Atlanta Snowjam 2014 January 28, 2014 10:02 PM   Subscribe

If you're a Mefite still stuck out in the nightmare of Atlanta Snow Jam 2014, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency has some suggestions as to what to do if you're trapped in your car overnight. Since most of the 65 mile circumference of the Perimeter is still jammed solid as of midnight — not to mention the other Interstates, arterial roads, and surface streets — it might be time to accept that you're not getting home tonight.

Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency and activated the Georgia National Guard to assist stranded motorists. Additionally, State Troopers are on their way to the schools where students unable to get home are sheltering from the storm. Flagship Atlanta television station WSB has a minute-by-minute update of news and conditions related to the storm, including the story of a baby was born on the side of the expressway.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a list of resources for stranded commuters, including a list of Home Depot stores open as emergency shelters across the Metro area. RaceTrac gas stations are offering free coffee and hot chocolate to anyone who visits one of their Georgia stores.

Conditions across the southeast are just as bad. Alabama blog has advice for what to do if you're stranded along with heartwarming Good Samaritan stories.

Also, just in case it needs to be said, "Don't get on Johnson Ferry. Seriously. Don't."
posted by ob1quixote to MetaFilter-Related at 10:02 PM (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

No snark, no "that's not so bad I'm from hurf durf snowy place", just a genuine question: given that the amount of snowfall appears to be a small amount compared to what might be shrugged off in a snow belt state, how did this develop into gridlock this extreme? If that's a derail, I'd be interested in MeMails or links to external sites that break it down.
posted by davejay at 10:09 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure this is actually Metafilter-related, so maybe it will get closed up when a mod sees it. But davejay, my girlfriend was recently telling me about a time a couple of years ago when the governor in the state where she lives issued a statement that there was a snow emergency, it was only going to get worse, and everybody should go home.

So they did. Or tried to. All at once. Traffic was backed up everywhere. Her usual half-hour commute took her something like four or five hours, not because of the snow so much as the traffic. I don't know of course, but I wonder if something like that happened here?
posted by not that girl at 10:18 PM on January 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have lived in extreme "snow country" (regular dumps of 3 feet overnight), and live in the only place (thank god) in Canada that gets no snow regularly.

There are a bunch of different factors, but fundamentally, if you are driving with "summer tires", even a couple of inches of snow are going to cause major, major problems. Cars just cannot move, people have accidents, compounding the gridlock, people slow down, exits to arteries get blocked...

Apparently Austin has been experiencing the same thing. I look at the photos of the "snow" on Facebook and wonder what the big deal is, but if you are not used to icy conditions all hell will break loose.

I hope everyone stays safe and warm!
posted by KokuRyu at 10:20 PM on January 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Basically what not that girl said.

Early forecasts showed the worst of the storm missing Fulton county. By the time those forecasts were updated, everyone was already at school or work or wherever else. Basically everyone in metro Atlanta closed at the same time.

Accidents and such exacerbated the problem, but I'm not sure it'd be any better of a situation even if all the snow had spontaneously disappeared at 3:30pm.
posted by toomuchpete at 10:21 PM on January 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, Atlanta has average commute distances that are way up there in terms of national average without many mass transit options for those in the outer suburbs... it's a metro area of 6+ million people where the city proper has ~500K people, and so many many people commute by car. Rush hours are always bad, but accidents from weather conditions, blocked intersections, and clogged shoulders breakdown lanes preventing emergency vehicle access has just created a mess.
posted by tjenks at 10:31 PM on January 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

The roadways in these states are also not made to be safe in those conditions, because they're so rare.

And we often have invested very little in enhancing aged infrastructure.

And there generally isn't the public works support to prevent events like this.

It boils down to being complicated, unfortunate, frustrating, and for those involved in these nightmare combinations of weather and traffic jam, terrifying.

I hope everyone gets home safely.
posted by batmonkey at 10:31 PM on January 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Yeah, if this is a thing that is likely to affect a lot of Mefites it's fine to talk about it here. But as things stand I think I'll close this, feel free to repost on the Blue.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 10:33 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

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