Wednesday, January 29, 2014

snowmaggedon? snowpacalypse? snow jam 2014? a mess

For all you Yankees laughing us Southerners for being in such a mess because of two inches of snow, I will present to you The Reasons.

Yes, snow was predicted. I heard that between "a dusting and a half inch" would come to Atlanta and the deeper stuff would be further south. We wanted snow, and so discussed that irony as we lamented our poor, unused sleds in our garage. I heard that the weather pattern was unusual and difficult to predict.

At noon I finally saw white stuff coming from the sky and sticking to the grass. I thought about making plans with the families of Bug's walking companions to pick them up, but decided that walking would be much more fun for them than driving. Then I considered picking up Pook so he could be part of the fun. Before I'd made a clear decision, I heard the announcement that schools were closing early. The elementary kids at 1:30, high school at 2:30 and middle schoolers at 3:15. I knew from my days on school buses up north that they'd run late so I decided to get Pook. (Thank you FB for declaring me a Good Mom for getting him.) I persuaded CD to come home early, "just in case" and "why not?"

My drive to the middle school was fine, and I claimed Pook, his good friend and the friend's brother whose mom works further away. I'd have picked up a whole pack if I'd been able to reach all the parents. Cell phone towers were overwhelmed. The line to pick up kids was out the office door. The drive home was much more treacherous as cars were jammed on a steep hill and we were moving only one car length at a time. As I reached the bottom of the hill I studied the cars ahead of me, wondering if everyone had traction, or if the pile would slide down the hill like an avalanche of vehicles. I strongly warned the boys that if I skidded or was hit, they were to remain calm regardless. They were relatively sober considering they hadn't had snow to play in for three years.

Since all nearby school systems let out early, and suddenly, all parents began to leave work early and businesses closed. Atlanta rush hour traffic is not for the faint of heart anyway, and I consider evening rush "hour" to be 3-7pm. This was much, much worse. The snow that had been hitting the pavement and melting soon began turning into ice. I was home, cozy, my boys and friends were out sledding, but this was the rest of the city. I shall share a picture from Slate Magazine:
View image on Twitter 

Why did the roads get bad? Weren't they salted?  Yes, and no. We have a few trucks (30 spreaders, 40 snowplows (versus just four pieces of equipment three years ago) for 5 million people in a car-centric city)) but the trucks were in gridlock too. As the ice got worse there were close to a thousand accidents. Some drivers ran out gas, others got tired of the lack of progress. I know many people who drove 4-12 hours to make it home, but many began to abandon their cars to walk. The school buses weren't able to get the elementary school kids home, so the high school and middle school kids were stuck until parents arrived. Parents were stuck on the streets. Teachers and administrators were stuck at school, away from their own families. All around bad.

 I was serving a warm happy-cow pot roast and obsessively reading FB.

Yes, better ice-driving skills would go a long way. Maybe we could buy more snow removal equipment, but I'd rather use government money in other ways, personally. Yes, canceling schools for the day would have been a good idea. In hindsight. But you Yankees laugh at us for canceling school in advance of two inches of snow too, so we can't really win. You'll just have to come visit during one of these storms someday. Just be forewarned--you might not be able to leave.

How could I have forgotten to show you Pretty Pictures of Southern Snow?! 



  1. Hello! I found you via Becky of SubMat. I'm from Atlanta but have been living in northern cities (now Boston) for the last ten years. This week I became the resident expert on The South and How This Happened. My party line is that if it had been 3 or even 5 people I knew, I would have called it their own stupidity. But EVERYONE I know had problems, so it must have been, to use their vernacular, wicked awful. No one seems to mention the temperature in the news reports, but my mom said it started out on the warmer side and got colder as the day went on. Everyone here knows that spells trouble. So no worries, I've done my part to appease the Yankees. But on the other hand, I do wonder if bad management played some role (in letting truckers on the highways, for starters).

    1. Justine, thanks for commenting. Our temperature did drop as the day went on, but we'd have had a huge traffic problem regardless I think. Everyone left work/school at the same time. Our car-centric city couldn't handle us all at once. This article sums it up well: