Not Hotlanta

In my narrow mind, people were stranded on the roads in Atlanta for 13 hours because: it rarely snows there so they have no snow removal equipment, the storm forecast that was off, plus the governor worried that “money would be lost, and people would have complained”, and an over-reliance on cars in the suburbs because whites resist expansion of MARTA. which they believe stands for “Moving Africans Rapidly Through Atlanta”. What did I miss?

114 replies
  1. 1
    Aspasia says:

    Okay; I’ll start us off. People are complaining about walking five miles through two inches of snow in warmer-than-freezing weather?

    Hate to sound like a geezer, but then I am one.

  2. 2
    sparrow says:

    Someday in the future I plan to retire to a country which is not the US, preferably somewhere in Greece with my husband. Let me tell you how much I will miss urban sprawl: not one bit. Frankly, the vast majority deserved everything they got. Nuclear cities is the only thing we should be building and encouraging. Let the suburbs turn back into fields.

  3. 3
    Walker says:

    I have talked to my family down in NC. What the national news is not reporting is the black ice that is covering absolutely everything. The snow is just a dusting over the ice. That is why no one can go anywhere.

  4. 4
    punkdavid says:

    I was in the traffic for many hours, had to turn back to “sleep” at my office, and finally made it home the next morning. I wrote an account of my adventure.

  5. 5
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    People are complaining about walking five miles through two inches of snow in warmer-than-freezing weather?

    After sitting in wall-to-wall traffic for 4, 5, 6 or more hours and/or spinning out on the ice (because yes, it went well below freezing), running out of gas, worried about family members, after dark, in a town that is not noted for being pedestrian-friendly? You’d complain too, geezer.

  6. 6
    sharculese says:

    As a former Atlantan, I would call that an oversimplification, but not a particularly dramatic one.

  7. 7
    sharculese says:

    As a former Atlantan, I would call that an oversimplification, but not a particularly dramatic one.

  8. 8
    cleek says:

    we had a similar situation in Raleigh about 5 years ago. the forecast called for snow and ice, but schools waited until noon to close. so, at noon, all the parents in the area left work, just as the ice storm was starting, to go get their kids. immense traffic problem. gridlock for hours while the ice built up around them. snow/ice clearing trucks couldn’t do anything to help because they couldn’t navigate the traffic either. so people walked home. people slept in the cars. kids slept at school. etc..

    the south just isn’t used to snow and ice, on any level. not enough clearing equipment. not enough experience dealing with it.

    and the fact that the big cities are full of Yankees who think they know how to drive in snow and ice doesn’t help. because, unlike the north, the roads down here probably haven’t been plowed, or salted, and they almost certainly haven’t been sanded. so, you hop in your car thinking things will be fine, they you hit the road and spin into a ditch.

    i’m one of those Yankees, and i learned to stay home, after trying to drive in the first real snow i saw down here. the roads become seriously treacherous down here because they don’t have the equipment to deal with it, like they do in the north.

  9. 9
    hildebrand says:

    OT – Since the tag is general stupidity, I need to vent for two seconds. I am up for a meaningless promotion (new title, no raise, no added job security – but it does make our university administration feel like they are doing something about contingent faculty), thus I have to put in a file for the review committee to skim. I turned in 150 pages of materials last Friday. The committee informed me that I have to provide additional information. What else, you ask? Well, I have to take information that is presented on one type of spreadsheet, and transfer it all to a different spreadsheet format. They have all of the information, it is easy to read, but since it is not on their preferred format, I have to redo six years of data.

    None of this is earthshaking, just soul-destroyingly meaningless.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

  10. 10
    SatanicPanic says:

    @sparrow: I lived in Japan for 5 years and never once drove a car. I didn’t miss it one bit.

  11. 11
    mapaghimagsik says:

    You know, morons.

  12. 12
    AliceBlue says:

    As a native Georgian and one-time resident of Atlanta, I can say you pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    We live about 60 miles south of the city, and the forecast was all over the place in the couple of days before the storm. We were barely going to get a dusting. Then we were going to get 2-4 inches. Then we weren’t going to get anything at all. We ended up with about an inch.

  13. 13
    BGinCHI says:

    Was the government supposed to save all the folks who voted for Tea Party reps?

    While they were sitting there waiting for “help,” what kind of “help” did they think it was going to be? Talk radio hosts? The Free Market personified?

    I guess now they know what “the collective” means.

    ETA: Yes, I know not everyone is a right winger around there, but they is the majority, ain’t they?

  14. 14
    Ben Cisco says:

    What did I miss?

    Not one damned thing.

  15. 15
    Belafon says:

    Here in Texas, I was watching the story this morning, and the weatherman chimed in. This is probably the friendliest guy on the channel, and his statement went: “You weren’t given enough time governor? I know what you were afraid of, given that the storm was supposed to start after people were at work or school: Do you cancel school and then the storm doesn’t happen? But not having enough warning? I know some of those weather people and you had 12 to sometimes 18 hours of warning.”

    I think this incident says a lot about us as Americans: Gotta get those hours of work out of the workers. What happens to them on their own time is not my fault.

  16. 16
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Also, you need to read punkdavid‘s blog entry. I failed to mention that most of the people caught in this thing and forced to walk would likely not be appropriately dressed for hiking in the cold. If your typical day takes you from warm house to warm car to warm workplace and back again, you’re not likely to be wearing heavy overcoats, scarves, boots, gloves, hats, etc.

  17. 17
    newdealfarmgrrrlll says:

    Politico (yeah, sorry) had an interesting piece which mentioned the plethora of competing governmental units contributing to the problem so that it was impossible to have any coordinated response. Sorry for not linking, haven’t mastered that function yet on my smart phone.

  18. 18
    karen says:

    On a message board, someone was calling for FEMA and blaming Obama that he hadn’t done anything yet.

    Long ago and far away (the 80s) I went to college in Brockport, NY and learned what snow and snow squalls really were. When I first moved to Maryland (the late 80s) it amused me how we’d freak out at just the mention of snow. We’re only the South technically because we’re South of the Mason-Dixon line but as the decades went on, the DC metro area became more adept at handling snow, though when Marion Barry was mayor, he said that Spring was the way he handled snow removal.

    But I’ll make you a bet about Icelanta. It’s a Republican governor but the mayor is a Democrat. Guess who’s gonna get the blame?

  19. 19
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    The government was supposed to do what the government is supposed to do, irrespective of the political affiliations of those affected by the weather and traffic.

  20. 20
    Al Swearengen says:

    @Walker: Yeah, we never have “ice”, which is all that “black” ice is, here in the Rocky Mountains…

    What caused this clusterf*ck is a small number of idiots who don’t understand that “slick” = “You might have to slow all the way down to 5 MPH. Not 50 MPH, 5 MPH.

    Being the South is populated with more idiots than the elsewheres of life, that small number created giant accident-caused traffic jams.

  21. 21
    srv says:

    @mapaghimagsik: You mean morans.

    My first response when it starts sleeting is to run out to my car and hit the elevated freeway.


  22. 22
    scav says:

    @cleek: Even Yankees with yearly practice are usually rubbish at the first one or two snows and then, like sea legs, it usually comes back.

    But hello, complaining about uncertainty? Plan for the uncertainty, it’s a part of the overall problem.

  23. 23
    MattF says:

    @Aspasia: If it’s on ice, if they’re older-and-likelier-to-fall… I’d stay home. And, seriously, not considering the consequences of falling makes you a non-geezer.

  24. 24
    Belafon says:

    The Republicans have a fix: Cut NOAA so no one will be prepared for anything.

  25. 25
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I believe I mentioned that in a thread a day or so ago. Maybe it was on FB, not here, I can’t remember. But yes, that’s a critical point about the competing jurisdictions. You have the State of Georgia, the City of Atlanta, and probably in excess of 100 governments at the city, county, and school district level — not to mention the fact that a lot of businesses are going to take their cues (on dismissing staff early or closing their doors) from some of the major corporations like Coca-Cola and The Home Depot. There should be better coordination amongst all these entities, and it’s not for want of trying, but for a variety of reasons the regional approach has pretty much been a non-starter in these parts.

  26. 26
    Penus says:

    I didn’t coin the term, but I admit to getting a good chuckle when people referred to the city as “Hothlanta.”

  27. 27
    johnny aquitard says:

    You missed their propensity to freak the fuck out when snow dusts the ground. Like they’ve never ever seen it before (they have — it snows in Atlanta, albeit only every 5-7 years, and hell yes water can freeze in Atlanta.) Their response to this is as if it is an existential threat. But then again anything outside their bubble is treated as an existential threat when it comes inside.

    It’s a microcosm of Red State America, a study in how they frighten themselves into a panic over shit most people look at and go ‘huh?’

  28. 28
    MomSense says:


    what kind of “help” did they think it was going to be?

    The invisible hand.

  29. 29
    BGinCHI says:

    @MomSense: Invisible Hand vs. Government Snow Plow.

    No contest.

  30. 30
    askew says:

    Best article I’ve read on why this happened.

    Basically, everyone let people out at the same time (schools, government, businesses) and they hit the road the same time the sand trucks did so the trucks couldn’t get through the traffic to get the roads treated. The icy roads caused buses and semis to get stuck, spin out, etc which made the roads impassable.

    What should have happened was a State of Emergency declared Monday night for Tuesday which would have closed schools and government. The roads should have been treated before the first snow fall in preparation. That would eliminated much of the problems.

  31. 31
    bemused says:

    When we who live in the northern regions hear forecasts of snow, wet snow or snow mixed with rain/sleet and the temps are in the 20’s to around freezing point, most of us automatically think icy roads and stay off the highways unless we have to. We call folks who have been out to find out how bad it is and where. And of course our local weather news tells us where it’s fair, bad or hellish.

  32. 32
    WereBear says:

    @hildebrand: Holy crap. Can you paste from one to the other?

  33. 33
    different-church-lady says:

    What did I miss?

    Well, the ice storm part, for one.

  34. 34
    Steve in the ATL says:

    1. As noted above, the problem was the ice, not the two inches of snow.
    2. A huge part of the traffic mess was jackknifed tractor trailers, not clueless Dixie drivers.
    3. The mayor of Atlanta has jurisdiction over only a portion of the metro area, and no authority over the interstates.
    4. The governor is a man so corrupt he had to resign from a Republican-led congress.
    5. The mayor will get the blame because (1) people assume that the mayor of Atlanta has control of the whole area; (2) he’s black; (3) he’s a Democrat; (4) he has a non-orthodox name (which my phone tries to autocorrect to “Jason;” and (5) his predecessor, also a black democrat, is in federal prison for corruption. Kasim Reed is actually a really sharp guy, but lots of folks in these parts can’t get past his race.

  35. 35
    Tokyokie says:

    @SatanicPanic: I lived in Tokyo for nearly four years, and I only drove once, just before I moved back to the States, and that was to transport some cheap bookcases in the predawn hours to the barracks where service members would gladly claim them (and I’d thus avoid trash-hauling fees). And no, I also never missed driving, and I’d loudly question the sanity of anybody who did own a car. What’s the point of having a car in a city with great public transport and nowhere to park?

  36. 36
    NorthLeft12 says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I am a Canadian so obviously I deal with this type of weather a lot more, but as a precaution I dress myself in the assumption that I might end up walking some distance due to car failure, accident, change of plans, etc.
    That means throw a pair of gloves, toque, and boots in the car before I leave. Is that really so tough?
    And yeah, I also have an umbrella, first aid kit, and emergency stuff in my car all the time. I guess that’s what us risk averse, pessimistic Canadians do.

  37. 37
    🎂 Martin says:

    OT, but this is profoundly stupid. Jon Meacham says that FDR didn’t try to redesign America by executive order. One of FDRs executive order was to confiscate all privately held gold in the country. Another was to inter all Japanese Americans, without due process.

    If Obama signed either of those executive orders, conservatives would be burning down the White House by Sunday.

  38. 38
    Roger That says:

    I know that Atlanta doesn’t want to keep a fleet of big-ass snow removal machines on hand for a storm that doesn’t strike but once every 5-10 years, but considering that everyone and their brother drives an SUV or truck down there and a plow and a salt/sand spreader attachment will set you back $1500 they could have coordinated a better response and if you know you’re that poorly-prepared you don’t gamble. But that would require a functioning central government to do, as well as a belief that “government” can even solve these types of problems. Someone above brought up marion barry’s response to snowstorms in the 80-90s that paralyzed DC, as someone who grew up there and then it’s a very apt analogy. Admit you fucked up, how you fucked up, and how you’re going to fix your fuck up, don’t complain about how yankees are being mean to you.

    Edit: I am not blaming the mayor of Atlanta for the crap road conditions- the city of Atlanta roads were pretty clear, it was the surrounding highways/municipalities that had the real issues. He’s (sorta) admitted he screwed up the early release.

  39. 39
    Botsplainer says:


    The Republicans have a fix: Cut NOAA so no one will be prepared for anything.

    Preparation is socialism. Only a Kenyan Muslim communist atheist crony capitalist satanist would want to prepare.

    Trust in God to meet your needs.

  40. 40
    Sherparick says:

    Although I don’t know what the Mayor of Atlanta’s excuse is, but the Republican controlled Governments of Cobb County and and the State of Georgia constantly run on the platform of “Government can’t work” and once in power set about proving the point. Governor Deal and the county apparently did not pre-treat the roads with salt and sand. Also, did not want to close offices and schools on the chance the storm would not be so bad and would just hug the coast. Then they compounded their errors by telling everyone to be released early at the same time before the trucks had a chance to treat the roads.

    Yes, an ice/snow storm, particularly in the South, is going to mess up things. But having professional incompetents in Government is going to make things worse.

  41. 41
    cleek says:

    @🎂 Martin:
    he said the same thing about Lincoln.

    which is unbelievably wrong.

  42. 42
    Another Holocene Human says:

    You are correct about MARTA. I first heard that one in Virginia. I never heard it in Boston b/c nobody from Boston would ever admit spending more time in Atlanta than it took to get from one terminal to the next at Hartfield Airport.

    I rode the MARTA last year on my Epic Rail Journey and it was quite nice, although the trains probably don’t run frequently enough for the high fares, but they can’t make the whole region subsidize it like WMATA, BART, etc.

    Atlanta so badly, badly needs ground transportation policy beyond MOAR LANEZES PRESHUSS but they blew up a regional attempt. The college students are restless. They want a state commuter or intercity train.

    What really, really kills me about Atlanta is that I spent a day in the city, had a really good time except for a few slightly creepy people around the Greyhound terminal … there are always some slightly creepy people about on any trip to Atlanta although if they keep up the good work I think that will be less & less of an issue. But when I went online to figure out what restaurant to go to and stuff (Mary Mac’s. It was awesome. Nother bowl of potlikker please!) there were all these roiling angry bitter comments by suburban whites who are having heart attacks they’re so offended that the African American elected officials in Atlanta are successfully ushering a prosperous, culturally rich, great to visit city into the 21st century. No! NOOOOOO! They were supposed to be sitting in their own excrement begging us to save them! Nooooooooooo!!!!

    You know what’s also awesome? Amtrak in the South. Was a little worried. But the clientele, even in 1st class, is very diverse. You can safely travel through rural counties with over-armed racist fucknuts and no pig-eyed sheriff can pull you over and write you a ticket for failing to signal a lane change on a two-lane road.

    It was relaxed. Sometimes you can feel the hate at HART but on board the train it was pretty cool. I mean, aside from a few New Yorkers pissed about the crappy food items on day 2 on the Crescent. Hey, genius, you and your coresidents ATE all the good stuff yesterday, so stop blaming the crew. Hell, I rode Amtrak in the 1990s so anything they do now way exceeds my expectations. Ditto for the ‘hound.

  43. 43
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:


    But I’ll make you a bet about Icelanta. It’s a Republican governor but the mayor is a Democrat. Guess who’s gonna get the blame?

    I dunno…Friend of mine who lives in Atlanta (proper) claims that the surface streets got salted before the storm hit, so there were very few problems there. The freeways are GDOT’s responsibility.

  44. 44
    MomSense says:


    You and I both know those plows don’t drive themselves!

    The whole mindset of the austerity/drown the govt. in a bathtub crowd baffles me. Their mindset is that this is the greatest country on earth so let’s starve her until her major cities have chaotic crashes into complete shutdown.

    I can’t believe that the “normal” traffic and commute times are acceptable. How about some investment in rail??

    I doubt that a lot of the Republicans in office, save perhaps Stockman, would allow their own houses to crumble because of deferred maintenance and neglect and yet the Army Corps of Engineers gives us a D or D- on the condition of our infrastructure.

  45. 45
    Tokyokie says:

    But jeez louise, the first rule of driving in winter weather conditions is to know a route that’s exclusively surface roads (and includes as few bridges as possible). I know that, and it’s not like I grew up in Wisconsin or someplace where it snows a lot.

  46. 46
    Another Holocene Human says:

    I need to wear one of these next time I’m in Atlanta. (the hoodie is what I have my eye on) Plus my Red Sox hat. Will I get jumped?

    Sherman’s HEAT A PEACH Tour

    ETA: I intend to ride this and visit all the Civil Rights sites.

  47. 47
    hildebrand says:

    @WereBear: Nope. The university helpfully created a form that has a programming glitch, it doesn’t allow cutting and pasting, and it also triggers an error each time you attempt to input info into a new field.

    This day is getting better and better.

  48. 48
    Tokyokie says:

    @🎂 Martin: Well, they’d probably be OK with rounding up minorities, if it was the right kind of minorities.

  49. 49
    Rich Webb says:

    Many commenters (even in the dreaded Em-ess-em ;-) seem to be overlooking one critical issue. The city of Atlanta is not responsible for the interstate highway system.That’s on the state Dept of Transportation.

    I’ve been on Atlanta’s I-285 during rush hour in good weather and that could best be described as a slow, bumper-to-bumper crawl.

    Add some snow and, once 285 locks-up with a couple of trucks jackknifed on the slick pavement, there just is not enough capacity on the remaining surface streets for everybody. Snowy, icy gridlock is inevitable.

    It’s looking like Mayor Reed is going to be the designated fall guy for this. Yes, the city could have shut down its offices and the schools and encouraged others to follow suit. Hindsight and all that but the GA DoT was the proximate cause.

  50. 50
    patrick II says:

    Gov. Deal from the link:

    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.

    The National Weather Service it right the night before, but not trusting the feds about weather is a teapublican’s right, so “some forecasters” told Dean something else and that is how he made his decision. Good decision gov, don’t let those damn feds tell you what to do.

  51. 51
    JPL says:

    Sitting in a car for hours moving .3 of a mile is not fun but I’m one of the lucky ones because I got home. What the news doesn’t mention is major roads were clogged also. The road that I was on was closed a few hours after I got home. In order to travel to the burgs, you cross a river and there are only so many bridges. Had I driven into Atlanta for jury duty, I would not of made it home. The only thing that helped me, was I took the train. From the courthouse, it took a little under six hours but five hours was spent driving from the train station. Marta worked great.

  52. 52
    boatboy_srq says:

    The only thing you missed was all the “free market solutions” that would have de-iced the roadways, rescued the stranded motorists, and otherwise cleared up the mess. But of course the Free Market™ doesn’t see value in providing services (unless there’s an horrific price tag attached), so unless Atlanta were already paying New York wages there wouldn’t be a worthwhile business model for all that.

  53. 53

    If all the people in Atlanta that carry their own hot sauce in their purse, murse or briefcase to use at restaurants dumped them on the streets, they would be ice-free.

  54. 54
    JPL says:

    @patrick II: Deal is a f..king liar! Before I left for jury duty, I checked the forecast and knew there could be a problem. I packed a goody bag in case a neighbor had to rescue the dog. The government buildings were not told to close a little after ten and the NWS did not downgrade the threat.
    He just doesn’t know the difference between a watch and a warning.

  55. 55
    Rob in CT says:

    Even Yankees with yearly practice are usually rubbish at the first one or two snows and then, like sea legs, it usually comes back.

    This is true. It’s like the first time you ski in a given year. You’re like “holy shit, wasn’t I good at this?” It comes back.

    Also, as others have pointed out, the roads aren’t treated like they are up here. I’m also convinced they are made out of an inherently slicker material. It’s certainly a different color (speaking now of Raleigh, NC). I was caught in a snow squall down in Raleigh a while back (maybe 10 yrs ago now) right around Christmas. ~6 inches in ~2 hours. It was bedlam. I managed ok, but people were spinning out and crashing all around me. I managed my “ok” by not turing the wheel unless absolutely necessary, and being very gentle with the gas & brakes. I am actually pretty good at driving in inclement weather, but you really do have to be careful and up your game. Total concentration, abundance of caution, etc.

