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Atlanta Gambled With Winter Storm and Lost 723

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kim Severson reports at the NYT that by keeping schools and government offices open, and by not requiring tractor-trailers to use chains or stay out of the city's core, metropolitan Atlanta gambled and lost. "We don't want to be accused of crying wolf," said Gov. Nathan Deal, who pointed out that the storm had been forecast to just brush the south side of the city. If the city had been closed and the storm had been as light as some forecasters had told him it was going to be, he said, money would have been lost, and people would have complained. Tuesday's snowfall, that brought only 2-3 inches of snow to most of the Atlanta metro area, and the hundreds of thousands of motorists who flooded the metropolitan area's roadways as the storm moved in — created travel nightmares for commuters, truckers, students and their families. Some commuters were stuck in their vehicles up to 18 hours after they first hit the roads. Others abandoned their cars in or beside the road. Hundreds of students spent the night at school. Some surrounding cities, including Hiram, Woodstock, Sandy Springs and Acworth, opened emergency shelters for stranded motorists. "It's an easy joke made by Northerners," wrote Joe Sterling and Sarah Aarthun. "A dusting of snow shuts down an entire city and hapless drivers white-knuckle their way through a handful of flurries." Further North streets are salted well in advance of a coming storm but Atlanta doesn't have the capacity for that kind of treatment. "We simply have never purchased the amount of equipment necessary," said meteorologist Chad Myers adding Atlanta had plenty of warning. "Why would you in a city that gets one snow event every three years? Why would you buy 500 snowplows and salt trucks and have them sit around for 1,000 days, waiting for the next event?""
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Atlanta Gambled With Winter Storm and Lost

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  • by Big Hairy Ian ( 1155547 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:50AM (#46109111)
    You should try over here in the UK where the mere suggestion of snow seems to shut everything down
    • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:58AM (#46109169) Homepage Journal
      That's what they SHOULD have done. You may not be prepared for your one snow event every three years, but if you're not, you fucking shut your city down when the forecast calls for 2 inches! If that costs more than keeping that fleet of 500 vehicles and stockpile of magnesium chloride on hand, then maybe you should be better prepared the next time it happens!
      • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Informative)

        by Megane ( 129182 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:20AM (#46109415) Homepage

        you fucking shut your city down when the forecast calls for 2 inches

        "We don't want to be accused of crying wolf," said Gov. Nathan Deal, who pointed out that the storm had been forecast to just brush the south side of the city.

        That was part of the problem. The forecast didn't call for 2 inches, it predicted that the ice/snow would miss Atlanta, though not by much.

        • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Insightful)

          by bunratty ( 545641 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:41AM (#46109731)
          Surely they knew there was a significant probability for the snow to hit Atlanta. You don't have to make 100% accurate predictions to be able to prepare for the future. That's why weather forecasts give a probability of precipitation, rather than a binary rain/no rain prediction. If you know rain is likely, you can carry your umbrella just in case. The attitude should not be "You need to prove something bad will happen before I prepare for it," but rather "Let me know if something bad might happen so I can prepare for it."
          • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Interesting)

            by demonlapin ( 527802 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:50AM (#46109857) Homepage Journal
            Shutting the city down isn't free. Parents have to leave work to get home to children. What do you do when that parent is an ER nurse? Businesses have to close, city workers will cause traffic jams on the way home... and if nothing happens, everyone starts talking about how much money and time was wasted for nothing. You can't win.
            • If nothing happened we would not be talking about it. But something did happen and now it's major headlines across the world. "Cry wolf" and no one will remember the day off next month, but say nothing and they will never forget sitting in their freezing car for 18 hours straight.
            • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

              What do you do when that parent is an ER nurse?

              The same as when the city shuts down for a hurricane, duh.

              Businesses have to close, city workers will cause traffic jams on the way home

              Which is exactly what happened. If schools and government were closed and businesses encouraged to stay closed and people to stay home, this mess never would have happened. Atlanta knew the snow was coming at 4:AM (the National Weather Service is pissed off about the Atlanta Mayor's lies to the public) and should have taken act

              • The mess in Atlanta was caused by incompetence and political cowardice.

                I'm not inclined to disagree with you on Atlanta's governance, but 4 AM is pretty late to sound the call to shut down a city. I go to work at 6:15 and don't listen to the news before I'm in the car. Realistically, you can cancel things the night before - or not at all. The uncertainty regarding this storm was enormous. Hurricanes give you time to do things - much more than eight hours.

          • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Informative)

            by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:21PM (#46111035)

            You don't have to make 100% accurate predictions to be able to prepare for the future. That's why weather forecasts give a probability of precipitation, rather than a binary rain/no rain prediction. If you know rain is likely, you can carry your umbrella just in case. The attitude should not be "You need to prove something bad will happen before I prepare for it," but rather "Let me know if something bad might happen so I can prepare for it."

            While you're right, I also think there is a more specific problem here. People are bad at making estimates based on probabilities -- "70% chance of rain? 30% chance of snow? Should I take action?"

            The thing is -- the National Weather Service tries its best to keep the guesswork out of major weather events by issuing watches, advisories, and warnings. When a winter storm WARNING is issued, it means that there's a general consensus that this thing WILL occur and you should behave as if it will.

            In this case, the NWS issued a winter storm warning at 3:38am on the day of the event, roughly 9 hours before snow started falling in Atlanta. Here's the official meaning of a winter storm watch and warning as put out by NWS in Atlanta:

            Watch: Issued when the potential exists for 2 inches or more of snow in 12 hours, or 4 inches or more of snow in 24 hours. Also issued for potential of a quarter inch or more of freezing rain, or half an inch of sleet. In the North Georgia Mountains, the criteria are 3 inches in 12 hours or 4 inches in 24 hours.

            Warning: Issued when a combination of snow, blowing snow, sleet, and/or freezing rain is likely to exceed warning criteria. Warning criteria are those detailed in the Winter Storm Watch.

            In other words, a "warning" means it's pretty darn likely the thing is coming. Having lived in the northern U.S. for many years, I can think of a few times that a "warning" didn't really pan out, but not very many. A "watch" (or an "advisory," which is an intermediate level of sorts) is one thing, and can sometimes be wrong. A "warning" is meant to convey reasonable certainty that a major weather event will happen.

