Rare snow storm leaves thousands of motorists stranded on Georgia highways

January 30, 2014ATLANTA, Ga.It was just a few inches of snow, but for the normally balmy South, enough of it fell to throw life into turmoil for millions of people from Louisiana to Virginia on Wednesday, trapping Atlanta motorists overnight on highways and forcing hundreds of children to camp overnight at school. Some of the worst disruptions were in Georgia, where schoolchildren were marooned on buses or stayed overnight in classrooms or gyms. Some workers in downtown Atlanta slept in their offices, and many traffic-trapped motorists simply trudged home in the cold. More than 1,000 accidents were reported. State troopers rescued stranded motorists, and National Guard troops made food deliveries. Social media erupted with parents incensed that they were forced to drive through the storm to retrieve their children. Emergency crews were still rescuing some motorists Wednesday morning. Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., were virtually shut down. Workers who hoped to rush home at midday Tuesday to beat the snow instead created traffic gridlock just as the storm was hitting. Parents frantically drove to schools and buses and struggled to get children safely home. Atlanta reported nearly 800 traffic accidents, and Georgia state police logged nearly 1,400 wrecks, with at least one person reported dead and at least 130 injured. Stranded motorists pleaded for help in cell phone calls. Governors in North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Louisiana declared states of emergency. In Sandy Springs, Ga., just north of Atlanta, an expectant father and a local police officer helped a mother deliver a baby inside a car on Interstate 285 around 5 p.m. Tuesday after the couple was unable to make it to a hospital through clogged traffic. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that the mother and baby Grace were doing fine after paramedics took the family to the hospital.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said state National Guard troops had been sent to highways to try to move stranded school buses. Georgia state troopers were dispatched to schools to help retrieve students who had spent the night, he said. A Guard spokesman said troops handed out military Meals Ready To Eat, or MREs, to motorists and provided water to a stranded family to make formula for a baby. By mid-morning, Atlanta school officials said all schoolchildren were “in a safe place,” either under care at schools or at refuges as fire stations to await transport home. But that barely cooled tempers on social media, where parents blasted school officials for not canceling classes as soon as forecasters predicted the storm. “I want heads [to roll] tomorrow,” one parent posted on the Facebook site for the DeKalb County School District in Georgia. He complained that his wife still had not returned home by midnight after fighting her way through snow and traffic to try to retrieve the couple’s child from school. “I shudder to think of the lawsuits if any students, faculty or parents are seriously hurt or even killed because you were so foolish as to ignore weather reports and not cancel school,” another parent wrote on the site. On Instagram, a Georgia parent wrote, “My baby [was] stuck at school, because Marietta High School was crazy and did not let school out early!” Atlanta city officials had assured the public that they had learned the harsh lessons of a 2011 ice storm that paralyzed the city. “Atlanta, we are ready for the snow,” Mayor Kasim Reed posted on his Twitter account Tuesday. But by Wednesday morning, Reed’s Twitter messages sought to reassure angry residents that the city was working hard to plow roads and get everyone home safely: “We know you want to get home, and we are going to work all day until you can return safely.” Reed said “a lot of people” were still stranded on highways Wednesday morning, but he was not certain how many. City bus service was shut down, and people waited in vain on icy train platforms for trains that were late or never arrived. –LA Times
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11 Responses to Rare snow storm leaves thousands of motorists stranded on Georgia highways

  1. Irene C says:

    Unlike many Northerners, I was not laughing or ridiculing these people. What many seem to forget is that there was ice underneath that snow and Atlanta has a lot of hills. That’s a bad combination. They are not prepared, either mentally or with their infrastructure, for this kind of event. It’s like many of us being prepared for an earthquake. However, there were storm warnings out in plenty of time, and many (not all) of the powers-to-be chose not to listen. When they did decide to close the schools and businesses, they did so all at the same time, causing a major traffic problem. I’ve driven through Atlanta several times and it’s not fun even on a good day. Prayers for these people.

    FYI – there’s another winter storm on its way.


    • Loraine Ridge says:

      This was a forecasted weather event. Why weren’t more people taking it seriously ? This is the second really bad winter for the northeast states and seems to be creeping further south with the colder conditions. Alvin, do you think that we are coming into a mini ice age in northern hemisphere ?


  2. val says:

    Parents should not blame the school officials when they ultimately should have kept their own children safe. I have kept my kids home when I thought “they” should cancel school, and yet they still had school, only to close early. Too bad the money for kids attending school takes priority over their safety. It happens in the north too. Seems like all the advertisements from the government telling people to have emergency backpacks with 3 day supplies has fallen on deaf ears. Nothing ever happens here…. How much effort is it to throw some supplies in your trunk? Sorry if this sounds harsh but, people need to wake up and pay attention, stop waiting for someone to tell you what to do, what to eat, what to wear, etc etc. Make some decisions for yourselves. I feel bad that so many are going to perish when TSHTF. Praise for the good Samaritans that gave out water and food. They will not always be there


  3. Jay says:

    I guess these people failed to realize they could of simply A) stayed home from work and B) kept the kids home from school. People forget to think outside the box and just follow along blindly.

