is that some folks took 10+ hours to get home, others spent the night in their cars, and many cars were abandoned (similar to 1982) exacerbating a problem and guaranteeing the cleanup will linger.

It’s easy to call for someone’s head.  After all, when there’s trouble “someone should do something”. But we know how this works.  We listened to the early forecasts that said metro Atlanta would get little to no snow, then “some accumulation”, that only became a Winter Storm Warning after most had in their minds Tuesday would be normal, but maybe with an early exit.

I’ll admit that I did the same.  It took me over 3 hours to get home to Marietta from the Capitol. I was lucky that I tried to leave downtown at 12:30.  A friend that left about an hour after me who lives nearby reports an 11 hour commute.

Also, this is going to linger.  I-285 is now a parked wall of semi-trucks, facing sheets of ice.  Some are likely to run out of gas before the roads can be cleared.  There are a lot of cars that were abandoned that will be towed.  They won’t be easy to find.  A lot of gas stations and other businesses near off ramps or on major arteries were used to abandon cars, and it’s going to take a while to get those cars moved or towed.

Whose fault is this?  Politicians?  Employers?  Those of us that didn’t heed the caveat to pay attention to forecasts that may change?  Mother nature?

It’s all of the above.  It’s an event.  These things do happen.  The priority now is to protect life and property.  It’s no longer about preventing inconvenience.

Prayers to those who remain stranded, and for those first responders and others working with various agencies, utilities, and others trying to get us home, keep us safe and/or warm, and fix this mess.

In the end, there’s some wisdom in the axiom “Everybody talks about the weather but nobody ever does anything about it.”  Because, there are some things that we can’t change.  Could we have handled it better?  Sure.  Would there still have been massive inconvenience?  My history of 45 winters says 3” of snow is going to shut this city down.  Next time, hopefully we’ll do the shut down before half of the snow has already fallen.

{ 96 comments… read them below or add one }

Donald Palmisano Jr. (@DPalmisanoMAG) January 29, 2014 at 9:29 am

Let’s Talk Snow — Peach Pundit http://t.co/Xl5EO9HcUl

Matt Stout January 29, 2014 at 9:29 am

Vance Smith smiles knowingly

Monica January 29, 2014 at 9:46 am

The problem yesterday was that not many actually believed we were gonna get snow, the last time I checked (before it actually snowed) we had 70% chance by evening, when it actually started in Atlanta – we were at 20%. Our meteorologists have cried wolf so many times, we just don’t buy their horror stories any more.

The Governor could have ordered schools to stay closed, he could have given a public warning to businesses to stay closed for the day. He simply didn’t think we were gonna get this kind of weather, and honestly, most of us didn’t.

He is gonna get blamed, and that’s normal. He could have done things differently, and it was a mistake that he didn’t.

It’s best for him to admit to it, and now stay visible and aggressive with recovery. He’s certainly not gonna lose the election over this -I wish he would because I don’t trust him or like him one bit. But it’s gonna take way more than this to break up the good ol’ boys club at the Georgia Dome..

Charlie January 29, 2014 at 9:50 am

This has happened before. SnowJam in 1982 had folks stranded for days. You know what came out of that? Longhorn Steakhouse:

“The first restaurant [in Buckhead, on Peachtree Street] opened in August of 1981, and it struggled, barely survived,” admits LongHorn Steakhouse President Dave George. “And in that following January, there was a major snowstorm in Atlanta that brought the city to a halt, so we pulled a sign out front that said ‘Drinks $1 While It Snows.’ So all these people forced to pull over walked in ’til they filled the place up. And over the storm’s three days, the steaks plus the genuinely friendly atmosphere surprised people, generating loyalty.”

that event—taking place January 12, 1982—became known as the “Snow Jam” and has a tribute staged every five years (mostly recently in September of 2006). the customer base has snowballed since that occasion.”

http://www.airtranmagazine.com/features/2006/12/longhorn-steakhouse

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 9:55 am

Yeah I was stuck in that one too. But it only took us 4 hours to get from Alpharetta to the Equitable Building where we spent the night. Yesterday’s traffic was much worse. And the next day about lunch time we were able to head home.