            So, the average citizen doesn't need to necessarily concern himself/herself with probabilities -- these weather bulletins already contain significant information about how likely things are to happen.

            Most people probably don't pay attention to these weather distinctions -- they just think "oh, there's some sort of weather alert." But they generally have very precise meanings.

            For the general population to be ignorant of these meanings is perhaps expected. That's why governments and school officials need to understand these things and make reasonable calls -- but it appears they did not seem to know what "warning" meant in this case.

            That's the disturbing thing. The NWS had stuff out saying there would be "dangerous" road conditions and that travel was not recommended well in advance of the snow.

            • In other words, a "warning" means it's pretty darn likely the thing is coming. Having lived in the northern U.S. for many years, I can think of a few times that a "warning" didn't really pan out, but not very many.

              I use to live in the north, now I live in the south. It's different here.

              I can't speak to this specific warning, but meteorologists in the south have a comically difficult time forecasting winter precipitation type. Up north, if it's winter and there's probable precip, it's going to be snow. In the south, our winter temperatures typically hover between 30-35 degrees, so even if precip is highly probable, it's really, really difficult to forecast if it's going to be snow, ice, or rain because very small chan

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Wookact ( 2804191 )
          That is not true either. The NOAA released a warning at 3 am saying it was going to hit Atlanta. The snow did not hit until noonish. The city either knew or should have know they should prepare the plows and salt trucks and start pretreating the roads. They then could have eased much of the burden by canceling school and having government workers stay home.
        • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Informative)

          by c0d3g33k ( 102699 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:07AM (#46110081)

          you fucking shut your city down when the forecast calls for 2 inches

          "We don't want to be accused of crying wolf," said Gov. Nathan Deal, who pointed out that the storm had been forecast to just brush the south side of the city.

          That was part of the problem. The forecast didn't call for 2 inches, it predicted that the ice/snow would miss Atlanta, though not by much.

          Not true. *Early* forecasts suggested that, but subsequent updates by the National Weather Service *did* call for several inches of snow, and *did* include metro Atlanta in the impacted area, well in advance of the actual storm (by early Monday morning). There was plenty of time to prepare, had officials been paying more attention to the forecasts and less to the political impact of "crying wolf".

          From The Weather Channel [weather.com] (emphasis mine):

          Sunday 3:12 p.m.

                  First winter storm watch issued for Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon.
                  Includes south metro Atlanta counties Fayette, Coweta, Clayton, Henry, Rockdale into central Georgia.
                  Impacts: Snow accumulations of two or more inches. Sleet accumulations of a half inch or more.

          Monday 4:54 a.m.

                  Winter storm watch now includes much of north and south metro Atlanta for Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon.
                  Impacts: Snow accumulations of 1/2 to 2 inches. Snow-covered roads could make travel difficult.

          Monday 3:22 p.m.

                  Winter storm watch upgraded to a winter storm warning for south metro Atlanta into central Georgia. Winter storm watch remains posted for north metro Atlanta for Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon.
                  Impacts: Snow accumulations of 1 to 2 inches with locally higher amounts. Sleet accumulations around a half inch. Snow and ice covered roads will make travel difficult or impossible.

          Monday 9:36 p.m.

                  Winter storm watch changed to a winter weather advisory for north metro Atlanta for Tuesday morning through Wednesday morning.
                  National weather service notes: Please understand that even a slight shift in the moisture could result in significant differences in snow amounts and may require an upgrade to warning.

          Tuesday 3:38 a.m.

                  All metro Atlanta under a winter storm warning starting 9 a.m. Tuesday
                  Impacts: 1 to 2 inches of snow. Snow expected to begin mid-morning and last into Tuesday night. Snow-covered roads will make for hazardous driving conditions through Wednesday morning.

        • by div_2n ( 525075 )

          That's not quite right. Fully 8 hours in advance of the storm hitting (i.e. before everyone started their morning commute), a very direct and confident warning went out that Atlanta was going to get hit. Al Roker did a timeline of the warnings and there's just no way you can watch that and not conclude that the authorities were asleep at the wheel.

      • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The Mighty Buzzard ( 878441 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:25AM (#46109475)

        Why? 2-3 inches here and the only things we do different are leave earlier and drive slower. No chains. No pre-salting the roads. Just slow the fuck down until the roads get plowed or melt.

        • You're forgetting the ice. It wasn't so much the snow but the wonderfully slippery layer of ice which coated everything. Since traffic was blocking the roads, the limited number of trucks couldn't lay down salt or sand. Thus, every road, including the highways, were coated in ice and unable to be treated because the trucks themselves were stuck in the traffic jams.

          I am from up north and while I laugh at the idea of 2 inches of snow affecting anything (we've had that amount and more in the last two weeks),

        • It was really 2-3 inches of snow, slush, and re-freeze. Snow is easy to drive in. Slush and ice make travel difficult. Even people up north forget how to accelerate in the snow every year; imagine an entire city of snow newbies and all the truckers who might remain exclusive to southern states.
        • by Valdrax ( 32670 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:22PM (#46111061)

          Why? 2-3 inches here and the only things we do different are leave earlier and drive slower. No chains. No pre-salting the roads. Just slow the fuck down until the roads get plowed or melt.

          The problem was twofold: every single business and government agency let their people go home at the exact same time (roughly 12:30-1:00 PM). Even in good weather, this would have caused an hours long snarl in the city, but when you have masses of people struck with the sudden realization that if they don't leave now they may not be able to get up/down their driveways, then yeah, you get a complete traffic clusterf--k.

          The second problem was that we weren't dealing with whatever dainty light fairy powder you Northerners deal with in which you think a snowplow would help. We were dealing with sleet and slush. "Wintry mix," you hear it called on weather stations. By the time sundown hit, most of the roads were covered in a solid, eighth-inch think sheet of ice except for those parts kept warm and shielded by the constant gridlock over them.

          I know, because I was in it for 13 1/2 hours to only go 8.5 miles. There was no "drive slower" option for any of us on my route home, and I never passed a single accident on the way. We moved a car length every 2-3 minutes, and having to restart going uphill after dark meant that some people we sliding, because you need freaking *momentum* to drive uphill on ice. People were running out of gas and having to abandon cars. A lot of people were camping out in cars in parking lots or sheltering at stores that stayed open, like Home Depot.

          I have a roommate who had to walk home the next day, and his time revealed that I could have walked home, walked back to work, and walked home again with a half hour break in between each leg and still beaten myself home.

