Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

Snow in the South

I try to write posts that are positive, not negative, but the “light snow shuts down Atlanta” articles are starting to get to me. Let me explain a bit about how Atlanta got to the point of twelve-hour commutes yesterday.

Everyone went to work and sent their kids to school Tuesday morning. I know, it sounds crazy. Atlanta sometimes gets snow once a year, and all the meteorologists said it was passing south of us. Combined with the need to go to work, keep a job, make rent payments, and abide by laws regarding school attendance for children, acting like it was a normal weekday sounds absurd. (Trust me, families would have loved to stay home yesterday.)

By Sergio Caridad

By Sergio Caridad

Government offices, schools, and local businesses did not close down until 1PM, and when they did close, it was all at the same time. It had already been snowing in my part of Atlanta for two hours by then. I was very lucky that my company sent me home as soon as it started snowing. Something about be being in my last few weeks of pregnancy, and I better not have the baby in the office. I dunno.

So, everyone got on the road at the same time heading in the same direction… away from the city. No one lives in downtown Atlanta. Everyone commutes into town every day. Roads were already getting slushy, and hills were becoming suspiciously slick. Atlanta has a lack of infrastructure regarding winter weather conditions. When there are limited snow plows and salt trucks to service the highways, there is nothing available for surface roads. Even a couple of inches of snow can become dangerous when left untreated.

Here’s some pretty crazy pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Highways became congested and surface roads froze up as the afternoon wore on. School buses trying to get children home safe became stuck, and people abandoned their cars and started walking. By the time it was dark, people had to make a choice between forging ahead or seeking shelter for the night. Over eight hundred children were snowed in at their schools overnight. One father walked six miles to spend the night with his daughter at her elementary school.

SnowglobeThankfully, I had made it home with my preschooler Sweetpea and my aforementioned Thing Two. Another woman was not so lucky and delivered her baby on 285 by her husband and a police officer. Bless the poor woman and her family.

There is nowhere to go and nothing to do about it. This was not a lack of preparation by individuals (except for the ones that ran out of gas). This was a city dealing with a situation that was almost as unprecedented as the zombie apocalypse. We’ve had snow before, but it usually rolls in overnight so parents aren’t at work and kids aren’t school when the city closes down. This is a matter of poor timing and poor decision-making by our leadership.

Here’s hoping the National Guard can help dig us out today so Atlanta can get back to being awesome by tomorrow.

8 comments on “Snow in the South

  1. Kate Sparkes
    January 29, 2014

    That’s insane. Glad you and yours are safe, but I feel so sorry for that poor woman who didn’t make it to the hospital.

    I’m definitely not making fun of Atlanta for this– it sounds like what would happen if a volcano erupted here or something.

    • tracycembor
      January 29, 2014

      There are a lot of stories about people being decent to each other, which is really great to hear. I feel like we are at least showcasing the South’s southern hospitality even if our driving skills are called into question.

      It would be easier if it was a volcano or an earthquake. At least we wouldn’t have to endure the “Didn’t you see it coming?” questions. ;)

      But don’t worry, ATL will remember! When the zombie apocalypse comes and you want your vaccine from the CDC, gee, too bad, we just ran out. :P Hope you like eating brains for dinner seven nights a week.

  2. catsgeesonexaminer
    January 29, 2014

    I understand the plight of people living in the south of the U.S. when it comes to snow. Any amount puts city governments, schools and businesses into a frenzy of mass confusion. The reason for this is simple. Little, if any “snow preparedness” is done because little is needed. As you say, it only snows once in a blue moon in Atlanta, and many other -places in the south.

    So it is a “big deal” when it does snow, and most people don’t know how to deal with it, especially when it comes to driving in the snow and sleet. Especially treacherous is the icy conditions on the roads, and ice is dangerous.

  3. Heather Lee Mills
    January 30, 2014

    Yeah, I don’t think many of us “Northernfolk” realize that a place like Atlanta doesn’t have the equipment or infrastructure to handle a snowstorm like that. People don’t have winter tires, don’t usually have snow-driving experience, and the city doesn’t have the snow equipment to deal with this sort of thing. Add to it the time of day and how Atlanta is a commuter city (another thing not everyone realizes) and you’ve got a real mess on your hands.

    Glad you got back safely!

  4. L. Palmer
    January 30, 2014

    Glad you made it safe. It definitely makes for an adventure.

  5. evanatiello
    January 31, 2014

    Yikes! that sounds insane. Glad you made it home safely. Your story reminds me of a book I used to read my kids when they were young called The Blizzard. It’s a fabulous story about a boy who is celebrating his 10th birthday and thinks his birthday is ruined because of the storm, but when his school teacher realizes the kids will not make it home because of the blizzard, the entire class has to walk together to the closest house to the school…you can guess the rest. My kids would love to imagine what would happen if their whole class had to sleep at our house, who would sleep where?! …Spring, where are you?!?!

  6. Pingback: The Distractions of Writing | tracycembor

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January 2014
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Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

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About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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