Charlie January 29, 2014 at 10:01 am

The metro area has also added about 2 Million people since then and only one major new road (GA-400). And likely, no additional snow equipment.

Same problem + more people = bigger problem.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:06 am

Also a lot and I mean a lot more trucks on our roads than there used to be.

greencracker January 29, 2014 at 10:08 am

Trucks? Just wait’ll those predictions of more cargo thru a deepened Port of Savannah come true. Then you’ll see some trucks.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:14 am

Yeah trucks really should be reserved for the last mile and instead they should improve the rail infrastructure to the port.

Chris Huttman January 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Great story about Longhorn.

The Last Democrat in Georgia January 30, 2014 at 5:36 am

+1…Good stuff, Charlie.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 9:51 am

Charlie the state DOT deserves a lot of blame. A little pretreatment of hills and bridges on expressways and major roads would have made a huge difference. Instead they took a wait and see attitude which blew up in their face. In my opinion the entire state government should be dismissed for incompetence.

griftdrift January 29, 2014 at 10:07 am

How do you treat roads with 2 million cars on them? The jams started as early as 1:00pm and only got worse.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:12 am

Right that’s why you PREtreat problem areas. Yesterday morning every bridge and big hill on metro Atlanta highways should have been treated.

griftdrift January 29, 2014 at 10:16 am

It’s a good question. They probably should have started earlier. However the mistake here was not anticipating that everyone inside the perimeter would all try to leave at the same time the trucks needed to get on the road.

Once the roads hit capacity (and again, this happened at about 3:00pm) we were beyond the point of no return.

Remember, the roads were fine prior to sundown. It was congestion that had everything stopped. Not ice. Once the freezing started, there was no way to fix it.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:22 am

The roads were most certainly not fine as I spent the hours between 12 and 3 helping people stuck trying to climb the hill on Akers mill which quickly became impassible. By 1230 hills were too slick for many vehicles, by 1250 we were in full gridlock. The DOT is looking for excuses now.

Charlie January 29, 2014 at 10:26 am

I was on Akers Mill at about 1:30 in a real wheel drive convertible (top up and seat heaters on thank God) and wasn’t slipping there. The problem was gridlock on both Powers Ferry and 41 at that point. It took an hour to get back on 75 which was moving (slowly). Another 1.5 hours to get to the South Loop. By then, congestion was letting the ice develop everywhere. But I still believe as Grift says that congestion, not ice, is what got us to the point of no return.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:32 am

Charlie the hill going up towards cumberland like you were coming from Heirloom market did indeed have several cars that couldn’t make it up which is why there was that huge backup on Akers mill. Cars I peronsally helped were a fit, a grand marquis, and regal. By 3 almost no one was getting up the hill but by then I had to walk to new northside to meet my wife who left her car at the waffle house.

griftdrift January 29, 2014 at 10:42 am

I’m sure there were patches on hills but sorry, that’s a symptom, not the disease. It was people not being able to get out on the major arteries that prevented trucks from getting to side streets like Akers Mill

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:48 am

Here’s a question the state and city should be asked, what if we had to evacuate the city. Let’s say the CDC blew up and released a cloud of deadly things, if we can’t handle everyone being on the road at the same time, how would they evacuate the metro area?

griftdrift January 29, 2014 at 10:58 am

Very good question.

Here’s what everyone is missing while they are busy talking about salt trucks and whether forecasters were right.

This was a traffic problem only made evident by a weather problem.

Part of the post mortem should be how to we proactively shut off certain arteries to funnel traffic in the most effective manner. Once the DOT saw that we were reaching the point of no return, they should have been able to coordinate without local authorities to shut off certain on ramps, institute contraflow, etc.