          So don't freaking patronize us. There's stuff that could have been done better in terms of planning by the city and in terms of more people keeping an eye on the weather (the midday snow took everyone at our office by surprise), but it wasn't a matter of just driving better. There was literally *nothing* many of us could have done from that angle. 99% of the people I saw drove sensibly. (Well, more like self-entitled jackasses who wouldn't spit on a man if he was on fire because it might make them thirsty, the way they refused let people over or tried to skip ahead using the middle lanes, but generally safely.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by VVelox ( 819695 )

        Shutdown for 2 or 3 inches of snow? From a Chicago perspective the idea of even rolling plows for that is considered a bit laughable.

        • Shutdown for 2 or 3 inches of snow? From a Chicago perspective the idea of even rolling plows for that is considered a bit laughable.

          Being from St Louis, Missouri - I have to agree. I have Z-chains if I need them because I have a RWD pickup with a big engine and it sucks in the snow even with M+S tires, but this past snow of 12" with -15F temperatures was the first time I have had to put them on in a couple years. I remember being in Florida one year when it snowed maybe 1", and there were tons of wrecks from that. People don't have M+S tires down there, and aside from the snowbirds they don't know how to drive in it. That definitely co

        • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Informative)

          by TWiTfan ( 2887093 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:43AM (#46109759)

          The problem in Atlanta isn't just the snow. It was the fact that they let everyone out to go home all at once. Ever been in rush hour traffic in Atlanta? Even without snow and ice, it's a fucking nightmare. That city has some of the worst rush hour traffic I've ever seen, even compared to L.A. Add to that icy/snowy roads that haven't seen even a hint of salt, a generally incompetent/corrupt city government, etc. and you can understand why it turned into a disaster.

          • The city government was not the problem. Most people made it out of Atlanta because salting tucks were on the streets. Its the interstates and local roads in gwinnett and cobb county that were backed up. That is the responsibility of the state government not the city of Atlanta.
      • Re:Pffft (Score:5, Insightful)

        by njnnja ( 2833511 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:05AM (#46110055)

        Exactly. maybe every three years is too infrequent to have 500 snowplows ready, but that's a false dichotomy [wikipedia.org]. The choice isn't between having 500 snowplows and turning into a disaster move every 3 years; surely there is a middle ground where you have an action plan that takes into effect when snow *might* hit the area (e.g. position resources so they can react quickly, and get you DPW personnel in their trucks and pay them overtime), and an action plan that goes into effect once the snow starts falling (do schools shut down? send kids home? shelter in place? What about police? Firefighters? What do you ask private business to do? And most importantly, what's the plan with the DPW?). Proper planning and intelligent deployment of resources is cheap (relatively speaking) but requires local authorities to think about more than just, "how do I get my brother in law a six figure do-nothing job" or "How do I accept that cheap mortgage as a gift without running afoul of bribery and corruption laws." But to claim that this is to be expected in a first world nation every 1000 days because you don't want to staff up like they do in the northeast is irresponsible

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        Nailed it you did.

        Now I am a boston driver accustomed to snow. Plows and salt are not out yet? Fine whatever, I will drive without white knuckles in 2 inches of snow and enjoy it. It really isn't that bad if you are used to it. Oh no the car slid a little....big deal. Get used to it, its even fun if you aren't an idiot.

        However, if they close the city down once every 3 years that would be.... well shit, we are used to snow and don't shut down for much less than 6-12 inches...and we shut down several times a

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I was in England a decade or two back for reasons.

      We were in London, and there was a day of freezing rain. Nobody cared. The next day, there was snow. Not even a millimeter. A dusting. The city literally shut down.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:51AM (#46109123)

    Let's just say that the city has a long history of not dealing with snow well, and leave it at that.

    • by judoguy ( 534886 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:43AM (#46109765) Homepage

      I lived in Atlanta for 8 years and now in Minneapolis for 23. Believe me, Atlanta and the other Southern cities I grew up in are much harder to drive in with a winter event of any size.

      Here in Minneapolis, each and every year, the first 2" snow and everyone acts like they've never seen the shit before. Unbelievable commute tie ups and panic reigns. I was surprised at how much easier it was to get around in the winter when I first got here. Not because the drivers are better, but because of how dry it is in the winter. In the South, winter means wet ice. Driving on -10F snow is much easier.

      • by unimacs ( 597299 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:28AM (#46110325)
        hmmm. I've lived in the Minneapolis area for close to 50 years and I'm tempted to call BS on this one, - at least partly. The first snowfall of the year does lead to more spinouts and traffic delays than usual because at least some people have forgotten how to drive in that kind of weather.

        But "panic reigns"?

        Uh no

        If you lived in Minneapolis proper you'd know that in residential areas (outside of snow emergency routes) you may not even see a plow for that small amount of snow. Most streets within a mile of our house have had layers of compacted snow and ice on them for weeks. Yes it is dryer here on the whole but we get plenty of days with precip when the temp is hovering around freezing. It is quite common to go from rain, to freezing rain, then to snow and have the whole mess freeze over.

        My guess is that a big reason you find it easier to get here around in winter is that the other drivers know what they are doing. But the other reason is that city has the equipment and know how to deal with snow and ice.
  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:52AM (#46109129)
    ...about this topic. They do cite that the National Weather Service had only issued a winter weather advisory for the area, not a watch or a warning, until 3:30am the day that all hell broke loose. Apparently local meteorologists disagreed with the NWS, but without their formal statements I'm not exactly surprised that public officials and employees didn't feel comfortable making statements.

    Unfortunate situation all of the way around. What I don't get is why it took so incredibly long to resolve. It's almost like the city's traffic engineers were asleep and couldn't figure out where to start clearing first in order to unclog the logjam...
  • Snow happens! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by beltsbear ( 2489652 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:54AM (#46109139)

    Stuff like this is just going to happen. It is pointless to buy all of the equipment needed to fight snow for Atlanta as it won't pay off. The city had to make a call and they used their best available data. They were wrong. If they err on the other side and are constantly making the more conservative call money will also be lost.

    Schools, churches and even the Home Depot acted as overnight shelters for people who were stuck. The only thing they could really have done is had a traffic team (cops and tow trucks) that understands traffic better and unsnarled key positions and TRIED to keep vehicles moving. Not easy.

