FlyerTalk Members Stranded in Atlanta Due to Weather

This image of Interstate 285 south of Cobb Parkway at 12:15 in the afternoon on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 shows all three elements contributing to the transportation woes in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area: icy roads, abandoned cars, and traffic at a standstill. Photograph courtesy of the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Due to the abysmal lack of response by state and local authorities to a winter storm, FlyerTalk members report being stranded in the Atlanta metropolitan area until further notice…

…and it is not because of flight delays and cancellations — of which there have already been thousands nationwide due to the winter storm — but rather because of highways clogged with cars abandoned due to severe gridlock conditions and ice on the roadways throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area yesterday, which means that FlyerTalk members either cannot get to the international airport in Atlanta or are wondering if they will be able to catch their flights

…and politicians have been raked by the media and by citizens in general due to the poor response.

FlyerTalk members have been scrambling to find lodging both in and out of the airport, which was already a problem at both Hilton hotel properties and Marriott hotel properties due to conventions which were supposed to occur this week.

Meanwhile, FlyerTalk member RealHJ reported of waiting seven hours for aircraft to be deiced at the international airport which serves Atlanta — and if you were actually able to leave the international airport in Atlanta, returning to your car might have been impossible.

Officials of city, county and state governments in Georgia were caught off-guard by the weather forecasts, which predicted that a winter storm would primarily affect areas south of Atlanta — but the storm dumped between one and five inches of snow on the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. The decision to keep schools, government offices and businesses opened yesterday led to all three entities releasing students and employees at approximately the same time, leading to congestion on primary, secondary and tertiary roadways so severe that it caused unimaginable gridlock.

A state of emergency was declared by Nathan Deal — the governor of Georgia — late yesterday afternoon.

Government officials countered that the decision to shut schools, businesses and roadways on a whim because an event such as this was possible would have been irresponsible; and therefore they would have been chastised for denying businesses from engaging in commerce for the day — resulting in a potential loss of millions of dollars — and closing schools when they could have been open.

In other words, being a government official for this particular event is a no-win situation. Do you agree?

Ironically, millions of dollars have already been lost in the state and local economies anyway — and hundreds of vehicles still litter the highways. Hundreds of children were forced to stay overnight in schools because they could not get home; while others arrive home many hours later.

For those people who were actually able to reach their destinations, as many as twelve hours were spent getting to them. Some commutes which would have normally taken minutes took many hours.

Fortunately for FlyerTalk members, the freezing temperatures will not last too long in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area. The high temperature will reach 42 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday, January 30, 2014 and keep rising every day through the weekend, when the high temperature is expected to reach 63 degrees Fahrenheit…

…and each day will be sunny, helping to melt the ice and snow in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Hopefully, government officials will have learned some hard lessons to prevent this disaster from happening again in the future…

Comments (Showing 14 of 14)

  • not2017 at 5:58pm January 29, 2014

    Everyone I know who lives or has lived in Atlanta, raves about how great a place it is to live…..I guess not on January 28, 2014!

  • cvarming at 6:40pm January 29, 2014

    1 to 5 inches… I guess they are not prepared for any kind of snow.

    • Brian Cohen at 7:04pm January 29, 2014

      To be fair, cvarming, it was not the snow itself that was the problem. Ice was the real culprit; but it was hiding underneath the snow.

      The high temperature on January 27, 2014 — the day before the winter storm arrived in Atlanta — was 60 degrees Fahrenheit. That means that the ground was still warm enough to melt the snow when it reached the ground; but then it froze as ice under the snow which piled up on top of that due to the freezing cold. That led to slippery conditions for motorists — and the terrain in much of the Atlanta area is hilly.

      That — as well as too many people converging on the roadways at once to leave work or school early and inconsiderate motorists who were growing increasingly frustrated — is what led to the gridlock which virtually paralyzed the Atlanta metropolitan area.

  • zerolife at 7:29pm January 29, 2014

    Yes they weren’t prepared because Atlanta rarely if ever get a snowstorm like this. Why should the state spend tens of thousends of dollar every year to stock up on salt and have the equipments on stand-by for something that happens maybe every 50 or 100 years?

  • SomeGuy at 7:33pm January 29, 2014

    I spent about 49 hours in ATL trying to get out of there. The biggest problem with the roads was that everyone was trying to drive like they would on a summer day, not being able to adjust to the new conditions.

  • bigbuy at 4:00am January 30, 2014

    Brian
    In your response to cvarming, thanks for explaining the situation. Almost none of the media has said which you just stated which has led to the Atlanta are being kind of a laughing stock with folks from the north laughing at us because of a little snow. Never mind that Atlanta is overrun with Yankees who were unable to drive in this stuff and also stranded. It is the ICE, HILLS, abundance of trees which provide shade to keep the ice from melting, and a lack of equipment that led to the problem. No one should expect the governments to spend large amounts of money for a once every ten years event.

