Last week, we in the Southeast experienced a weather week for the record books. Many people in the Northern states were snickering after seeing Atlanta become completely debilitated over 2 to 3 inches of snow….that wasn’t just snow, but ICE! Atlanta is just now recovering from the worst snow/ice storm I have experienced since my family moved to Atlanta in 1963, when I was 6 years old. We’ve never seen anything like this before here in the South, where we don’t usually get winter weather of this magnitude. But, we got it this time and when I started posting pics on my Facebook page, quickly found out that lot of folks in the northern part of our country thought this was really funny and were poking fun at the South and our inability to drive in 2” of snow. What I thought was sharing weather pics and updates, quickly became a lot of back and forth dialogue between Southerners and Northerners, and who could deal with what. The South was becoming the butt of jokes all across the country. But, luckily most folks were compassionate and caring, so thank you!
It did get a little tiresome hearing how we can’t handle snow down here and what wusses we all are. We, in the South, know that the North has horrific weather with snow and ice to a much BIGGER degree than we could ever imagine, BUT you all have the equipment and know how to deal with all of that in your cities. We do not. So, you Northern folks win the worst weather situations and knowing how to get out there and drive in it. Kudos to you. We Southerners, however, live in the South for a reason!
But, of course, the story is not just about 2” of snow, as was first reported with gales of laughter, but a blanket of ice all over the roads that we weren’t prepared for nor do we have the equipment to deal with this type of winter weather. Add that to the fact that metro Atlanta has over 6 million residents, with a million of them leaving the downtown area at the same time that schools all over the metro Atlanta area were letting school out, trying to get the kids home….and well, you’ve got yourself a HUGE epic disaster that no one could have predicted.
Fingers have been pointed for days over whose fault it is, but really it’s a combination of errors and problem solving that our state just wasn’t equipped to handle and stop before it happened. From the Governor’s chair, to the Atlanta mayor, down to the Georgia Emergency director, to the various school officials, it was a horrible tragedy of timing that probably could have been lessened, but most likely not completely avoided because of the rapid way this storm moved in and covered the roads in such a short time. My friends in Alabama experienced much of the same as we did here in Georgia.
All of these next 6 pics, I took with my iphone along the 2 days I was stranded away from my house. I thought you all would enjoy seeing it from someone who lives here.
We were ALL affected in one way or another. I left home that Tuesday morning to meet a friend of mine for lunch. And that’s what it looked like when I left my house (above).
What we thought would be catching up over lunch, turned into much more. She lives about 5 miles from me and we were meeting up at a local sandwich shop, where I know the owners, Bob and Cindy with Great Harvest Bread Co. It had already begun to snow when I left around 11:15 that morning. None of us thought much of it as we had been hearing “dusting of snow” for the last couple of days, but nothing could prepare any of us for what would happen next.
My friend, Lori, called and told me that she was on her way, but that school was letting out and that her kids would be home shortly with a neighbor, so why didn’t we pick up our lunch and head to her house a mile away for a short visit and then I would head home? Fine, sounded like a good idea. And I thought staying only an hour should be fine, surely I could get home after that, the 4 short miles back to my house. We got to her house just after 12 and caught up and visited for about an hour, all the while watching the snow fall outside. We could see it was starting to stick to the roads, but still didn’t think it was that bad. I got in my car and headed out, driving back past the sandwich shop to the 2 lane road that leads back to my neighborhood. In between are at least 2 schools, all letting out about now as well as folks leaving work and trying to get home. The road I was on was already icing over and I started watching people slip and slide their way down the street. I was at the bottom of the hill below the sandwich shop at this point and began to think that I maybe should get off the road and into a safe place.
I could envision myself getting further down the road and not being able to get up a hill (we have LOTS of hills around here!) and perhaps getting stranded on the side of the road, a proposition I didn’t want to think about. So, I called Cindy and Bob at the Great Harvest sandwich shop to be sure they were still there and turned my car around at the bottom of the hill and slowly inched and slid my way back to the parking lot at their shopping center.
