So here's what happened: it started snowing at around noon yesterday. This is rare in Atlanta - it only happens once or twice about every other year or so. But when it started yesterday, all of the schools, public and private, decided to all close at once, sending large numbers of school buses out on the streets and calling for parents to come pick up their kids. At the same time, most businesses closed and sent their employees home. So between about 12 noon and 1:30, a sizable percentage of Atlanta's 4,717,397 residents all got off at about the same time, and since Atlanta is grossly underserved by public transportation, all those vehicles on the road caused a massive traffic jam. That's bad enough, but while they were out there, the snow got worse and then turned to slush and eventually to ice. And while everyone was stuck in gridlock, the salt trucks couldn't de-ice the roads or get back to their storage bins, so the ice got worse and worse until short trips turned into epic, hours-long journeys and some folks decided to ditch their cars altogether and just walk, leaving their abandoned cars in traffic. They couldn't get very far due to the cold, and since the suburbs are often a good 10 to 15 miles away from downtown a lot of people wound up sleeping in the aisles of all-night drug stores and supermarkets, and a number of children and staff spent the night at the schools because there was too much ice on the roads for the buses to safely take them home and too much traffic for their parents to come and get them. According to the Georgia DOT, there were about 940 automobile accidents, and one woman gave birth in a car stranded on I-285 (mother and child are reportedly doing fine).
Silence in the middle of traffic
Men's heads explode in Beirut
Men's hearts explode in the zendo
Who's going to pick up the pieces?
Your finger's on the detonator button.
-Philip Whalen, Silence in the Middle of Traffic
Typically, Georgia Republicans chose to blame Democratic Mayor Kasim Reed for the lack of preparation, and Georgia Democrats chose to blame Republican Governor Nathan Deal for the gridlock. Weatherman Al Roker blames both.
|Traffic cam shot about 1 mile from my home.|
|Children stranded overnight at E. Rivers Elementary, about 2 miles from my home.|
|Folks overnighting at a Publix Supermarket (picture from Atlantic.com)|
I work from home, so my commute went fine - from the kitchen to the study and back again, and I had stocked up on groceries on Monday afternoon (unlike our Governor and Mayor, I saw this one coming). My driveway, though, has turned into a steep sheet of ice, and I'm not about to attempt a slide down it until it warms up a little, and the forecast high for today is only 31 degrees. It's supposed to warm up over the coming week, though, and I can take consolation that by Sunday the temperatures are expected to get into the low 60s.