Snow Snafu: But storm brought out best, rather than worst
January 30, 2014 07:06 PM | 3808 views | 3 3 comments | 68 68 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“SNOWMAGEDDON,” “Snowpocalypse” or “SnowJam14” — call it what you like — is finally in the rear-view mirror now, leaving in its wake tens of thousands of stranded motorists, students and others and raising plenty of questions as to where the blame should be lain for the way Cobb and the rest of the metro area were so utterly blindsided. After all, two inches of snow should not — and usually does not — bring us to our knees the way this storm did.

In the real estate business, they say that location is everything. When it came to this week’s storm, it was its timing that proved so devastating. Unlike the notorious “Blizzard of ‘93,” which swooped in early on a Saturday morning, this one arrived at midday on a Tuesday when everyone was at work or school. Once authorities finally realized the storm’s gravity, they sent everyone home early. But that meant pouring hundreds of thousands of vehicles onto the roads virtually all at once. In essence, an entire rush-hour volume usually spread over several hours was trying to squeeze down the roads at the same time. The result should have been predictable — but for some reason, never occurred to those making the decisions.

The result was that many commuters spent four, six, eight, sometimes 10 or more hours getting home. Most eventually made it.

Some of those who didn’t were lucky enough to find shelter in motels or at the homes of friends and relatives. Others spent a frigid night behind the wheel of their vehicles. And tens of thousands of others in Cobb abandoned their vehicles and made their way home on foot.

Hundreds of schoolchildren around Marietta, Cobb and the metro area were forced to spend the night in their schools.

The only saving grace was that the snow was dry and powdery rather than wet and heavy, meaning that it did not weigh down branches and power lines and cause widespread power outages. Thus, nearly all metro Atlantans had a warm residence to come home to — if they could get there, that is.

The finger-pointing was quick in coming. Forecasters said they made clear well ahead that the metro area was under a Winter Storm Watch and then Warning. Officials rebutted that the forecasts tended to indicate that the worst of the weather would hit south of Atlanta. That in fact was the message seemingly absorbed by most Cobb residents. Nearly all of those we’ve heard from went to work on Tuesday as if it were just another day and were caught as flat-footed as the governor, Atlanta mayor and Cobb government and school officials once the seriousness of the situation became apparent.


COMFORT can be taken from the way our community responded to the storm — the many who volunteered their time and vehicles to rescue and deliver the stranded, who helped push stalled cars and those who opened their homes to friends and others for the night. The same goes for the stores and businesses that stayed open all night to house half-frozen travelers, and for the sold-out motels that let stranded travelers sleep in their lobbies.

And the heroic efforts by school principals and teachers and bus drivers to shepherd their stranded students must not go overlooked. That goes as well to the members of the community who rallied late into the evening to deliver blankets and other supplies to the schools, and who ferried home students to anxious parents.

In addition, it goes almost without saying that local police, fire and emergency personnel performed a Herculean task hour after hour, and did an admirable job of it despite tremendously trying conditions.

This is a storm that brought out the best in most people — when it very easily could have brought out the worst. But it’s the kind of response that those who know this community have come to expect.
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Not so shocking info
January 31, 2014
I saw this press release by Bill Byrne on the internet. Thought I would share it. My main concern is about the sale of the much needed snow removal equipment; although the other ideas are good, and makes sense. Someone needs to look into who sold the equipment,on what authority, who bought the equipment, and what is their relationship with Cobb County Manager David Hankerson. If what Byrne said is true about the equipment, and I believe it is, someone needs to go to jail.


After the failure to provide adequate service to Cobb County residents, during the storm crisis of 2011, Cobb County government sold all of their snow removable equipment with the justification of; “We never use the equipment.” The lack of leadership is a glaring reality in Cobb County. If Cobb County does not have the ability to respond to a “snow and ice” crisis, then the response plan should have been to rely on the private sector. Outsourcing the responsibility to contractors like C.W. Mathews, Baldwin Paving, Tippins Construction and Thompson Enterprises, ALL of which have the required equipment, employees and materials to address, IN ADVANCE of a projected storm, should have been placed on standby and prepared to respond immediately. The County could have defined, by commission district, a response team and “turn them loose.” The private sector needs the income and Cobb’s residents need the service and protection. The problem was not a “predicted storm”, the problem in Cobb County is poor leadership.



Bill Byrne

886 Lake Hollow Blvd

Marietta, Georgia
January 31, 2014
To be clear, it wasn't just that it happened on a weekday. Nor was it that more snow than expected fell. It was those two combined with its early arrival that did us in. Forecasts routinely declared that the expected "dusting, though it MIGHT be more" would arrive in the late afternoon or early evening.

According to the radar, it was snowing over Cobb LONG before traffic got tied up. The issue was that it was falling into extremely dry air, evaporating before it got to the ground. How long it would take to saturate the moisture of the air before making it to the ground was anybody's guess. AND, once it made it to the ground, how long would it take the ground heat to relent to allow it to stick? Again, it was anybody's guess. But even then, it would only be a dusting north of Atlanta, right?

The bottom line is this: In the Atlanta area, predicting snow is guesswork, even to professionals. Because of this, few put 100% confidence in snow forecasts.

Should pre-treatment have been done aggressively ahead of time? Probably. But hindsight is 20/20. Once everyone saw the snow sticking, they all hit the roads simultaneously. That's why I (and others) "enjoyed" over 6 hrs making a 30-minute commute.

Sometimes things just happen in a bad way. Rather than spending energy looking for someone else to blame, why don't we all just say, "Yeah, that was some bad weather and I wish I had left sooner to go get my kids out of school."? After all, if it were obvious that it was becoming treacherous out, shouldn't parents have realized it as well? When it comes right down to it, we ultimately are responsible for ourselves and our families, not government!
January 31, 2014
This has been somewhat obscured by the news coverage as Kasim Reed has (for reasons I do not comprehend) has decided to accept the blame as if he is A) the mayor of the entire region instead of just the mayor of a 450,000 population city out of 6 million and B) had responsibility for state-maintained roads even within his own city. But the reality is that for the most part, Atlanta's vital city roads were fine. (It was my own experience, and liberal writer Jay Bookman of the AJC pointed that out and no one challenged him.) 90% of the issues were in the suburbs, and what issues did exist in the city was because of the suburbanites trying to get through or out of the city and back to the suburbs. It was exacerbated by the fact that pretty much all the suburbanites only use the downtown connector instead of bothering to learn alternate routes (or even use their GPS to take an alternate route) because of unfounded fears that traveling on Atlanta's streets are unsafe (i.e. the allegedly "high crime" Turner Field area where no crimes actually take place).

SnowJam was almost entirely a suburban issue, but instead of pointing that out, the mayor chose to get into media battles with CNN and Al Roker. So the focus on him and Governor Deal (which was a raw deal, as state governors are not responsible for local traffic issues) are pretty much allowing the suburban city and county leaders (as well as the leaders of North Fulton, who want to break away into Milton County so badly) off the hook.

But it stinks how the suburbs view the Atlanta mayor as the leader of a tiny hamlet of less than a half of a million people that is albatross weighing the region down and should be ignored or undercut whenever possible when things are going well, but is the leader of the region with a responsibility to organize and coordinate things when things go bad. The same people - including this editorial page - who gleefully reminded everyone what a lightweight Reed and his city was during the T-SPLOST rejection and the Braves move should be saying that same story now. Because after all, the suburban roads were by far the most. The city of Atlanta streets weren't perfect, but were in much better condition.
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