Atlanta is cautiously preparing for the next winter storm that is threatening to hit northern Georgia on early Tuesday morning, and lasting until Thursday. There has recently been a state of emergency declared for 45 northern Georgia counties, and a winter storm watch is in effect for the area until Thursday. After the last batch of snow hit the city hard late last month on January 28, the citizens and the city of Atlanta are being extra cautious and prepared for the upcoming wintry conditions.
The last snow storm caught Atlanta by surprise, and it embarrassingly shut the city down for around three days after 2.6 inches of snow fell. A 32-member severe weather task force has been assigned since the last snowstorm to monitor storms like the upcoming threat. The Georgia DOT stated that they are properly prepared for the winter storms with ample amounts of rocks and salt. But the DOT has to wait for the wintry conditions to begin before they can properly treat the roads.
The response of snowstorms in the metro Atlanta area has been horrendous over the past couple storms. In 2011, an overnight snowstorm crippled the city for days, and the recent storm was very similar. The main difference between the two storms is that the 2013 storm started in the middle of the day, causing a panic. One Georgia resident expressed his frustration with the lackluster preparedness and if Georgia can overcome its problems: “I’m not counting on it. I’ve been in Georgia on and off for 20 years. It’s usually the same scenario, not enough preparations and not enough equipment.”
The metro Atlanta area has a 60-80 percent chance of freezing rain, sleet, and snow in the forecast on Tuesday and Wednesday. In Atlanta, travel will be dangerous beginning on early Tuesday morning all the way to Thursday. The forecast is one of the main reasons why Atlanta is being extra cautious as it prepares for the next winter storm knocking on the door. Another main reason why the city is being very careful is because of the handling of the last disastrous snowstorm that stuck in January.
Some citizens around the metro Atlanta area were in a panic on Monday in an attempt to prepare for the winter storm headed for the area. Panicked citizens crowded up grocery stores as many tried to properly prepare this time with enough supplies; several people were not prepared for the first winter storm of the season. By sunset, many grocery stores had run out of bread and milk.
With what began as a typical morning on Tuesday, January 28,turned into a free-for-all for many drivers who were stranded on the interstates and roads just after the snow began around lunchtime. Many employers let their employees leave once the snow began, which caused thousands of workers to basically all leave at once. This caused a major traffic jam that stranded thousands of motorists in the cold.
The initial reaction and handling of the previous snowstorm by city and state officials was heavily criticized. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Nathan Deal took much of the blame from angry citizens and members of the media. The handling of the January storm by school systems surrounding metro Atlanta were very frowned upon by local parents, also. Some children were trapped inside their school overnight with their brave teachers and, some children were trapped in traffic on their early bus ride home. Needless to say, almost all of the metro Atlanta schools are already closed for Tuesday and Wednesday.
The way the city handles the winter storm for the next few days in Atlanta are crucial to see if its leaders took enough positive steps towards cautiously and correctly preparing for the wintry conditions. There was not much time to prepare for another harsh storm (only two weeks), but hopefully enough steps were taken to prevent another icy disaster.
By Glen Parris