  • Analise at 4:41am January 30, 2014

    Atlanta and Georgia look completely inept. Someone said a snow event happens once every 10 years down there. No, it snowed in 201; 5 inches fell. Since they had no plows, the people were stuck for days.

    3 years later, a mere 2.6″ fell on Atlanta as the weather reports predicted and gave notice of winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings according to CNN. For such a small snow fall, what was needed was salt to be spread on the streets and highways beforehand to melt the snow and ice. That the city and state again did nothing having learned nothing from just 3 years ago.

    Time to elect some northerners who know how to prepare for snow & ice so this never happens again. This storm was expected and the current politicians did nothing.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/01/29/snowstorm-travel-disruption-south/5010845/

  • Analise at 4:42am January 30, 2014

    ****The above had a typos******

    Atlanta and Georgia look completely inept. Someone said a snow event happens once every 10 years down there. No, it snowed in 2011; 5 inches fell. Since they had no plows, the people were stuck for days.

    3 years later, a mere 2.6″ fell on Atlanta as the weather reports predicted and gave notice of winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings according to CNN. For such a small snow fall, what was needed was salt to be spread on the streets and highways beforehand to melt the snow and ice. That the city and state again did nothing having learned nothing from just 3 years ago.

    Time to elect some northerners who know how to prepare for snow & ice so this never happens again. This storm was expected and the current politicians did nothing.
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2014/01/29/snowstorm-travel-disruption-south/5010845/

  • Points Surfer at 9:04am January 30, 2014

    From a wintery Toronto Canada perspective…..even when they know its coming here they don’t always manage it well either. Equipment going out “in” rush hour not before, assumptions on when and how much snow or ice, drivers who do not have the equipment or skills to drive in “normal” winter conditions so yes the Expressway pin-ball happens other places too. Try driving from Canada to Florida with winter tires and people point fingers….until…the jet stream goes south for the winter then who’s crazy now …lol

    The smartest thing people in Atlanta did is stop moving…..ice works the same everywhere and when it happens on a massive scale staying put trumps 4WD and unless you have studded tires or chains there is not much anyone could do short of declaring martial law 24 hours before the event. Not a lot Large cities can do for random exceptions….the Public has to take responsibility too and driving when the forecast was known to become bad, in an area known for minimal winter highway equipment, is like driving into a tornadic storm cell…bad news waiting to happen.

  • eajusa at 1:50pm January 30, 2014

    After reading this, can anyone question the value of the airline clubs? Last July my American Airlines flight out of LaGuardia was diverted to JFK for a quick fix. I went straight to the Admiral’s Club to get lunch to go and comfortably call family to let them know I was delayed. When I was stuck in St. Louis the day a Southwest jet crashed at LaGuardia,, Admiral’s Club did everything they could to help me get home as soon as possible and find accommodations for the night without having to pay, as the next flight out was the following day. The next morning LaGuardia was still behind after the crash. American flew me to Chicago. The Admiral’s Club at O’Hare gave me breakfast at a reasonable price and a place to nap until my flight was finally ready.

  • mayodave at 5:37pm January 30, 2014

    seems more like a case of not being able t organise a beer party in a brewery.

  • bigbuy at 2:43am January 31, 2014

    “analise”
    Regarding your statement “time to elect some northerners who know how to prepare for snow and ice so this never happens again”
    THE MAYOR OF ATLANTA IS A NORTHERNER!!!!!!
    Mayor Kasim Reed is from Plainfield, New Jersey.
    ROFLMAO

  • tom_MN at 6:29am January 31, 2014

    Thanks for the info on the origin of the ice. I have experienced too many snowfalls to count and have never seen 3 inches of snow leave an ice sheet like that unless it falls on warm ground or is preceded by freezing rain, so wondered what caused it.

    I will say that there is too much talk about hills in Atlanta being some special case, since freeways rarely have inclines steep enough to cause cars to be unable to drive on glare ice. An additional factor must be average driver ability to negotiate low traction situations. A person can drive (slowly) in a safe manner on glare ice.

    The money lost from a city shutdown would surely more than pay for a few machines to at least salt a few lanes on the major freeways and roads when these situations arise.

    • Brian Cohen at 10:02am January 31, 2014

      That is a good point about the hills in Atlanta pertaining to the highways, tom_MN, and you may be correct about that — but there are a number of secondary and tertiary roads in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area which do have inclines steeper than the standards to which the construction of highways must conform; and there was gridlock on those roads as well as the highways.

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