  • Well it would take some 10 inch of snow or some serious freezing rain / ice to deter canucks from driving. This being said, it also has to be mentioned that winter tires are mandatory in some provinces. And since the white season can take up to 6 months, not only are people experienced with driving in such conditions, but they are also choosing their vehicles according to their winter driving experience and skills.
    • Being a Canadian, I feel I should weigh in on this topic.

      When you say that Canadians will drive in much worse conditions, that's only partially true. In the winter, we have salt trucks and snow plows going (seemingly) constantly. So, the 2-3 inches of snow dumped on Atlanta would have been cleared simply because we're prepared for that kind of snow. Also, Canadians are well experienced in dealing with snowy roads so we would have faired better for that reason too.

      Don't be so hard on Atlanta, this i
    • by NoImNotNineVolt ( 832851 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:24AM (#46109463) Homepage
      I'm currently down in Georgia on work-related travel. I'm in Columbus, but (hopefully) will by flying out of Atlanta later today. I've been here all week. I live in New Jersey.

      Yesterday morning, I experienced perhaps the most dangerous driving conditions I've ever seen, and I've lived in Maine. What most people don't understand is that places that handle this type of weather regularly are prepared for it. I've been told that there are eight salt-spreading trucks in Georgia. Eight, for the entire state. How the fuck were they supposed to prepare? Purchase more snow management equipment on short notice? Maintain a large fleet of trucks for the rare occasions that stuff like this happens?

      When I was driving in to work yesterday, the roads were nearly deserted. The few cars that were on the road were flying all over the place. While it's possible to drive [relatively] safely in such conditions, it's a skill that I don't expect Georgians to have. This just doesn't happen that often down here.

      The roads were entirely covered in a solid sheet of ice. Ice, with no road salt, no gravel, no sand. If you live in an area that regularly receives some snowfall, you've never driven on anything quite like this, because you've got snow crews prepping roads before the snowfall, plowing for the duration of the snowfall, and then conditioning the road surfaces after the snowfall. Georgia has none of that. After having experienced this shit for myself, as a "yankee", all I can say is that I will never again make light of how the south "shuts down" for what I would consider to be mild flurries. Without any of the snow management gear, mild flurries (followed by a deep freeze) make for some truly horrendous driving conditions.
      • by ClayDowling ( 629804 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:55AM (#46109937) Homepage

        We get black ice on the highways here in Michigan all the time. The difference is that we don't panic. My truck loses its grip, I quickly stop doing the thing that made it lose its grip. If heavy snow starts, we don't all rush out into the streets at once. We tend to stagger our leave so that traffic has a chance to clear, and we have a chance to not be in the worst of it. We check road conditions before heading out. I've driven across multiple states during ice storms and blizzards without problem, and without plows or salt trucks providing any relief.

        A million salt trucks wouldn't have saved Atlanta. The key is keeping your head and knowing what to do. Everybody in Atlanta buried their heads in the predicted snow, pretending it wouldn't happen, then lost their heads when it did. Their emergency management response was poor to non existant, and they paid the price. They're going to need a leadership change if they don't want this to happen again.

        • by NoImNotNineVolt ( 832851 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:11AM (#46110129) Homepage
          This wasn't black ice. It was a solid sheet of ice, curb to curb, sitting on every paved surface in the area. Without a single grain of salt, sand, or gravel sitting on top. Without a single gap of cleared road surface peeking through. If you've seen conditions like that in Michigan, you guys have the shittiest snow management system in the country, because unlike Georgia, you should be prepared.
  • by ThisIsAnonymous ( 1146121 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:57AM (#46109157)
    I live here in Atlanta. I work from home and I convinced my wife to stay at home (she's 7 months pregnant). So we didn't have to deal with the mess. One thing I would note though, there were probably 3 times in the last month where we were told we would have snow and it never happened. I think that might have made people feel like this was another false threat.
    • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:04AM (#46109231) Journal
      It's a vicious cycle. I saw a political cartoon once that showed the cycle of snow threats in Georgia: It might not snow, but it might, so close everything. Oh no, it didn't snow, we'll know better next time. Next time: It might snow, but it might not, so let's keep everything open. Oh no, it snowed and wrecked the city for a few days. We'll know better next time. (Rinse, repeat.)
    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )
      When I was in high school 10 years ago here in Atlanta, it seemed like school was cancelled if even flurries were predicted. Yet when a winter storm is expected, not a single metro area school system was closed. This is the biggest failure and the major cause of what happened in my opinion.
  • Risk management (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @09:57AM (#46109159)

    I'm amazed that a politician of all people took the gamble in that direction. Maybe it'll come up at the next election that you blew through a cool couple of million for a snow day that never happened, but everyone will remember the time they wasted a tank of gas trying to travel two miles and their kids were trapped at school overnight.

  • Salted in advance? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Come on, I have lived in North Dakota and Minnesota my whole life, and I have never seen pre-emptive salting. Heck, most places up here don't even use salt because it doesn't do anything beneficial when temperatures are 0F and lower for weeks at a time.

    The only answer is to get comfortable driving in wet conditions, and then be more careful. I drove through two winters with summer tires because I was too lazy to change them, and I still had little issue starting, stopping, and turning on icy roads. Peopl

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      Come on, I have lived in North Dakota and Minnesota my whole life, and I have never seen pre-emptive salting. Heck, most places up here don't even use salt because it doesn't do anything beneficial when temperatures are 0F and lower for weeks at a time.

      First of all, it never got into single digits here, so salt and chemicals would have still worked. Also, up in Minnesota and North Dakota, the government has plenty of snow plows and salt trucks. Atlanta barely has any. When your entire fleet consists of a handful of trucks for an entire metro area of a major city, you have to preemptively salt roads. This whole mess was a result of poor planning, slow reactions, and a lack of infrastructure. The first 2 are easy to fix. The third one would be too exp

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:00AM (#46109187)

    Ok granted Atlanta dropped the ball. But the drivers are being complete idiots. Probably due to poor basic science education.
    Yes the road are unsalted. and most of the cars have summer tires... However to be dead stopped for days is just retarded.
    Boadcast these instructions over the radio.

    1. Keep Calm, don't panic.
    2. Accelerate Slowly
    3. Decelerate Slowly
    4. Drive Slowly
    5. Double or Triple your distance that you normally are between you and the car in font of you, to allow more time to stop.

