#EPIC FAIL: 2 inches of snow, 18 hours of gridlock, thousands of Atlantans stranded

How a region of 6 million was paralyzed by a storm predicted days ago


We all know that Atlantans can’t cope with snow, and we’re generally quick to defend ourselves from critical Yankees who don’t understand that you can’t stockpile salt and plows for flakes that fall with less frequency than the Spider-Man franchise gets another reboot. But the gridlock that started at noon yesterday and is continuing into this morning can’t be blamed on Southern climate. (Gov. Deal: We’ll get to your “unexpected storm” comments shortly.) This fiasco provides brutal evidence of metro Atlanta’s tragic lack of transit planning (or transit options for that matter) and staggering leadership vacuum.

How did a region of 6 million become paralyzed by 2 inches of snow?

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  • jim

    the “2 inches of snow” doesn’t really represent what it was. when we get snow in the south, it is just ice on the roads. compare the ski slopes in north carolina with the ones in vermont. that’s the difference. snow, ice. looks pretty on the ground here. solid ice on the roads.

    • Aline

      It is ICE on the road everywhere else where condensed precipitation reaches below freezing temps and accumulates at 2 inches or less. We had 3 inches overnight Tuesday night in Maryland, life WENT ON. Quit creating excuses for your state’s inadequacy.

      • A

        Please stop being so self righteous and thinking that your state is immune from natural disasters. This is NOT the North and quit pretending that it is.

        Let me ask you the following: do you know how to prepare for a typhoon? It may seem like a dumb question but its also similar to the “why didn’t they do…”or “state does…” really just quit it with the I- know-everything attitude, because you don’t.

        Jim is right. We hardly get hard snow/ice here and when we do it can get bad. We only get stuff like this is 1940,1972,1982,1993 and 2011.Let me ask you ‘ol wise one: would you buy lots of snow equipment for snow that rarely happens that way? I wouldn’t and neither would you.
        It would be incredibly stupid for the state of Georgia to spend money on equipment that may be rarely used. I will give the state that much credit. If there is something that we don’t need a lot of we don’t get it.Simple as that. That would be a lot of money wasted .

        Its not the snow that did it,it was the ICE that it became after the nonstop snow that came. Let’s be honest here, Southerners can’t deal with ice and you probably cant.Maybe you should or to Siberia and try to drive in their icy conditions

      • Really?

        One would think that I’m sad for what Georgia. After all, we just went through one of the biggest Ice Jams in history. I should be but I’m not.

        For all of the negativity that the world is dishing out on Atlanta,it can be counteracted by the positives and how the people of Atlanta did for those people stranded.A big shout out to them.

        Now to the Ice storm.For your info, the people of city know how to deal with snow. C’mon now, do you think that if it was snow alone that we could navigate driving conditions. I’ve seen people drive through the Blizzard of 1993 in a foot of snow ,but we were dealing with ice..ice..ice not snow. How do you confuse the two. Let’s be honest here, if Maryland snow/ice storm just consisted of mostly ice you ,northerner,Southerner or anybody else wouldn’t be able to cope with it. I’ve known Northerners like you to boast and brag about their impeccable driving skills in the ice,only to see their cars slip and slide on the ice. Maybe you should go Siberia. Maybe they have some icy roads to test your driving skills in the ice.The natives may say the same about you…lol!

        Let me ask you a question: are you prepared for an earthquake? It may sound crazy but there is a prediction that one can take place in New York and the East Coast.
        I’m from Georgia and I don’t even prepare on a regular/yearly basis for it because it just haven’t happened on a wide scale like California (though some microscopic ones have occurred several years) and if you dare say you have ,then I really know that you’re not telling the truth. If I’m not mistaken, a couple of years ago Maryland had tornadoes.Did you expect that? Its rare that they have them.

        Were not the North and please quit pretending that we are. It would be incredibly stupid for the state government to purchase equipment that as we rarely use. Miami and Los Angeles had snow(I believe in 1987) Did you know that most of the states was exposed to snow, including the state of Hawaii? In Miami and LA it only happened once. Should they go out and get snow equipment because of it.?No,they shouldn’t. In comparison to them,Georgia get it a little more than they do.Sometimes, we have snow, sometimes we don’t and its rare for us to have winter emergencies. The years that we had them was in 1940,1972,1982,1993 and 2011. That should tell you something right there .

        Folks like you act like this is a daily occurance when it isn’t. Most times when snow hit, the state have always did the right thing in closing, schools, businesses to keep people, even when it snowed. Difference being that this snow was nonstop,turned into ice, and the schools letting kids out too late (in some districts) and parents trying to get them. Because of it,it was jammed. This is not the daily protocol so please spare the I know it all attitude on someone else because you don’t know all of the story behind this .

        I hope that you can be so wise to predict a bad storm and I hope that your words won’t bite you in the butt. You never know if the State of Georgia may have to be your testimony.

  • Brian


    Alline, stop talking like you have a clue what you’re saying. I have live in eastern Ohio, Colorado and in the South (Texas). Unlike you apparently, I have experienced freezing precipitation in both regions. It is INDEED different. The temperatures in more northern climates is colder. The ground gets colder and stays colder, so when snow hits, it stays snow. There may be isolated places where snow melts/refreezes immediately at the beginning of a storm. Down south, the temperatures stay above freezing most of the time in winter, and usually drop only a few hours before a snow storm. The result is, the ground is not cold/not below freezing. Snow melts slightly and refreezes from the beginning resulting in solid sheets of ice everywhere. It’s very different from what I’ve PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED LIVING in colder climates vs what happens down south.

    • Shelly

      Brian, I live in MN. Snow melts on our roads every day. Then it refreezes when the sun goes down. It does not stay snow. Exhaust from tailpipes and the sun melts it even on days below freezing. We drive on that every day, and we also drive all the time on black ice. We have a lot to deal with on our roads and have our share of accidents too, but people drive differently in the north because we’re used to it. We drive on ice all the time. Trucks put down sand and salt for traction every day, several times a day. Now we have chemical mixtures that go down on the roads creating slippery slush. It’s treacherous but somehow we manage it, in large part by staying put and not driving when the road conditions are very bad. That’s usually something the weather channels predict.

  • Gre

    Deceitful headline. I grew up in upstate New York with massive snowstorms. Ice is different– only takes a half inch to make driving impossible without spikes (which are outlawed). So knockoff the stereotype of southern drivers.

    Your citizens-drivers did as well as could be expected, probably better with no fights, many acts of kindness.. government goofed up without a plan for the interstates, trucks, and dismissal/closure of schools and workforces.

  • shellyl

    I don’t know whose fault the gridlock was, but Atlantans should be proud there was no road rage and no violence. People acted like grownups and helped each other. My husband was stuck in the traffic jam for over 8 hours and he said no one really drives slow enough there for the road conditions (he’s from MN) but there was no fighting, just people helping each other. That is a positive to be proud of, despite the hardship of the whole ordeal for everyone.

    • A

      Agreed. That is impressive. Thankfully, the death toll didn’t exceed much higher than it did. I’m also thankful of the people helping out others during their time of need. They didn’t have to do it but they did.

  • Eric

    I believe one of the editor’s of this magazine explained the true problem with Atlanta’s inability to deal with traffic & weather and most know it but are afraid to acknowledge it but the simple fact is there are too many cars that are forced to utilize the highway system in this region, and no regional mass transit alternative to take people out of their cars and ultimately cars off the road. Traffic has, is and will continue to be bad going forward until this “region” changes its stance on a single, regional solution I.e, monorail which extends west to Carroll county, and east thru Social Circle, North to Chattanooga and South through Macon, feeding multiple points in between. Toll roads, lanes and HOV lanes are not the answer – you need to give the people in this region a viable alternative and get them out of their cars – please!!!!!

  • http://www.hubbplumbing.com Hubb

    I don’t think we should call it Snowapocalypse, the problem was the ice and traffic hitting the streets in a matter of minutes. We don’t have a great and expansive public transportation system like other big cities.

    There was such an outpouring of kindness that my faith in humanity bumped up a few notches.

  • http://www.atlantamagazine.com/agenda/2014/01/29/epic-fail-2-inches-of-snow-18-hours-of-gridlock-thousands-of-atlantans-stranded Anon

    I was in the storm, and I can say the whole entire thing happened because people didn’t use common sense about their own city. Everyone in ATL knows the freeway is a jammed mayhem mess every day, but they all just jumped on in anyway. Not only that, but the drivers are some of the worst, deliberately not using turn signals on a calm day to miff fellow drivers. Then, these people go to work and act like your never courteous enough to them ever. In Atlanta, it’s always these kind of paradoxes. This storm just is the southern ‘way of how we do things here’ and nothing ever changes with the attitude.