  56. 56
    BGinCHI says:

    @cleek: Does the TV machine know that there are ACTUAL historians?

  57. 57
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    his predecessor, also a black democrat, is in federal prison for corruption

    Are you referring to Bill Campbell? He’s been out of prison since 2008. Also, just to clarify, while he was one of Kasim Reed’s predecessors, he wasn’t his immediate predecessor.

  58. 58
    JPL says:

    Atlanta is hilly. Since I have lived here for twenty five years, I’ve become accustomed to it. Unless it’s a big hill, I don’t even think about it. I was on Roswell Rd. north of the perimeter and was shocked to realize how many hills I had to go up and down. That added to the problems because a lot of drivers don’t know how to navigate on a good day. I have no idea, how many accidents I saw since I didn’t count but I did see two school buses on the side of the road. There wasn’t anything I could do.

  59. 59
    Cassidy says:

    As a southerner who has been stationed up North and the Midwest, I just want to say you guys don’t know a fucking thing about driving in inclement weather. You think you do, but he majority of you are dangerous assholes driving too fast for anyone’s good bellowing “I know what I’m doing” like a white liberal talking race relations. You got snowplows and stockpiles of dirt and salt. That’s it.

  60. 60
    pcpablo says:

    As a former NYer in Atlanta, I had a choice, walk a mile to MARTA, or drive 15 miles to downtown. Since I know the driving habits of hotlantans, I said no to “amateur hour” and took the train.Best decision ever! On the way home, all the streets were a parking lot. I LMAO until I called my co-worker in the AM and he was still trapped on a bus waiting to get home 15 hours after leaving work!
    Upside: 2 paid days off due to Gov. Raw Deal’s request that major business’ stay closed till Friday!

  61. 61
    rikyrah says:

    it’s hard for me to have sympathy for them because of how they have crapped over MARTA all these years.

  62. 62
    raven says:

    Why the South Fell Apart in the Snow

    I want to be clear right off that not everyone is being an asshole about this. Plenty of people are genuinely confused about how something like this could have happened, and it’s a valid thing to be confused about. I lived in Manhattan for seven years before I moved here. I would have been confused too.

    But if you’re making light of the situation, or more realistically using it to reinforce your view of the South and the people in it as full of backwards blubberers, you are an asshole. It’s hard to remember sometimes, but things are different in places you do not personally live.

  63. 63
    BGinCHI says:

    @Cassidy: Hilarious.

    It’s true a lot of people just can’t drive for shit in any conditions, but some of us have had a lot of practice driving in bad conditions. You live in enough lousy weather places you learn, or you crash.

    A car seems really light until you are driving it on ice…..

  64. 64
    WereBear says:

    @hildebrand: Sheesh. If it weren’t academics, I’d point out how stupid it is… but I know you can’t do that.

    Heck, I did it in corporate… but it was back in the 80’s.

  65. 65
    Another Holocene Human says:


    The whole mindset of the austerity/drown the govt. in a bathtub crowd baffles me.

    The whole notion is to make the Black city collapse by withdrawing white support. Then the Blacks will realize they needed the paternalistic care and rule of the white man and take him back with open arms.

    That this has not happened yet is the great crisis of Greater Metro Atlanta politics.

    This is also why exurbanites go on and on and on about Detroit. To many “Detroit” means the US auto industry and they assume it “fell” because of automation, outsourcing, and insourcing in the Deep South. But to “race realists” and other white supremacist vermin, including if not especially the upper middle class ones in their taupe enclaves, it’s their big “victory” in the white supremacist disvestment strategy.

    That Atlanta is thriving and attracting in population pisses them off more than anything else.

  66. 66
    fidelio says:

    @NorthLeft12: The notion of keeping a pair of spare gloves in the car, let alone a real winter kit, is completely foreign to most of the suburban, commuting office workers of Atlanta and other southern US locales. Down here in the southern US it rains, and sometimes it sleets, and planning for anything else in winter feels like an exercise in futility. When worse happens, few people are ready for it. If I told my co-workers we made sure to keep a butane stove burner and fuel cannisters on hand in case of power loss in an ice storm they’d ahake their heads. (Candles they understand. Those are Tornado Kit. We take tornadoes seriously. Not seriously enough to build houses with basements, but enough to have emergency lighting.)

    My mother, who grew up in the northern Missouri Ozarks in the age of dirt roads and Model T Fords, always had stuff in the car for emergencies–a old army blanket, extra umbrellas, Kleenex, some water and nutrition bars (before those were a thing it was peanut butter crackers or trail mix), a couple of big plastic garbage bags, a good flashlight and spare batteries, first aid kit–you know the drill.. When winter showed up, my father’s entrenching tool and a 50-pound bag of sand moved into the trunk of the car as well.

    When my parents moved to Mississippi after my father retired, people thought she was quite odd: “Why, you could live out of your car if you had to!”