    I am seeing on the news complete idiots just hitting the gas spinning their wheels and driving out of control. The it is a Gas Pedal not a Gas Button, you can use it to drive at various speeds.

    • I dunno I live in the north and these simple facts are apparently not understood here either.
    • by pspahn ( 1175617 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:14AM (#46109353)

      5. Double or Triple your distance that you normally are between you and the car in font of you, to allow more time to stop.

      I don't think 8 or 12 feet is going to be enough.

    • by DamnRogue ( 731140 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:22AM (#46109435)

      I live in Atlanta but grew up in Boston. I fully agree that southerners can't drive in the snow. Your advice is good. However, it is also totally useless for what happened here.

      People were stuck in their cars because a million vehicles tried to exit a ten square mile area simultaneously. It was instant gridlock. Proper acceleration technique means nothing if there is nowhere to go. Once the inevitable handful of accidents occurred, even the lucky folks that were on the front of the traffic wave couldn't get anywhere.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      But it's required to drive 6 inches from the guy in front of you. If you can see their tail lights, then someone else might get in that spot!

    • by NoImNotNineVolt ( 832851 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:31AM (#46109569) Homepage
      Bull. Shit.

      I'm a northerner down here on work travel. Your advice is a serious fail. Good luck making it up even the slightest hill if you "drive slowly". Good luck not sliding into the gutter on any banked road if you "drive slowly".

      You've never driven on unconditioned roadways after a snowfall. You're used to grippy snow, or slushy ice. You have a large fleet of snow management vehicles that make sure your roads are safe to drive on when it snows. There was none of that down here. The roads were a sheet of ice. A sheet of unconditioned ice. No salt, no gravel, no sand. Just solid ice. Not patches of ice, but a good solid sheet of ice, curb to curb.

      I myself was laughing about how the whole state of Georgia entirely shut down for what I consider to be a mild flurry. Then I drove to work. While the indigenous drivers didn't come across as well-prepared or skilled ice drivers, I can honestly say that to blame them is wrong. The roads really were unbelievably shitty, possibly worse than anything I have ever driven in. And I've lived in Maine and have driven through blizzard-like conditions in Canada on many occasions.
      • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:44PM (#46111297) Homepage Journal

        THANK YOU!!!

        You have no idea how frustrating it is as a Southerner to be constantly condescended upon because of our supposedly lousy driving skills. I don't care HOW skilled you are at driving on snow or ice, when you crest an ice-covered hill with a curve at the bottom, even if you're driving 1 MPH, you're going to go off the road or crash into the curb (or the car) at the bottom.

        Every time I see one of these "lrn2drv" smug posts, I want to invite that person to come on down and drive on a road that is completely untreated in a car that is completely unequipped for snow/ice driving. In this case, I'd love to get them to try it in the middle of an Atlanta rush hour that was as popped out on steroids as it has ever been in the history of the city. Yes, we're not used to driving on ice. Yes, there are some fools who do it wrong. But I've seen people who are the most careful of drivers creeping along at a snail's pace still have wrecks because, believe it or not, when your roads have no snow or ice for 999 out of 1000 days in a row and no one has prepared for the eventuality that they might, and your government is run by "don't spend money for any reason"/"let's err against the side of safety" idiots, shit happens.

  • "Why would you in a city that gets one snow event every three years? Why would you buy 500 snowplows and salt trucks and have them sit around for 1,000 days, waiting for the next event?"

    I shall become rich and famous by inventing a novel type of financial transaction whereby one makes a payment in exchange for the temporary use of goods or property. I shall name it... "Compensated borrowing". Nobel Prize in Economics, here I come!

  • by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi&evcircuits,com> on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:05AM (#46109249) Homepage

    The city here doesn't even plow or salt for 2 inches of snow. We've been having 2 inches of snow almost on a daily basis all winter, some days we have had 18 inches and still the city doesn't come to a standstill, there are no snow days at work even though there was a state of emergency and the city didn't start plowing until 8am.

  • by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:06AM (#46109261) Homepage
    Why would you buy 500 snowplows and salt trucks and have them sit around for 1,000 days, waiting for the next event?""

    That's why you repurpose existing equipment. Snowplows themselves aren't a huge investment, and they last basically forever with little maintenance. Put a clause in your purchasing specs that all newly purchased garbage trucks and DOT dump trucks must have hookups for a plow. Retrofitting is expensive but if you're buying a truck anyway, the additional cost isn't much. Even dump trucks without special spreading equipment can be used; some dump trucks have small sliding gates on the main gate like this one [blogspot.com]. This is normally used for shoveling out small quantities of asphalt when patching roads, but in a pinch you could open them up and spread salt/sand on the road. Get creative! Making plans is cheap.
    • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:12PM (#46110927)

      Quite right!
      Snowplows do get chewed up in the North, but they'd survive just fine in the South and last many, many years.
      Plow mounts could be swapped easily as generations of trucks are replaced. Both dump and garbage trucks already have hydraulic power takeoff systems so adding plows is is but mounting and plumbing.
      The bed modification shown in your pic is easy to retrofit at a cost of a few hundred dollars per truck, and easy to repair if it gets bashed. Local fab shops and possibly the DOT shops could spit them out easily.
      Spreaders can be purchased and fitted with quick-attach mounts.
      If it were my tasking I'd set aside warehouse space and have plows spreaders palletized on steel frames with forklift pockets for easy handling and maintenance. One or two forklifts could feed the gear to a line of trucks staged outdoors. Lift the gear, attach the gear to the truck, move to the next truck while hydraulic hookups and functional checks proceed. That's faster than storing them on the ground outdoors and would involve less wresting to connect if done right.
      When operations are complete, reverse the process, pressure wash and lube the gear on the pallets, then fork them back into the warehouse for the next adventure.
      Have each device carry a set of printed maintenance forms in an attached container as is done with military ground support equipment to facilitate easy review and entry of discrepancies. No need to invent a new system as the military has done it this way for decades and it works well.

  • by Major Blud ( 789630 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:07AM (#46109269) Homepage

    The comments sections on quite a few sites were filled with degrading comments for us "sutherns" freakin' out about 2 inches of snow. There are a few things I'd like to point out before this thread fills with the same stuff:

    1) I'm in Louisiana. I can count the times it's snowed like this on one hand in my 36 years here. We don't get much of a chance to practice winter driving.

    2) We're simply not equipped to deal with the snow. We don't have snow plows or salting/sanding machines. Yes, I still feel that purchasing this type of equipment is a waste of taxpayer money to prepare for an event that happens maybe for one day every 5 years at the most. Do you see Rhode Island spending money on earthquake proof buildings for example?

    3) It was more of a problem with ice than snow. The roads had started to form a pretty thick layer of ice on Monday morning (I know because I had to drive through it).

    That said, here in Louisiana roads and schools were closed starting on Monday afternoon. I'm not sure what Atlanta was thinking to wait until Tuesday to do this, but like the article says, there could have been uproar if they cried wolf.

    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:21AM (#46109427) Homepage

      " We're simply not equipped to deal with the snow. We don't have snow plows or salting/sanding machines. "

      I have 6 feet of snow in my front yard right now, the roads have been CAKED in 6 inches of hard packed ice and snow for weeks and Salt doesn't work at 3 degrees F. and I can easily drive the 45 miles to work and back every day in a minivan that has crap all season tires, new ones but crappy cheap bottom of the barrel tires.

      One thing I know about the south is that you guys are happy to drive around on worn out bald tires, I work regularly in the south Huntsville, NOLA, etc and you guys think that buying tires is a sin. Get real tires and you too can drive on ice and snow easily that is 4X of the worst you got this year.

      It is the drivers and their lack of driving ability. I've been to Atlanta many times, they barely know how to stay in their own lane let alone understand what those speed limit signs mean. I am thinking in the south a speed limit sign means that is as slow as you can go, and you should try to drive at 100mph 5 inches from the guy in front of you. And that is why when it get's slippery they all crash.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hendrips ( 2722525 )


        Apparently, however, "you guys" think grammar is a sin...

        As someone who's lived in the Deep South myself, I'll accept your criticism - as soon as everyone up north learns to handle tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquake proofing just as well as we're supposed to handle driving in snow. I currently live in an area where tornadoes can occur, and a distressing number of New England transplants don't understand why they're not safe in their cars, or why hiding in a windowless basement is a sound idea. For a wh

  • My experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:09AM (#46109289)
    I live 20 minutes north of the city, and work at the airport south of the city. It started snowing at my apartment at 9:30 am Tuesday. I was stuck at work tuesday night, worked all day wed, got put up in a hotel by my company wed night, and am working all day today before I go home tonight at my regular work time. No one here with any sense is really mad that we didn't have enough equipment: we can't justify spending millions of dollars in equipment for something that happens so rarely. The biggest issue was they did not close the schools on Tuesday. Businesses started letting people leave early afternoon because the weather was starting to get bad. Then schools closed early and everyone with kids had to leave as well. We literally had probably 85-90% of the commuting workforce on the road at the same time, and 2 of our major highways-I-75 and I-85-are actually the same road through downtown Atlanta. If schools had been closed on Tuesday, a lot of people would have stayed home, and traffic would have been very manageable. Also, considering the fact that these events are so rare, the government should have started treating roads as early as Monday night. They predicted that it would hit the south side. If they had treated the south side monday night, they could have recovered and treated the north side tuesday morning when they realized it would hit the north side hardest.

    As a side note, snow in Atlanta usually falls as large wet clumps that are already melting. This week was the first time in decades where Atlanta has gotten true, powder snow. So a lot of people here have no idea how to drive in this weather, and it only takes a handful of cars not being able to make it up a hill or hitting an ice patch to shut down an entire interstate.

  • "money would have been lost, and people would have complained."

    Money is a LOT more important than public safety and life. Honestly I really hop that people start suing the crap out of the city of atlanta for their lack of care about the public safety.

  • by mpercy ( 1085347 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:22AM (#46109439)

    Several things seemed to make this event different from similar snowfall events that I've seen here in the last 20 years or so.

    When snowfall occurs here it is usually a passing cold front event in an otherwise seasonable temperature period with daytime temps in the 40's or high 30's. So when snow falls, it pretty much melts in the streets until after 5PM or so when the temps start to drop. This time, we had several days of very cold weather preceding the snowfall and it was as if the streets' thermal mass had already been depleted. Snow hitting the streets initially melted but started to freeze into ice sheets quickly, more quickly than usual. By about 1PM many streets, especially surface streets with plenty of shade, were already covered with a thick ice sheet.

    Atlanta has lots of creeks and small rivers with bridges. Atlanta is also quite a hilly place. Bridges ice before the main road, and bridges here are often at the bottom of a hill in both directions. So all the bridges and all the low-lying areas at the bottom of hills froze first. Many cars could not make it up the icy slope. Even minor slopes on surface streets especially became impassible due to the ice. Again, all this happened much earlier in the day than people have come to expect.

    I live 4.5 miles from work, normally an 8-12 minute commute. I left my office at 12:45PM and it took me 2.5 hours and I had to use multiple alternative routes as I encountered several places where bridges and low-lying areas were impossible to get through. Luckily I know multiple routes home and was able to mentally plot the flattest route home and wind my way through interconnected neighborhoods. Even still, I used the GPS to avoid the dead ends that are common in neighborhoods. A co-worker left 15 minutes after I did, and 4.5 hours later made it as far as my house--he stopped for a bathroom break and made it home a full 12 hours after he left. My brother-in law left downtown at 2:30PM, two hours later managed to pick up his wife who works 1 mile away from where he works. At 8:30PM we used the computer traffic reports and google maps to get them off the interstate through neighborhoods, and by 1:30AM they had made it to our house. We figure it was another 8 hours to their house. Good thing he had taken his 4-wheel drive "hunting pickup" to work that morning.

    Everyone started leaving offices after about 12PM-3PM, which normally would have been plenty soon but by then it was already too late on too many surface streets, so even the main roads which had been pre-treated and the interstates which have enough traffic to provide hot exhaust and tire friction heat to keep lanes open backed up--people exiting onto surface streets had no where to go.

    Businesses and schools took a chance, given that the forecast had called for the snowfall to be south of the city. With much of the population in metro-ATL actually being north of the city, to forecast made many people in north metro-ATL figure there would be no real problem.

    Schools in particular did everyone a disservice by staying open, then announcing early dismissals at 12:30PM or so. So tens of thousands of overwrought mommies and daddies jumped on the roads at the same time to make sure their precious offspring didn't have to risk a bus ride.

    Also, the cell phone system was overloaded. So many people stuck in their cars for so long panicking chewed up all the bandwidth.

  • by mpercy ( 1085347 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:47AM (#46109813)

    Saw many people helping push stuck vehicles at least to get them off the road if nothing else. Saw just as many people screwing over the pushers by driving around the vehicle being pushed and then getting stuck themselves now in front of the original vehicle. So the pushers have to move forward to help this asshole before they can help the original person. And the process repeats!

    After I managed to make it home (2.5 hrs to go 4.6 miles), I went outside and started try to help. I had some bags of sand left in my garden from a previous project and hauled those out to the road by my house as people were spinning their wheels there. I spread the sand over the closest patches of ice where I saw people stuck. Almost everyone rolled down their windows and said thank you, even though it meant they could move only about 20 yards further up the road. But one guy, who had to see me spreading sand in front of and under the 4 or 5 cars in front of him, as soon as I got done with the car in front of him and it pulled forward he immediately pulled forward and nearly clipped me *as* *I* *was* *spreading* *sand* to help him!

    Out of sand, I started helping neighbors and other drivers push some vehicles. One lady was practically crying as she rolled down her window "Thank you thank you thank you". Most people a smart enough to roll down their window and take the advice we're giving them --"Cut you wheels over here toward the curb, there's some traction there." One guy *stayed* *on* *his* *phone* the entire time we were trying to help him and didn't do anything we asked him to do. Idiot.

  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @10:47AM (#46109837) Homepage

    Just invest in snow plows, they won't complain about sitting unused for four years. Just make sure that the trucks you have can use them. Having one is an insurance.

    Salt spreaders are an expensive luxury in most cases, if your car isn't prepared for ice you shouldn't be driving. Proper winter tires is better than salt.

    And look at the weather report, if the report says 4" of snow and windy, you will sure have 4' of snow in some places and no in other, causing problems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:17AM (#46110201)

    Atlanta's excuses are pathetic and laughable. The governor shows some really weak logical abilities. Limit traffic into the city and lose money...yeah, some will complain OR Let people become stranded on the roadways and all traffic into the city get blocked...many more will get much more angry. I know which path I would take.

    I grew up in suburbs of Jackson, MS. Ever since the big Ice Storms of the early 1990s, Jackson and all surrounding municipalities salt the high-volume roads whenever snow or an ice storm is predicted...even if it's predicted to be a light snow or ice storm...even if it's supposed to barely miss the Jackson area. If Jackson, MS can keep equipment and supplies around to do this, Atlanta can too.

    Also consider the recent severity of storms further north and the recent polar vortex. Atlanta's leadership is simply incompetent.

  • Lots of nonsense (Score:4, Informative)

    by onyxruby ( 118189 ) <onyxruby@[ ]cast.net ['com' in gap]> on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:22AM (#46110259)

    I read story after story about how most people don't have 4 wheel drive, snow tires and they don't have salt for the roads. Most people from the north don't have 4 wheel drive and they don't have snow tires (all season are most common). The amounts of snow that shut down the south doesn't even justify putting salt down up north, it simply snows small amounts like that too often to justify it.

    Really, you don't need a 4x4 SUV with snow tires just to tackled a couple inches of snow. In fact a vehicle like that is more likely to lose control and roll over in the ditch. A regular 2wd car with all season tires is perfectly fine for typical winter driving in the north. If you can afford snow tires those are preferred, but hardly required. Applying more gas if your stuck will never get you out, it will just make you more stuck. Slowly rock your car out sideways and back and forth and you can free yourself most of the time.

    What you do need to do is remember to slow the hell down. You need a lot more stopping distance than normal. You also need a lot longer to start and if you pull into traffic like normal your going to get T-boned. When you do slow down do so before the curve and don't slam on your brakes. Most people lose control and spin out when they are braking. Try braking when you are in an isolated area to know how long it will take your car - not you - to respond.

    There is no excuse for that kind of thing other than people being reckless. If the conditions aren't familiar to you, than slow the hell down until you become familiar, it's that simple.

  • by Assmasher ( 456699 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:26AM (#46110295) Journal

    ...I remember both the county (Cherokee) and the City of Atlanta talking about this 3 years ago when another light snow storm shut everything down. There were lots of words and phrases like "we'll be prepared next time" and "this won't happen again", followed by a few weeks of local news articles about how millions of dollars had been spent on new road treatment equipment and trucks and how materials had been stockpiled so that they'd be "ready" the next time.

    I left my office at 5:15PM, luckily in a 4WD jeep, and got home (12 miles away) at 8:40 - and I gave quite a few people rides to various destinations who had already abandoned their cars (this one kid had walked from Southern Polytechnic to almost Wade Green [this is a long ways] without gloves and a light coat.) Mostly I ferried parents who had to walk to the local middle school/high school to pick up their kids when the schools shut down the buses (which was smart.) I went back out and got onto the local parking lot usually known and highway 92 to pick up some neighbors who were trying to walk home and eventually got back around 1:45AM - the roads at this time still PACKED with cars.

    It wasn't until 1:15PM when I was almost home with my last pickup that I FINALLY saw a snow plow truck driving around (like an a**hole by the way) and his plow was up and he wasn't dropping any sand or salt.

    It was the traffic nightmare from hell - and not only did the local governments utterly fail to plan for this event that everyone was aware of for days, they didn't react worth a sh** either.

    The good news from all of this is that I saw an amazing number of good Samaritans helping out anybody they possibly could. There were people on quads ferrying people around and having a good time doing it. There were clumps of people all walking from their abandoned cars laughing and making the best of it. On most of the side roads, people were coming out of their houses in neighborhoods to help people navigate the zombieland-like fields of abandoned cars. My favorite was this old couple on Hwy 92 that were simply walking through the traffic handing out bottles of water to people stuck there. They were walking hand in hand lugging the water behind them (it was very sweet.) I saw lots of frustration, but surprisingly no hostility towards other people.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:27AM (#46110307)

    OK, so you have made the choice not to put in the salt storage and buy the plows. Fine.

    BUT when you make that choice you have to keep the consequences of that choice in mind when you make the choice of whether or not the city stays open when there is a threat of a storm.