    Actions equal consequences, if they knew a storm was coming they should have taken precautions and made their own decisions instead of letting others do it for them (with failed results).
    Hopefully some learned a lesson instead of blaming others for what they themselves didn’t do.


  4. MarkJS says:

    Not surprised. Been to many cities in the US and Canada, and found Atlanta to be the worst traffic-wise, event without inclement weather. 20 miles from city-center, the 2-lane (one lane each direction) roads were crammed. They had hardly any roads that were bigger than two lanes, and the ones that were bigger were jammed with cars.

    All you need is one person at the front who doesn’t know to get off the road because they can’t drive, and refuses to acknowledge it to themselves- to mess it up for everyone else behind them.


  5. Dorothy says:

    People lack the experience of dealing with this type of weather event. We have become to comfortable in our routine lives to do little more than expect our government to be there to take care of us in our time of need. I’ve read similar articles of weather events all over the world. The Philippine people did not evacuate and they knew a storm was coming. The people of Haiti are still living in tents and waiting for someone else to FIX their miserable lives. When we as a civilization start accepting responsibility for our own survival we may have a chance to actually do so. Weather events happen and they are often extremely inconvenient. Remember Hurricane Sandy. They were warned and didn’t listen. Alvin says more will come. And folks aren’t listening. We need to ask “what if” and take measures accordingly.


  6. niebo says:

    There are reports all over YOUtube that the snow in Atlanta and Virginia is NOT melting when lighted on fire. See for yourself:



    • Joseph Sonny Skies says:

      Hi niebo! An ice cube the same size as a cube of snow has well over 100X the amount of water content! Especially a dry cold snow like what was shown. The water content of the snow was so small that most of it evaporated as heated. [ remember that between each crystal of ice is air.]The cube had way too much water to have all of it evaporate under heat. That is the only difference.


  7. Joseph Sonny Skies says:

    A similar event happened recently around Philadelphia PA. and southern N.J. when snow started during morning rush hour to quickly accumulate and roads got icy EVERYONE decided to shut down and go home. Gridlock for a couple of hours and bus routes being cancelled, many road accidents, some with fatalities. The reasons why it did not become another Atlanta was because the roads had been processed for winter weather from previous storms and we are nothing but roads out here so alternate routes are usually viable unless you are on a limited access highway.
    Two things I want to comment on… #1..why do schools and businesses decide to shut down JUST as the storm is beginning to PEAK in intensity instead of before or waiting until the worst has passed!!!! #2 When school children are being unexpectedly let out of school for weather conditions, many parents are anywhere but home! They need to be at their jobs so school becomes as much a baby sitter as anything else each day but since workers are ” punished” if they miss too many of these days, what worker wants to enhance the chance of being done with?


    • Deirdre says:

      May I chime in? I am from Chattanooga TN. (For some reason we didn’t make the news). The day before this storm, our skies were plastered with chem trails. We have had very low (unusual) temps for this area for days now. ( I am originally from Cleveland Ohio, so I understand very well the Lake Erie effect on the city and know plenty about snow.) With that said, there needs be understanding. 1. They shut schools down if they “think” there is snow. Always! 2. They said there was an arctic blast coming/colder temps. 3. They said snow would by pass us. So school was not cancelled. When it started at 9am, it was light. I didn’t think anything about going out and running a quick errand. At 10am on my way back from errand, I hear on the radio that the super announced that all parents should come and get their kids as quickly as possible that the buses would not run. I live 15 min. from my house. I did not get home until 7pm!! This ‘unusual’ snow, quickly turned to ice everywhere. The city/state did not pre sand/salt any roads. Accidents were everywhere. Cleveland is flat. Chattanooga is a series of hills and mountains. I live on the side of a ridge. By the time I made it to the road that goes up the ridge, four cars had already wiped out making it impossible for me to go up. I parked my car and proceeded to walk up the ridge in 17 degree weather. I understand what Jay is saying, but I was thinking! This was a combination platter disaster. Not one thing or person can be blamed. But it does show that our leaders who have more info than we do, and should have taken precaution (even if they thought the snow part would bypass us), have some serious elements missing from their leadership. I learned a lot of valuable lessons all the way around. I saw good people doing great things, and saw some spoiled selfish people doing pathetic things.
      Thanks and peace,


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