    I find that people who don’t have to cope often with the effects of weather extremes, or who don’t drive long distances through areas without basic services like gas and food don’t think in terms of having these things on hand even when they do have to cope. The same applies to people who never take public transportation. They have no idea about the routes, and so don’t know if it’s an alternative for them, even if some walking will be needed at the end of the trip. .

    I know three distinct routes, each with variations, from my house to my job. Many people only know the one they always use, and couldn’t come up with another if their lives depended on it.

  67. 67
  68. 68
    JPL says:

    @pcpablo: MARTA was great and I plan on using it more often. I really wish they would expand service to Roswell but the teabaggers said no.

  69. 69
    raven says:

    @Another Holocene Human: It’s also pissing off some black folks in neighborhoods that are gentrifying.

  70. 70
    raven says:

    @JPL: This stuff about blaming it on Reed leaves out the fact that he was just elected and shit head is up on the ballot soon.

  71. 71

    The sprawl in Atlanta is something else. Who is taking the blame for the traffic mess?

  72. 72
    scav says:

    @BGinCHI: Seems to be a basic denial of driving on specific surfaces is a possible district skill separable from general politeness in driving under different circumstances. Many Chicago freeway drivers are certifiable under normal circs and I’m not sure I’ve seen a credible zipper merge since forever.

  73. 73
    JPL says:

    @raven: The city said they planned on trash pickup today so I tried to get my trash out. The garage door was frozen shut. I had a lot of ice blocks fall and melt on the garage floor. They melted and flowed under the door. This was the first time, that I actually had blocks of ice fall from the car. I hadn’t seen that since I lived in the north.

    also.. shit head will get reelected.

  74. 74
    Gex says:

    At some point, the South is going to have to start maybe allocating resources to deal with emergencies like this OR they are going to have to get better at calling things off prior to the snow hitting. Rare ≠ never. My feeling is that these “rare” snowstorms are only going to become more frequent. This really shows why the “people know how to best spend their money” approach is not the way to decide taxation levels and policy. It doesn’t appear that the individual tax payer properly allocated resources to ameliorate this disaster. Government needs to handle this.

    The problem with maximal efficiency and cutting everything is that you don’t have spare resources for bursts in need. Government cannot and should not be run like a corporation. What would it cost an individual taxpayer to pay for actual snow removal capabilities in GA? $0.50 per year? Don’t spend your tax savings all in one place, people.

    *That said I do not want to crank on the people who are stuck in this. I’ll just hope that things like this start to get people thinking differently about government services.

  75. 75
    Cassidy says:

    @BGinCHI: convinced everyone is an asshole driver…except me. ;)

    Seriously, everyone’s a shitty driver.

  76. 76
    Nutella says:

    About MARTA:

    A young white woman who grew up in the Atlanta suburbs went to Chicago for a week on business. Wen asked for her impression of Chicago, the thing that struck her as most different was that there were white people on the subway there.

    That was 20 years ago and I expect ridership on MARTA hasn’t changed much.

  77. 77
    chopper says:

    the storm forecast that was off

    here is the warning the NWS put out at 3:30 AM the day of the storm:

    338 AM EST TUE JAN 28 2014

    338 AM EST TUE JAN 28 2014










    NWS sent briefings the day before and the morning of, warning city emergency managers of some shit. they basically ignored it.

  78. 78
    AliceBlue says:

    @Another Holocene Human:
    That is so cool! I didn’t know Atlanta was building a streetcar line.

  79. 79
    Mike E says:

    @Cassidy: Yep, and ice is a deal breaker. Our ice event in 2005 taught me not to fight it, driving my sled of a LeSabre that could take on all comers EXCEPT that mess.

    I remember picking up my daughter at the elementary school, uphill, fighting the icy street to finally just parking in the buses spot…got reprimanded over the PA but oh well, got her in quick order and headed to the supermarket to get supplies, made it okay and did a quick shop. Getting out of the parking lot, we saw the mother of all traffic jams snaking right up to my neighborhood, unbelievable, and I managed to sneak into the residential streets without breaking too many laws.

    No buses made it to the schools, and kids slept there with their teachers. That jam in my ‘hood took nearly 90 mins to resolve…they were going toward an overpass. All this from 1/2″ of ice. NC got hammered by that. Atlanta got way more than that this time.

  80. 80
    atlliberal says:

    @Another Holocene Human: There are almost as many Red Sox fans in Atlanta as there are Braves fans. You’ll be fine once all the ice melts!

  81. 81
    whetstone says:

    As a southerner who has been stationed up North and the Midwest, I just want to say you guys don’t know a fucking thing about driving in inclement weather.

    This. I’m a Southerner living in Chicago. Chicago drivers tailgate like [redacted] in snowstorms. They drive badly downtown; they drive badly in the suburbs. It’s near-freezing with blowing wet snow–leave a couple car lengths. I can’t prove this, but I firmly believe Chicagoans drive more aggressively when conditions are bad.

  82. 82
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: can’t let this pass… if you don’t walk much walking even a little bit is going to warm you up like a radiator, guaranteed

    if it’s snow, we’re talking 32F, not an unsafe temperature for a walking human, assuming your shoes don’t get soaked. Now that is a risk.

    20s, windchill, run

    Below 20F, get a fucking coat

  83. 83
    EthylEster says:

    Bizarre weather happens. When it does, IMO there is not much that can be done except to alert people that bizarre weather is probably about to happen.

    Unfortunately many humans cannot or will not imagine exactly how bad it can be to be in your car when bizarre weather happens. I don’t think there is much a politician can do about this.

  84. 84
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Steve in the ATL:

    2. A huge part of the traffic mess was jackknifed tractor trailers, not clueless Dixie drivers.

    Shit like this is gonna happen when you:

    a) run a coordinated, multi decade campaign to break the truck driver’s union
    b) allow corrupt state governors to allow “truck driving schools” to certify their own “graduates” with CDLs instead of having a strict, transparent, bribe-free, independent government process to guard the gates

    The rest is “free enterprise” at work–trucking firms that don’t pay shit and penalize drivers for being even a little bit late with their loads, desperate poor rural folks that take a job that looks like a leg up and slavishly do whatever it takes to make that money in between evading staties and other cops.

    Jack-knifed trucks. Aka when friction failed. A professional driver who controlled the terms of her employment would not be pushing like that.

  85. 85
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    I dunno…Friend of mine who lives in Atlanta (proper) claims that the surface streets got salted before the storm hit, so there were very few problems there. The freeways are GDOT’s responsibility.

    Let me translate: Cobb County and their fellow assholes will blame the Mayor of Atlanta, while Atlanta residents will shrug and once again vote in a blah at election time, angering and confusing Cobb County.

  86. 86
    dww44 says:

    @Aspasia: I’m not sure where your data is from, but I live 85 miles south of the ATL and we haven’t been above freezing since Tuesday when the snowing started. We are just now creeping over 32 degrees. I don’t believe people there were walking thru 5 miles of snow with warmer than freezing temp, unless that is from today since about 10 a.m. perhaps?

    @AliceBlue: Well, the weather forecasts that I saw had it sorta the opposite. We were going to get the heavier stuff here 80 miles directly South of the city and they were going to get less. It was post midday Monday, when I saw a weather forecast that included the entire Atlanta metro region. Prior to that it was going to be from here southwards, with the focus on ice at and near the coast. Ice, of course, is always more problematic than snow.

    And, DPM, I think you’re analysis is pretty much on target, It’s the inability of the region to think beyond cars and concrete.

    Also, I applaud Kasim Reed for getting all over the teevee and taking the grilling. This morning on MSNBC and/or CNN he pointed out that his city’s streets were clear and that he has no control over the Interstates.

    Have we seen our governor do that? No, he wants to blame the NWS down the road in Peachtree City. Yes their forecast did change, but DOT was caught flatfooted and had positioned their road clearing apparatus south. Limited resources and all that, you know.

  87. 87
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Rich Webb: Reed has an easy way out. Post giant wayside billboards alongside the arteries out of the city (esp from direction of the governmental complex):



  88. 88
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    As I said in an earlier thread, Atlanta’s a fragile metropolis: any journey between two points in the sprawl can take an extra hour in the best of conditions because of traffic or accidents or both. There was a point somewhere along the way where the metro region would have benefitted from some proper regional governance, but there was never sufficient trust to do it.

  89. 89
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @raven: So? Are they supposed to be left behind or forced out once again?

    Good old capitalism, if you do something to improve your neighborhood, your betters will step in and take it and toss you out on your ass.

    Standing athwart progress and yelling “Stop!” is obviously not a winning strategy but why shouldn’t they attempt to get concessions before their community is broken up household by household and exiled to exurban hell?

  90. 90
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Cassidy: Keep telling yourself that.

    If all the drivers you encounter on the road “act crazy” around your vehicle, um, er, how do I put this?

    Maybe it’s you.

  91. 91
    Another Holocene Human says:

    @Nutella: Sorry to burst your bubble, then. While the buses are still pretty heavy on the melanin, MARTA ridership is quite mixed these days.

    Talented tenth to the right of me, race traitors to the left.

  92. 92
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Rich Webb:

    It’s looking like Mayor Reed is going to be the designated fall guy for this.

    Only if the emm-ess-emm is being astonishingly stupid. (CNN, being based in the ATL, ought to know better at least.) Plenty of the people who got stuck never put a wheel within the Atlanta city limits.

  93. 93
    Paul in KY says:

    @Rob in CT: Agree. Go slow, but keep moving at all cost & do everything gently.

  94. 94
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @NorthLeft12: Most southerners don’t own serious cold weather gear. There was a lot of mocking about cancelling schools because of the wind chill a couple of weeks ago. My question then was “Why would you expect people to buy expensive winter gear every year, sometimes twice a year during the worst growth spurts, when we don’t have weather like this every year? The only people here who have that sort of gear ready to go are the well-off who can afford to go skiing.”

  95. 95
    Cassidy says:

    @Another Holocene Human: Sure, because driving 5 over in the middle or right lane and leaving about 100 feet between me and he next car is a sign of my horribleness.

    Um, err, how do I put this, maybe you have no clue what you’re talking about.

  96. 96
    Karen in GA says:

    @JPL: I checked the NWS. There was a warning on Monday morning for central and southern Georgia, and Atlanta was under a watch. I had a bad feeling about it, so I took my laptop home from work. Monday afternoon the NWS moved the warning area north to just south of Atlanta, and changed Atlanta’s watch to a winter weather advisory. I knew Tuesday would be a problem on Monday afternoon — they kept moving the predicted storm farther north.

    And the text of the advisory specifically said they might upgrade it to a warning. On Monday afternoon.

    From what I understand, they changed it to a warning at around 3:30 a.m. I woke up at 7:30, checked the forecast, and the NWS was saying the warning was effective at 9 a.m., with snow expected to start “mid-morning.”

    I knew Deal was an ass, but wow.

    ETA: Or you could just read Chopper’s comment at 77 above, where he (she?) posted the text of the warning.

  97. 97
    maurinsky says:

    Here in New England, people complain when they cancel school because of predicted snow. I think GA should have closed down based on what was being predicted.

  98. 98
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @raven: Good point.

  99. 99
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    *That said I do not want to crank on the people who are stuck in this. I’ll just hope that things like this start to get people thinking differently about government services.

    Thank you for that (and I, personally, wasn’t even out, but I know lots of people who had many very scary hours on Tuesday and into Wednesday).

    The problem — one of the problems, at least — is that today’s combination of inadequate infrastructure and a spaghetti bowl of competing jurisdictions goes back to decisions made decades ago. I can’t remember now, or quickly find, the reference to a piece in Politico that lays it out, but it really is the best analysis I’ve read so far, and worth taking a look at.

  100. 100
    Keith G says:

    It seems like a very simple conclusion. Political leaders screwed up. they were cowards. They had ample warning that something bad was *probably* going to happen. The idea of *probably* paralyzed them. Here in Houston we had a lesser degree of forecast danger. Nonetheless, thanks to the intelligence of county, city, and school leaders, people were able to stay home and be safe. In Atlanta, the mayor, the county leadership, and school leaders deserve all the crap they are going to catch over this.

  101. 101
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Here’s the link. Apologies to those of you who don’t want to give Politico the clicks, but Rebecca Burns’ article is one of the best analyses I’ve yet seen, and provides some needed historical and demographic context.

  102. 102
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Who is taking the blame for the traffic mess?

    Here’s your answer right here. BOTH SIDES!!

  103. 103
    Southern Goth says:

    What the greater Metro Atlanta area needs is some sort of equivalent of a Port Authority to deal with regional transportation problems since that would totally solve the problem of what happens when the governor is corrupt, malicious, and/or a dumbass.

  104. 104
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    “Why would you expect people to buy expensive winter gear every year, sometimes twice a year during the worst growth spurts, when we don’t have weather like this every year? The only people here who have that sort of gear ready to go are the well-off who can afford to go skiing.”

    Buy a few sizes larger. Kids will grow into ’em. I didn’t grow up poor, and I don’t remember anyone who wore a new winter coat every year. Also, too: Layer. One doesn’t require some super-insulated, rated to -40 degree coat when the temperature is between 20-30 degrees. You can wear something relatively light over a couple of sweaters.

  105. 105
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Southern Goth:

    What the greater Metro Atlanta area needs is some sort of equivalent of a Port Authority to deal with regional transportation problems

    That’s what MARTA was meant to be, and should have been, but the outlying counties wouldn’t sign up because of the clear and present danger of Those People using public transportation to steal your lawn tractor and your TV and all the white women.

  106. 106
    Johnnybuck says:

    Raw Deal and the DOT deserve all the blame for the condition of the interstates, but School Superintendents across the region deserve a heaping shovel full of the blame as well. They should have closed the schools tuesday. Hell, it was obvious that we were going to get some accumulation during the day and that the temperature was not going to get above freezing.

  107. 107
    Steve in the ATL says:

    the problem of what happens when the governor is corrupt, malicious, and/or a dumbass.

    Georgia elects the worst governors I’ve ever seen. The only one who wasn’t an embarrassment to the state was Roy Barnes, who lasted one term.

  108. 108
    tybee says:


    the guvna is properly referred to as “shady”.

  109. 109
    Johnnybuck says:

    @Steve in the ATL: I’d argue that Zell Miller was a pretty good Governor who became an embarrassment as a US Senator.

  110. 110
    Southern Goth says:

    @Johnnybuck: I heard that Carter guy made a name for himself.

  111. 111
    Steve in the ATL says:

    I was still in Memphis when carter was governor, but from joe frank Harris forward it’s been bad. What did zell do besides the lottery?

  112. 112
    Johnnybuck says:

    What did zell do besides the lottery?

    well, that was kind of a big deal actually

  113. 113
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again):

    One doesn’t require some super-insulated, rated to -40 degree coat when the temperature is between 20-30 degrees.

    Plus wind chill. I think the wind chill was approaching single digits that day. A hoodie plus sweaters isn’t going to do much against the wind.

    My point is that all those things that people in the north take out of storage and/or buy during the back-to-school frenzy? We don’t buy them as a matter of routine. We don’t have the thermals to layer under lined clothes; we don’t even have lined jeans available in the stores. I know a lot of people who don’t even own watch caps. You say ‘sweater’, I think ‘twin set’. Or maybe a Mr. Rogers cardigan. Gonna take a lot of those.

  114. 114
    Steve in the ATL says:

    I have a bunch of sweaters I rarely wear, and a cashmere topcoat I’ve worn maybe twice. It just doesn’t get or stay that cold here. My only real exposure is when I’m walking my dog at night.

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