Political and Meterologic Fallout on Atlanta


This weeks arctic blast seems to have produced more than ice and snow; the political fallout from this weeks arctic blast is nothing short of stoic. It seems everyone is pointing a finger (remember one pointed finger is also three fingers pointed back at the pointer) — the Mayor of Atlanta points at the National Weather Service; likewise the National Weather Service points a finger at the Mayor. So it goes: no one wishes to take the blame. But, blame needs to be assessed! Not to scold, nor to judge, but to better establish protocol for any future climactic calamity.

I’ll let my readers be the judge by reading some reports I wish to share (with permission, of course, I’m foremost a journalist , after all)

First I was taken back by what weatherman, Al Roker of NBC News had to say when posed the question “Did Atlanta’s Weather Warnings Come Early Enough?” His conclusion was a resounding yes they did, as he explained the timeline that Atlanta’s Mayor had to work with he concluded that indeed there was enough time to put in place adjustments to snow removal.


Quote: “NBC News’ Al Roker, examines the city’s winter weather timeline, concluding there was plenty of time to make adjustments for snow removal in Atlanta” 

The failure to put into place proper preventive measures is in my opinion, and I’m going on record, an act of negligence. Period. The nation is looking at 13, if not more, fatalities due to this negligence. Point fingers? I think it is better to accept blame that justly rests with the mayor’s office in the city of Atlanta. To criticize the National Weather Service, although slow to put out notice, did put out notice allowing enough time for the mayor of Atlanta to take proper action. 

“Freak Southern storm blamed for at least 13 deaths —- Thousands of students were stranded at schools in the Atlanta area.”

The headlines above should never have been written. I am sorry that they were. It was avoidable if action was taken in a timely manner. USA TODAY: a newspaper who is usually kinder than others published this article. I’ll let you read it in its entirety because doing otherwise is unjust to USA TODAY. I’m always curious as to what sidebars different news media chooses, these are the two that accompanied this article.

  • Arctic blast has left much of Atlanta paralyzed
  • National Weather Service criticized for its forecast

Now for the article: “ATLANTA — The arctic blast crippling much of the deep South has caused at least 13 deaths and created havoc for millions, prompting six states to declare emergencies and bringing criticism on the National Weather Service for its forecasting.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who mobilized the National Guard on Wednesday to rescue Atlanta-area motorists stranded on snarled, icebound freeways, blamed the state’s early response on the Weather Service, which predicted the chaotic storm would hit farther south.

Tuesday’s snowfall brought just 2.6 inches of snow to Atlanta, but it was a one-day record and enough to hamstring the region, creating nightmares for commuters, truckers, students and their families. Hundreds of flights were grounded at Hartsfield International Airport — the nation’s busiest.

Deal declared a state of emergency for Georgia. Similar declarations were issued for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, At least nine people died in traffic accidents, including five in Alabama, two in North Carolina and 1 in Florida. Four people, including a three-month-old infant, were killed early Tuesday in a Mississippi mobile home fire near Fulton caused by a faulty space heater.

Some commuters in the Atlanta metro area pleaded for help via cellphones while holed up in their cars; others gave up and trudged miles to their homes. Deal said there had been “significant progress” rescuing kids stranded at schools in counties around Atlanta, but at least 2,000 remained at schools in Atlanta, Fulton, Cobb and Douglas Counties.

Marshall Shepherd, a meteorologist with the University of Georgia and president of the American Meteorological Society, said neither meteorologists nor the forecast for the Atlanta area was to blame.

“The buses had a tough time getting kids home, but meteorologists should not be thrown under the bus,” he said.

At 3:39 a.m. Tuesday, Marshall said the weather service issued a winter storm warning for the entire Atlanta metro area, expecting 1-2 inches of snow. “Overall, the Atlanta event was a well-forecasted and well-warned event,” he said.

The weather service did say in an online briefing Tuesday morning, “Leave work early if you can to avoid the rush and wintry precipitation combination.” Drivers did so, which is what led to the traffic chaos.

Deal said the weather service “had continually had modeling showing Atlanta would not be the primary area (of the storm). It would be south of Atlanta.”

Politicians of weather-stricken cities and states often face harsh criticism for slow response to disasters. Deal, a Republican, faces re-election this year. He said his goal was to reach every stranded driver “and make sure we have enough shelter to get them off the roads and get them someplace warm.”

Along with Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is likely to face scrutiny in the coming days over the handling of the storm.”]

So, what do you think?

I’ll leave you with this: When a reporter in the Metro Atlanta area posts this on his page, whom clearly states of impending snow/ice issues I have to ask myself: Why didn’t the ‘powers-that-be’ in Atlanta take the approaching storm more seriously? I think we all should be asking this question. Hopefully someone higher up on the pecking chain than I will get some needed answers.

Image“WINTER STORM WARNING will take effect at 10 am tomorrow morning on the South side. Roughly along and south of I-20 in the metro Atlanta area. Still looking at the same amounts – Dusting to 1/2″ for the top end and points north. An inch or two for the warning area. Cold temperatures and slippery roads will be the biggest threats for most of the Metro area. Stay safe! – Aaron.”

Be safe! Preceded by words like slippery roads and biggest threats — you would think someone would have been paying closer attention to the approaching arctic storm.


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