That’s where the solution starts. Not by throwing more salt trucks at it.

cj January 29, 2014 at 10:33 am

On tv they are saying that they did pre-treat but were overwhelmed by all the cars suddenly on the road and so were unable to follow up. We’ll see if that was in fact the case. That being said anticipating how people will respond in an emergency is emergency management 101. The key is for govt. to anticipate. Hurricanes are managed largely through anticipation of the event. Folks we have a lot of experience with snow in this country… a lot of knowledge about how to manage this kind of event. This wasn’t a Hurricane Katrina type event. There really is no excuse for this.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:39 am

I heard the city say it had pretreated but it was the state dot that would have responsibility for things like 285. My wife, who’s from new jersey so she knows what a treated road looks like, complained the entire time she was in the car on 400 and 285 that they had done nothing to the roads.

cj January 29, 2014 at 11:05 am

I live in the City so wasn’t sure about what happened in other areas. You are right that we’re hearing about pre-treatment from the City but not the State. That being said I’d like to see some evaluation of how successful it was. I’m hearing City roads are “slightly” better than the interstate, but this may just be a function of less traffic?

cj January 29, 2014 at 9:59 am

Ok, so some pretty basic questions: did the same thing happen in North Carolina or other Southern metro areas that were also slammed with this same storm? I just talked with family in Chapel Hill and schools were closed in advance even though it wasn’t supposed to snow until the evening – as Atlanta’s should have been. It looks like schools there are being criticized for the opposite problem of closing too early. Additionally, apparently this was treated very seriously by the state with significant advance warning for businesses to shut down. Do other states just assume that businesses and schools will make the right decision or do state emergency management agencies provide some guidance or strong advice? A pretty serious post mortem should be in order here. That everyone would start leaving work when they saw the heavy snow is not something that should be “unanticipated” by our emergency management personnel.

Dave Bearse January 29, 2014 at 10:16 am

Georgia is open for business. If the support to conduct business isn’t there, and it costs millions, it’s the price to be paid.

Dr. Monica Henson January 29, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Chapel Hill is a sleeply small town compared to metro Atlanta in terms of population and traffic. “Rush hour” in other Southeastern cities, with the exceptions of Charlotte and Miami, is laughable if you live through metro Atlanta rush hour on a regular basis.

cj January 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm

You can expand to look at the entire triangle area where traffic is pretty fierce. I’m sure there are lots of problems in all these areas, but you certainly aren’t seeing the mess that is here. If Charlotte is your benchmark, here is the headline today: Unlike Atlanta, orderly school closings at CMS (Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools). Also, if you read the articles in the newspaper, the precision of their ability to describe exactly what they have done is impressive: lane miles plowed, salt applied, pre-treatment strategies (exactly where these pre-treatments were applied!). It is nothing like the garbled message you are hearing from our leaders. I lived in DC in the early 1990s pre and post competent professional leadership in running govt. (including handling snowstorms) and having folks who know what they are doing makes a world of difference.

greencracker January 29, 2014 at 10:00 am

I got to my station fine on MARTA then just had a three-mile drive thru clear neighborhood streets.

My husband tho, is still frozen in his Cobb Co. office. I blame his company for not canceling work. It’s a timber company, not the fire department … non-essential.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:01 am

Also I wanted to point out again that Atlanta drivers suck. Seriously just slow down and be patient, there was an accident this morning when someone tried to pass another driver on an icy road and went off the road. Also if your tires are bad stay off the road, I helped about a dozen folks yesterday and at least half of them were driving on bald tires.

Charlie January 29, 2014 at 10:28 am

On this we can agree. 3.5 hours into my journey we exited at the S. Loop from I-75. The idiot in front of me also in a RWD car (CTS) almost came to a full stop on the off ramp. I debated doing a pit maneuver to get him out of the way as he slid, because there were 20 of us behind him going 10-15 mph to get up and over the snowpack/ice. Had he actually stopped, none of us would have made it up that ramp, and we would have all ended up likely stuck there for the duration.

mountainpass January 29, 2014 at 10:23 am

Where is the personal responsibility?

If your job requires you to be there come hell or high water, then you need equipment that can get you there, and to know when to move to avoid the traffic jams that always happen when these things hit midday in GA. If not make the call and stay home, or prepare to spend the night at work.

Thomas Adams (@GeorgiaCRE) January 29, 2014 at 10:30 am

Let’s Talk Snow – There’s a lot of Wednesday morning quarterbacking going on regarding yesterda… http://t.co/83ZWW0QCfa

Chris Huttman January 29, 2014 at 10:33 am

ATLANTA (CBS ATLANTA) -

Were you around for the snowstorm that shut Atlanta down in 2011?

After that storm, Gov. Nathan Deal announced changes to the way the state would handle the next snow or ice storm.

The Department of Transportation had been in charge of response in the past. Now, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency is in charge.

In 2011, Deal said, “I think we all have been tested in this crisis and that we learned some things. The real test is, can we take what we’ve learned and make sure the next time we are presented with anything close to that that the results are better?”

Chris Huttman January 29, 2014 at 10:34 am

By Deal’s own standard from back then, I would say resounding failure on his part.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 10:39 am

I think we are glossing over what a hugely busted forecast this was. Right up until yesterday morning, most forecasters were saying the bad weather was going to be south of here. The winter storm warning for the north metro wasn’t issued until 4 hours before the start of the event. We base a lot on forecasts, and sometimes they bust. I am a big weather nut…I love being an amateur forecaster (dont show much of that here as it isnt relevant…unless its hurricane season maybe), but even Kirk Mellish said his forecast was low confidence. I will also say, I was warning you guys a full day before in the morning reads…
Bottom line is there were mistakes all over…we shouldn’t go blaming. Mayor Reed has already acknowledged his mistake of allowing everyone on the roads at the same time.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

Meteorologist and politician the only jobs where can be consistently wrong and keep your job.

griftdrift January 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

It was an extremely difficult forecast. And that should have been said. And it should have been emphasized that these events have a high variability and people should err on the side of caution.

I understand why the forecasters have their backs up right now. But this is a call for everyone to examine their methods. Forecasters included.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 10:51 am

Average people just listen to their local weather guy/gal. They get their info from the NWS or private companies like Accuweather…both are usually really good. Snow is always a tough call here because of topography. The real bust though was in AL. Tuscaloosa got snow and nothing was forecast anywhere near there or Birmingham for that matter…
I was shocked that schools were not closed since the Winter Storm Warning was issued prior to school starting. That should have been preventable…stranding school children

Michael Silver January 29, 2014 at 10:57 am

Charlie hit the problem 110% correct. Core problem was the forecast didn’t trigger any warning bells. When the powers in charge of schools and businesses realized we were in trouble, it was already too late.

The government can help the situation right now by banning semis coming into Georgia and ask that everyone in a safe location stay in place so the people trapped on the roads can get home. The focus needs to be on getting the people trapped to safe locations. The roads will be passable for a short period of time before they re-ice. We have a small window to evacuate people.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 11:03 am

Yes, and hopefully we will be above freezing for a couple of hours today!

Dave Bearse January 29, 2014 at 11:23 am

Another take is the powers gambled that with only an inch forecast for metro Atlanta that they could get the whole day in, and the bet didn’t pay.

Bill Dawers January 29, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Just fyi, as I just noted on an earlier thread: As of 4:11 a.m. Tuesday morning, much of the Atlanta metro area was under a Winter Storm Warning to take effect at 9 a.m. See: http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&issuedby=FFC&product=AFD&format=CI&version=14&glossary=1.

By my count it looks like, as of the 4 a.m. Tuesday NWS forecast, 75 counties through the middle of the state were under a warning to go into effect between 9 and 11 a.m. Several others were under advisories.

That should have been plenty of time for schools and other entities to make the call.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 10:42 am

Shorter Kasim Reed, this is not an excuse but here’s our excuse.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 10:52 am

…especially after he made such a big deal about learning lessons after 2011

bildanielson January 29, 2014 at 10:50 am

PP, you note: “It’s easy to call for someone’s head. After all, when there’s trouble “someone should do something”. But we know how this works. We listened to the early forecasts that said metro Atlanta would get little to no snow, then “some accumulation”, that only became a Winter Storm Warning after most had in their minds Tuesday would be normal, but maybe with an early exit.”

Problem with that sort of excuse-making is the NWS issued a Winter Storm warning before 4 am yesterday-long before the Peach Pundit arose. The warning called for inches of snow, with amounts variable depending on the storm track (we could have received significantly more), thus providing ample time to launch the limited fleet of salt trucks, and close the schools.

Of course not all of the issues we have witnessed would have been alleviated, but a great deal of the chaos and mayhem could have been mitigated. Neither of those reasonable and responsible actions were taken. In short, the warning was not responsibly heeded. Moreover, PP makes no mention of the 2011 debacle (which I have only recently become aware of as a newby to GA) from which the political machine here most certainly should have learned…

There was clearly a four to six hour window of time from 4 am Tuesday when the NWS upgraded their forecast to a Winter Storm Warning until 9 or 10 am Tuesday to launch into action, pre-treat the freeways as much as possible, and have had schools closed for the day. Anyone who thinks closing the schools would have been an inconvenience needs to spend 12 hours in their car stuck on I285 with a dwindling gasoline supply in temps hovering in the mid teens…

In my view there is certainly an explanation here, but there is no excuse for this mess particularly given the recent history of 2011. The local governmental entities had forewarning and did not act, and the result of their inaction resulted in incredible damage, inconvenience, and some life threatening situations. This is known as negligence, bordering on gross negligence.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 10:56 am

yes…schools should have NEVER been open yesterday

griftdrift January 29, 2014 at 11:21 am

Schools should have closed. I don’t think anyone disagrees. Nothing they could do about the private businesses. Who I seriously doubt caught the 4:00am upgrade to warning. My office didn’t decide to close until noon and then closed at 2:00.

Rich January 29, 2014 at 4:25 pm

There was just a CBS Atlanta interview with a very tired Mayor Reid complaining of being awake at 2 am answering the same questions. Again he kept reiterating that compared to 2011 we were ahead in preparedness. A weak argument. Different storm. Different circumstances.

However it occurred to me that the mayor, the governor, whomever, may have been over confident that with the new equipment we were prepared to tackle anything. Being overconfident isn’t an excuse, however offers a more plausible (to me) explanation of why no one took the threat more seriously. I prefer to believe that than it was a calculated gamble to save money.

“One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” – To Kill a Mockingbird

bildanielson January 29, 2014 at 6:12 pm

So, here’s 1/27/2014 48 precip model .. http://www.drroyspencer.com/wp-content/uploads/nam_cum_snow.gif

And the only reason I point this out is that it appears there was an issue with marshalling “assets” relative to both the existence of a warning status, and the projected snowfall locations. It seems to me that they did not take the upgrade to warning serious enough. The Atlanta metro needs to take priority when push comes to shove. The financial stakes, let alone the sheer number of people involved dictates erroring on the side of the metro.. It’s pretty clear to me they simply screwed this up and don’t want to simply acknowledge it fully. I’m sorry, but the warning AND this projection were out there well enough in advance to have made a difference.

bildanielson January 29, 2014 at 6:20 pm

Sorry, I tried to get the html to cooperate above, but alas it appears there are liimitations.. Here’s the direct link to Spencer’s page.

http://www.drroyspencer.com/2014/01/se-u-s-snowstorm-update/

sg1020 January 29, 2014 at 10:52 am

The people who just ignored when traffic lights changed and clogged up all the intersections so cross streets couldn’t move, were a huge problem. That made it difficult for anything to move at all. There was no patience, but a whole lot of people honking horns if someone got in front of them. No one wanted to let anyone out or let anyone merge.

If schools had been announced they were not going to be in for the day, people would have complained because they had to make arrangements for care.

The blame game gets really old. This is not about politics. It’s about personal responsibility. Take some. If you felt there were unsafe conditions, you should have stayed home and kept your children at home. They have been predicting this for several days. This is the south, you never know what the weather is really going to do and you should be prepared for anything.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 11:00 am

That happens all the time…gridlock is always a problem here.

Salmo January 29, 2014 at 10:57 am

There are many reasons to hope this gets cleared up quickly. There’s a silver lining if it doesn’t, though. Debbie Dooley was Paul Broun’s guest at the SOTU last night. The longer it takes to get Atlanta operating again, the longer the state of Georgia will be Debbie-less.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 10:59 am

I’m happier being Brounless, personally…but then again, it would be better to have him stuck here and NOT in DC.

gt7348b January 29, 2014 at 10:59 am

Let’s not forget that one system continues to run now and ran in 2011 – MARTA rail. It’s the reason I have to work today. They run the trains 24-7 during events like this to prevent ice build up on the tracks meaning the drivers, maintenance folks, etc are all at work and usually stuck at the rail yards and other locations around the system.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 11:01 am

Yes, people do forget that MARTA rail runs, even in the snow.

Charlie January 29, 2014 at 11:03 am

…and let’s not make the charges of political opportunism be exclusively a partisan endeavor:

Nathan Deal Failed Miserably Once Again

DALTON, GA – Dalton Mayor and Conservative Republican Candidate for Governor David Pennington highlighted the major difference between Nathan Deal’s failed leadership and his proven leadership, in regards to yesterday’s storm, with the following statement:

“Government’s primary role is to protect the people; Nathan Deal has failed miserably once again. Although the city of Dalton was supposed to be north of the “expected” storm – for the sake of the well being of our residents, we started pre-treating our roads at 6AM yesterday.”

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 11:05 am

Now Charlie, you knew that was coming…

Salmo January 29, 2014 at 11:20 am

Clearly David Pennington is the candidate of increased spending on infrastructure and preparation for twice-a-decade storm events.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 11:23 am

cant believe I didnt say that first…damn!

Noway January 29, 2014 at 11:41 am

But By-God if Mayor Pennington had been the guvnah this would not have happened, huh? What a cheap-shot political D**khead!

Chris Huttman January 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Yeah because when your opponent presides over a complete failure, you should just stay quiet about it until they can clean it up. The Republican way!*

* – Not.

Noway January 29, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Funny, Chris that when Mayor Ray Naygen(?) of New Orleans presides over Katrina and leaves rows and rows of school buses idle that could have helped move the folks, we don’t hear a peep out of you libs and suddenly it’s Bush’s fault?!

BTW, i don’t support Deal, I just despise political opportunists like Pennington who could have done nothing really any differently.

I wonder how Naygen is enjoying prison?

griftdrift January 29, 2014 at 3:26 pm

It’s Nagin. And the buses would not have helped since there was no egress from the city ( except for Gretna, want to talk about what happened there again? ) and no place to house the people if they did.

I wondered how long until someone said “Katrina!”.

Guess it was 24 hours.

Noway January 29, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Well, that lack of “egress” didn’t stop Nagin from whining to get Greyhound-style more luxurious buses to help “egress” the people out. He had dozens if not hundreds of school buses but they apparently weren’t to his liking!!

Noway January 29, 2014 at 3:33 pm

I also wondered when a Katrina type comparison would be used. I just figured it would be a Lib and not Pennington, who would whine that Deal didn’t do enough. Use your crystal ball much, Mayor?

Noway January 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Hey Grift, didn’t many of them “egress” themselves from the city over to the Astrodome? ….”Uhhhh, Oh Yeah”….LOL! Wonder how they got there?

gcp January 29, 2014 at 11:07 am

I am normally critical of WSB radio but not this time. They are the only AM station doing full-time coverage and they have done an excellent job. Reminds me of the old WSB.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 11:19 am

WOW…headline on CNN website not SOTU but about ATL snow…and its not a pretty headline either

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 11:22 am

Charlie…you need to see about embedding Carol Costello’s interview with Mayor Reed…wow
http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/weather/2014/01/29/nr-atlanta-traffic-mayor-kasim-reed.cnn.html

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 11:23 am

A Georgia DOT spokesperson (Karlene Barron) just said they pretreated 285. I drove on 285 yesterday morning around 9 am and again at 1030, unless they treated between 10:30 and 12 I can say definitively I saw no evidence of any treatment on 285 between New Northside and Paces Ferry. There needs to be a serious investigation about what really happened.

Dave Bearse January 29, 2014 at 11:32 am

At this point in time it’s post-treatment.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 11:36 am

Yes but I think the state dot screwed up and they know it, now it’s time for a good old fashioned coverup.

Harry January 29, 2014 at 11:40 am

The COO or assistant COO of Atlanta is Hans Utz, a putz. Utz was in charge of the Braves negotiations and is probably responsible for the Braves relocating. Last night on channel 11 he stated that stuck motorists should call 911. Also made the statement that it’s not Atlanta’s problem, but rather a “regional” problem. Very arrogant and unsympathetic. Reed needs to resign him.

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 11:43 am

Fyi…I live just up the street from where the DOT stores all their sand/salt…and there was very little activity there yesterday morning or the night before…usually it would be buzzing with activity before a snow/ice event

Scott65 January 29, 2014 at 11:51 am

Here is a fun fact…every state in the US has at least some snow…except Missouri of all places…lol

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Shorter Nathan Deal, don’t blame me blame the National Weather Service.

Will Durant January 29, 2014 at 12:15 pm

There will be millions of Monday Morning Quarterbacks so I may as well join the throng, but first and foremost people must realize that the terrain and roadway design for the Metro Atlanta area are not conducive for icing events like this. They just don’t occur frequently enough to require the infrastructure needed in Northern cities.

Those blaming Atlanta drivers should note that the majority of the most cumbersome interstate blockages have been caused by big trucks who theoretically should be accustomed to these types of conditions. Not even an expert driver however can control a slide merely caused by banked turns or even the crown of the road when it is iced over. In the future with icing possibilities perhaps the 18 wheelers should be diverted or detained until the roads have been treated and cleared.

Weather predictions that really only started at about 8:00-9:00AM yesterday morning should have been monitored more closely by office managers and their ilk and the Exodus should have started sooner.

TV reporters suck.

GDOT spokespersons suck.

Weather like this sucks, but the last time there really was a Snowjam like this was 1982. Do we really need to pillage and burn for such rare events?

Michael Silver January 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm

If others are trying to get to Cobb, my wife was able to cross from Fulton into Cobb on Johnson Ferry. Its passable for the time being. Use Low Gear and you’ll get it done.

xdog January 29, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Telecommute. Car pool. Ride Marta.

Spencer Hall’s take is pretty good. http://www.everydayshouldbesaturday.com/2014/1/29/5357246/heres-how-hothlanta-happened-again

Dr. Monica Henson January 29, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Everything Charlie said.

SmyrnaModerate January 29, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I generally agree with the sentiment that people seemed to only pay attention to the early forecast that the snow would generally be further south and ignored the updated Tuesday morning forecast that showed the storm would now be hitting most of metro and also coming earlier.

I do know that most federal govt offices closed yesterday at 11 and CDC closed at noon. Gov Deal said at his press conference that state employees were told at 10 that they could leave. If that kind of information had been more widely disseminated in the media I think at the very least schools would have closed earlier or at least announced earlier they were closing which could have helped with the problem of everyone hit the roads at the same time.

I was taken aback when the GEMA director said the state emergency operations center wasn’t fully operational at 4pm because the “roads weren’t bad yet.” I think the governor left skid marks getting back to the podium to say what nonsense that was.

griftdrift January 29, 2014 at 1:10 pm

No kidding. THAT was the story. But I think most of the media missed it because they were focused on talking about 2011 and the “apology”.

I’ve been giving the leadership slack to this point because I don’t think anyone expected a Walking Dead traffic jam. But if the GEMA center wasn’t fully activated until 4:00pm, we’ve got a BIG problem.

Bill Dawers January 29, 2014 at 5:19 pm

I just checked out GEMA’s website and twitter feed. There’s pretty much no information of substance in either place.

Jon Richards January 29, 2014 at 1:20 pm

One more point to consider before we fully condemn GDOT. With most storms, the biggest threat is typically north of I-20. As DOT Commissioner Keith Golden points out, the normal Atlanta storm plan involves bringing in equipment from South and Middle Georgia to help sand/salt roads in the north. Because of the expected track of the storm — as late as Monday night — that equipment stayed in South Georgia. As a result, GDOT could not do as much as it might have in preparing the roads.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Half the state’s population lives in the metro-area so have the states road clearing resources should be based here.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 2:08 pm

have=half

sloppy typing plus autocorrect

Ellynn January 29, 2014 at 8:24 pm

I have to say am happy that the 30 trucks the GOT has in the Southeast district (thats 27 counties) stayed right here to take care of about 20 major emergany routes into the lonly level one trama in the area and the interstates. I was ‘water’ locked all day since the major bridges onto the islands are shut down due to ice, except for one emergancy route – which has a sand spreader posted at it base.

Harry January 29, 2014 at 1:45 pm
DavidTC January 29, 2014 at 2:14 pm

I think there is something that is mostly being overlooked here. Ignore for a second the warnings we had Tuesday morning, and how everyone basically ignored them. Let’s not put all the blame here on the weather, or on failure to act beforehand.

All that meant was that everyone tried to leave the city yesterday afternoon on somewhat icy roads.

That *should* have been possible. It was basically just rush hour a few hours early. Starting at around 2, the ice should have added an extra hour or two to the commute, and by 5 o’clock (aka, before dark) this all should have been over.

That, obviously, is not what happened. Minor problems ballooned into giant backups, which we’ve seen before, but usually only one or two. This time, we got dozens of minor problems, and thus *dozens* of giant backups. Which spilled over causing more minor problems, which blew up other roads.

Atlanta traffic is *horrible*. It is forever tethering right on the edge of disaster, and thus the slightest interruption in traffic patterns can *blow up the entire region* to the point that it is *the next day* and traffic is still screwed.

As has been pointed out, what if some sort of disaster hit Atlanta in the middle of a workday? We can’t even remove the people who *don’t* live there in a timely manner.

DavidTC January 29, 2014 at 2:43 pm

And before anyone asks, no, I have no idea how to fix it.

Adding mass transit would seem to be a good idea. Possibly a football-field sized catapult to hurtle people northward. (We can aim it at Lake Lanier.)

Likewise, some *other* routes for trucks to take that does not involve 285 would be a clever idea.

Or we could use an amazing new invention I’ve heard of all called ‘trains’ (sp? Maybe ‘tranes’?) to move things. There used to be a place in Georgia named ‘Terminus’ where they had trains, although maybe that’s one of those myths like El Dorado. If we can find this ‘Terminus’, we could probably figure out a way to ship things on these ‘trains’ instead of driving them across the entire state and straight through what is now *inside* a metropolitan area. (285 is *not* ‘outside Atlanta’ any more.)

Or, here’s a idea, instead of everyone working in Atlanta, and living 60 miles north, perhaps people could live and work in places that are reasonably close to each other. But that would be sheer lunacy, I know. I mean, I’m sure people commute the same distance in New York City, working in Manhattan and commuting there from…uh…Pennsylvania? Through New Jersey. All while other people drive the opposite direction. That seems like something non-crazy people would do, right?

Of course, any of this would probably require some sort of ‘government planning’, but we don’t take too kindly to that around here…we prefer HIKING A MILE IN THE SNOW TO CRASH AT STRANGER’S HOUSES BECAUSE ATLANTA TRAFFIC DOESN’T WORK AT ALL. (At least, that is what I am forced to assume.)

South Fulton Guy January 29, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Reflections on Atlanta Snow Storm 2014 http://youtu.be/Qfpio6Uyk6Y

Harry January 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Here’s one more idea to fix it. The annual inspection process is a joke. In addition to fuel efficiency, the inspection should include tires, brakes and batteries. There are too many cars on the road with bald tires.

saltycracker January 29, 2014 at 5:10 pm

So please read the GDOT winter weather preparedness fact sheet
Note the commitment of resources and plans purchased by your tax dollar

Now for those of us that would accept the role of personal responsibility, poor forecasting and that s@#t weather happens……..then justify the millions and millions of public monies spent or cut back.

Max Power January 29, 2014 at 5:35 pm

At 3:05 yesterday when many folks had been stuck in traffic for hours Gov. Deal was honoring Kasim Reed at the Georgia Trend Georgian of the Year Ceremony. Or at least that’s what he tweeted.

https://twitter.com/GovernorDeal/status/428257618738434049