  • by mpercy ( 1085347 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @11:37AM (#46110475)

    Any snowplow that might have been sent out would have quickly become mired in the traffic jam that coincided with the first few flakes.

    By the time there was anything to plow, the main roads were already deadlocked because the surface streets (which would have been plowed last anyway) were jammed due to traffic lights timed for mid-day rather than rush-hour operations and many many many iced-over low-lying areas that created car traps. Bridges over every minor creek sit at the bottom a tiny valley (it's up hill both ways!). These iced over almost immediately making it very difficult if not impossible to get through.

    Many people abandoned their cars in the middle of the road. By morning the next day, there were still miles of interstate with bumper-to-bumper semi trailers interspersed with a few cars.

    1000 plows would have done nothing. It was over (traffic wise) almost as soon as the first flakes of snow hit the ground. The hilly terrain combined with the below average temps for several days meant that roads, especially the various "feeder" surface roads, iced over almost immediately at least in the low-lying areas. Once a few cars failed to make it up some iced-over hill, that road was jammed. It took about 1 hour from the first few flakes before the traffic jam on surface streets backed up onto the interstates.

    Realizing that the bridges would be a chokepoint, I managed to get home by plotting the flattest route with fewest bridges I could think of using interconnecting neighborhood streets. Once I got off the feeder roads and the main arteries, I was only facing snow and ice and not 100's of jammed-up cars. Still, it took me 2.5 hours to drive less than 5 miles. I still ended up reversing a hundred yards or so when I came out of one neighborhood and could not cross the feeder road due to traffic. Was able to get to a different outlet and get across. I also parked once (in a church parking lot) and scouted ahead on foot.

    Fortunately, I was dressed appropriately, able and fully prepared to walk home should I have come to some point were I was stuck. I also had a fully-charged non-cellphone GPS that has pedestrian mode. Just in case.

    Not like people I saw walking later. One woman was still trying to walk in stiletto heels. Men in dress shoes could barely stand upright. One woman had shopping bags over her shoes to protect them I guess, but this of course made everything very slippery (seriously plastic bag on snow?).

  • by Gim Tom ( 716904 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:34PM (#46111175)
    I am a rare breed. I was born in Atlanta and lived here much of my life. However, I did live up in the snow belt for several years, and I can assure you that, while I wouldn't think twice about driving in snow in Ohio, I try to avoid it if at all possible here. It IS different. One thing that Atlanta has that most northern snow belt areas lack is an abundance of hills. These do make a difference. Atlanta has always had problems with winter weather, but the other thing about Atlanta and this area in general is that the weather changes very quickly. It was 11 degrees here this morning and this afternoon it may be in the mid 40's. By Sunday the mid 60's are forecast. The cost of providing for extensive snow or ice removal is just not worth it.

    Those not familiar with the region don't understand that Atlanta is in Georgia and those might as well be two different countries. After a 2011 snow event the CITY of Atlanta did invest in snow removal equipment and did have a better plan to deal with it this time. From what I have seen and heard the CITY really did handle it better than it has ever been handled in the past. That said, most of the traffic problems and grid lock seen around the world was NOT on Atlanta city streets, but on Interstate highways and State roads. These thread all though Atlanta and they are maintained EXCLUSIVELY by the State. This is where the politics and incompetence comes in.

    State government here has been on a mission to downsize itself and transform itself into a jobs program for friends of well connected state politicians since about the year 2000 or earlier. The state highway department which is the organization that is responsible for all of the STATE roads, whether in Atlanta or not, has shrunk from over 7,000 employees to just over 4,000 just in the last few years. Many of the departures were by experienced people who left for the private sector or to county and municipal employers who now provide better compensation and benefits than does the State of Georgia. The head of the State Highway department, has traditionally been an engineer with experience. The current head is a political appointee who has no engineering degree and no experience in this area at all. This is just one example, but throughout the state, for well over a decade, there has been an erosion of competence in providing the services that the state is responsible for providing. This is not due to the remaining employees, who do the actual work, but due to poor planing, incompetent management and complete lack of understanding by the elected officials of what is required to run the largest state East of the Mississippi river.
  • They live close to Myrtle Beach and our town got about 1" of snow and ice. The town subsequently shut down for 2 1/2 days. People down there simply do not know how to deal with ice. Even if you're a carpet bagger from the North, you're better off staying inside and not getting t-boned by some guy who thinks you can drive full speed so long as there's no unplowed snow on the road.

  • by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Thursday January 30, 2014 @12:44PM (#46111301)

    There are actually two Atlantas: (1) The City of Atlanta and (2) The Atlanta Metropolitan Area.

    The City of Atlanta has a population of 432,000 and its mayor is Kasim Reed. Reed is an up-and-coming politician in the Democratic Party; he has been on "Meet the Press" and other Sunday morning talk shows a lot. Reed looked very bad during the 2011 Snowstorm, so since then the City has purchased approximately 70 snowplows & salt trucks. It has also trained its crews to operate that equipment. City crews were out and about on Tuesday and City-owned arterial streets were pretty passable.

    The City of Atlanta also owns the Atlanta airport, so the City actually has weather forecasters on its payroll.

    The Atlanta metropolitian region that surrounds the City of Atlanta has a population of 4.5 million spread over 20 suburban counties and a couple dozen small cities. The majority of these suburbs are very Republican and are the base of voters that elected Governor Deal. For example, Cobb County, where the Atlanta Braves professional baseball team are planning to move to, is the home of former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. The Suburban counties and cities have not invested in snowplows and instead rely of the statewide Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). GDOT does a really good job given what they have to work with -- they only have something like 120 snowplows for the *entire* state of Georgia. It never snows all over Georgia at once, so GDOT just moves its plows to where they are needed.

    The other complicating factor is that about 1.2 million of the 4.5 million suburbanites commute into the City of Atlanta every day.

    What happened Tuesday was the perfect clusterf---. About noon, all of the 1.2 million commuters all attempted to leave Atlanta at about the same time.... this was actually documented by the Georgia Navigator traffic system (http://www.511ga.org). These commuters managed to leave the City of Atlanta because the City had treated its roads, but then they hit the Interstate highways and expressways that are plowed and sanded by the GDOT. .... GDOT simply could not keep up because GDOT's statewide crews were also being used elsewhere around the state. The roads clogged and then what GDOT snowplows and sanders that were out got stuck in that traffic.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel