Thursday, January 30, 2014

Not so HOTlanta


I was so fortunate when living in Atlanta that I never had to travel more than a couple miles to and from work. Yesterday, I was glued (yes, glued) to CNN based in Atlanta which was reporting on the chaos that ensued with snarled traffic on Tuesday.


Many of the reporters who were also stuck in traffic gave personal accounts of the ordeal. An interview with the mayor was quite entertaining as he seemed to “pass the buck”. But don’t most politicians practice that? The governor did not think the “event” would be a bad. Surprise, sir! With a city the size of Atlanta, you have to plan! Atlanta traffic is horrible on regular commutes and even worse when it rains. So, I do not need to be a rocket scientist to predict what will happen when there is even a chance of snow. I am happy to report that our good friend Ward made it home yesterday morning.


I thought this article in Business Insider by Alex Davies was one of the most interesting that I read. You should read it too.

A few inches of snow in Atlanta have led to gridlock, hundreds of accidents, and a baby born on the side of a highway in the past 24 hours.

The City knew the storm was coming, and has a new fleet of snowplows and vehicles to spread sand. So what went wrong?

Atlanta-based designer Thomas Strickland spent eight hours in traffic, and offered up a great explanation of the problem on Metafilter.

He gave us permission to publish his take:


Considering I just spent upwards of eight hours in this mess as a driver, then an additional mile and a half on foot, let me tell you what it is like.

It isn't just snow. In fact, if it was merely snow, we'd all be mostly fine. Admittedly, this is Atlanta, where even rain can lengthen an evening commute. On certain days, we'll even have something the traffic reporters call a "sunshine slowdown" because the glare is the only explanation for it. But for the most part, we're all used to what effect weather has on our getting to and fro.

But imagine this scenario: The weather service has been calling for severe snow for a few days, but the predictions only promise an inch or less. Now, it is one thing for you the commuter to scoff at the weather, but what if your municipal powers-that-be took the same attitude? No preparation, no salting or sanding before hand, and (this is the big one) no planned municipal closures.

So high noon rolls around and the snow arrives, and hey, that stuff is coming down pretty hard, like something seriously worth considering. It is at this time that the powers-that-be decide to close several offices and multiple schools.

Schools. Schools containing children whose parents haven't planned to fetch them until much later. So all of those parents now have to go rushing from wherever to their school of choice. Atlanta is a driving city, not a walking city or especially a rail or bus city, so thus commences a volley of unexpected traffic volume.

As the snow falls, several businesses catch the same idea, so they too decide to roll up the carpet and send their employees home a few hours early. This is a second unexpected volley of traffic.

Oh, and the sand trucks? They're heading out for their first run. We've about 30 or 40 such trucks to serve all of Atlanta, by the way.

Now this whole time, the snow is still falling and since the temperature has been hovering right around 27 degrees, the stuff is sticking to the streets. All of these commuters are crowding these streets, and while some are lucky to have found some roads favored by that first run of sanding, most are just plowing through and keeping the streets mostly ice-free by friction alone.

But with added volume, because the number of cars keeps increasing, these streets are getting crowded and the traffic is slowing and the snow melt that used to work so well isn't nearly so effective. Now that melted snow is refreezing under the tires of all of these stacked motorists. Those tires manage to melt a little of the top layer, but it freezes right back quickly. The result is a particularly Southern phenomena that looks and feels like cold glass.

What about the sand trucks? Well, they've made it through their first run, but now they can't so quickly get back to the warehouses to get more of that precious sand.

And all of those commuters? They're getting to know one another quite well, with run-ins and rear-endings and side-swipes that make it necessary for the police to be involved, and occasionally a fire truck, sadly an ambulance.

A few of those commuters just say "Screw it" and leave their cars where they get stuck, stomping off into the snow in hopes of stumbling home.

Did I mention the school buses that were still trying to get kids home at 10pm or later?

It is a horrible and dreadful and disastrous situation, and while it is easy to mock, please take a moment to consider just how quickly this escalated and how it could've been prevented. This is more than your typical case of "The South can't deal with a little snow."

I am still amazed (ok…shocked) at the snow event in Atlanta.

Interesting read, y’all!


  1. I watched it off and on all day yesterday, too. I even posted a link to the Fbook page that was set up just for the Atlanta snow storm. It was awful! Just awful. We call that black ice here and even WE can't drive on it. xo Diana

  2. I was so relieved when Ward made it home. The stories are just unreal to hear. My hubby is still not home. After driving 2miles in 2hours he turned around and went back to work. Best decision he made, he's been safe and warm and will make it today when the temps hit 40 and the ice melts. The wonderful stories of community coming together have made my heart warm. Be safe!

  3. It really was unbelievable! We didn't get as much news coverage of it here in NJ but what I saw was crazy! How scary it must have been for all those people stuck in their cars. Hopefully they won't be getting any more of that winter weather any time soon! I am already sick of the cold here in NJ. We woke up to -4 degrees this morning. I need a vacation!

  4. Unless you were here, you cannot even begin to imagine what it was like! Nightmare!!! So thankful Ward and others finally made it home (including m daughter and her boyfriend). Schools should have been closed, thus a lot of parents would have already been home-less on the roadways, not as many scrambling last minute to get to them. But, most importantly...the drivers of semis should NOT have been inside the perimeter, all should have been required to have snow chains, or pull off. You have warm cabs you can sleep in, most likely provisions as you are used to be on the roads for hours at a time. Instead, you were sliding all over and in many cases blocking 4-5 lanes of traffic, thus no one, including our salt trucks could get through!!! As for our mayor, GET A CLUE! The weather model changed, you were informed, WELL before the first round of school buses would need to roll out, and WELL before most would have headed in to work!

  5. I ( living in Montreal - and very very accustomed to snow ) couldn't believe this when I saw it ) Sitting in traffic for 8 hours? OMG - people must have had acute road rage lol
    Stay warm...........

  6. What a fiasco! And so sad for so many... I would have been a raving maniac if my kids were stuck. I agree that the big guys passed buck and tried to minimize the situation. Even the weather folks here said they (ATL) had been advised. The article is very well done!


  7. Definitely a case of someone not listening and paying attention to the warnings! Our iPod alarmed at 2:00 a.m. with our winter alert! Good to hear that your friend arrived home. Take care, Ron! My sister's cruise ship docks tomorrow. Will she find good weather?

  8. This horrific situation could have been prevented. Do the governor and mayor of Atlanta not know the difference between proactive and reactive?!!! It is not like this has never happened before in Atlanta. I think the governor and mayor should take a look at Louisiana. Our government officials acted proactively, and we were prepared. I think we weathered (pun intended) this pretty darn well. Were people inconvenienced with schools being closed, bridges and highways being closed, curfews imposed? Of course, but there are not reports of people abandoning their cars and walking miles to get to safety, children having spend the night in a school bus or at their school separated from their parents or a baby being born in vehicle in sub-freezing weather. Wake up, Atlanta. It has happened before, and it will happen again. OK, rant over. On another note, I am so very happy that Amanda's husband Ward is safe. Have a great day! xoxo

  9. Something similar happened in Austin many years ago on a smaller scale because Austin isn't Atlanta. It's scary indeed. Abandoned cars were stranded for a few days on main streets. It was a mess! Yes, a city needs a plan!

  10. I was glued to the tv all day too. It was on every channel all day until the Presidents speech came on. I was so thankful to be home and not out on the roads with all of that. I don't know how people stood it! I can't even stand a long drive to the beach, let alone to be stuck on ice in the city just trying to get home!


Thanks for reading and commenting @ The Uptown Acorn! I love hearing from you. Cheers, y'all!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Follow Uptown Acorn on Instagram