This is the hill I came up to get to the shopping center. It had been filled with traffic, but I guess many people were able to get out of there. I went in there and stayed for a couple of hours, as several folks walked in to take shelter. Some of them had been driving and realized the futility of trying to get further down the road, so were pulling off and leaving their cars, taking to foot and trying to find shelter. The store stayed open for a few hours, giving out food and drinks to those coming in, a mother and her children and several more people trying to get home to safety. After 2 hours, I realized that I wasn’t about to get back in my car and attempt to drive home, the roads were already covered in a thick sheet of ice as temps continued to drop. With our hills in Atlanta, it’s impossible to navigate with ice covering them. There’s just no way! And yes, we aren’t all used to driving in ice and snow either, so that multiples the hazards when so many folks are on the road at the same time, driving and sliding into one another or worse, a pole or ditch. We can’t handle winter weather, that’s for sure, but it’s not because we are stupid and can’t drive in a little snow. It’s compounded by the ice that always forms on the roads here in Georgia when this winter precipitation comes down so rapidly as it did last Tuesday. It blanketed the roads in a mere 2 hours, shutting down the city like nothing we’ve seen before.
I texted my friend, Lori, and told her I was coming back to her house, since she had already told me to do that if I needed to. So, I got on my coat and gloves and at least I had boots on, so walked the 1 mile back to her house on foot. It wasn’t bad at all and I carried my umbrella to keep the snow off my hair, which would then just make me colder. I’m definitely not made for the frozen tundra and am so grateful that I do live in the South, where this snow storm stuff doesn’t happen that often. This is in front of White Rabbit on Due West Road, for those of you in the area.
I stayed at my friends house for 2 nights, just to be sure those backroads leading back to my house were passable and they were 48 hours later. She was a wonderful hostess, feeding me and giving me a place to sleep and a hot shower. We had dinner with her neighbor both nights (their kids are fast friends), with food put together and everyone being fed. I was so happy to get back home to my house, because there truly is no place like home. I was glued to my iphone and Lori’s ipad and the local news all day Wednesday, watching the roads and what those in Atlanta faced on that Tuesday last week as the roads in Atlanta became impassable from the ice and snow and multitudes of cars on the road at the same time. So many folks were stranded on the roads for 5 to 24 hours, trying to get home to safety, trying to get their loved ones home safely. It was a dire situation and very scary for many people! I was one of the fortunate ones and parked my car in a safe spot, walked to a friends house where I had a warm house, food to eat, and a bed to sleep in. So, I didn’t have it bad at all, like so many other Atlantans. I feel for those who had to abandon their cars to get out of the freezing temps that Tuesday. Many cars were still being claimed 2 days later, abandoned on the sides of the road. We finally got above freezing weather on Friday and Saturday and the sun does the best job of melting this stuff, thank goodness!
There’s no place like HOME!
I found all of these shots on 11 Alive news and these depict what we all dealt with for 2 days last week. Of course, Tuesday was when it all came down and that began the horrible journey of everyone trying to get home at the same time.
Atlanta has lots of hills and when you add 2 inches of ice on those hills, well, you can imagine the disaster waiting to happen. We simple don’t have enough salt and sand trucks to handle something like this. And it happens on average of once every 10 years, so we tend to forget how bad it can be. This one will stick with us for a long, long while, you can be sure of that.
This is what happens when everyone working downtown tries to leave the city at the same time. All roads leading out of the city are jammed while those going in are empty.
This shows how fast the snow/ice fell and covered our streets. This is all within a 2 to 3 hour period. And who would dream that it would cover roads so thoroughly that had days before seen high temps? We just aren’t used to this stuff sticking when the temps have been higher.
No, this is not powdery snow, it’s already freezing to about 2” thick all over the roads. A solid sheet of ice and snow on top.
This pic has to be when it started thawing on Wednesday, showing all the cars trying to get up this hill on Tuesday night, but not making it. I know just where this intersection is in Marietta.
I just wanted to document this storm, since we surely don’t get them very often and I wanted to recount my own experience and talk about what Atlanta endured. This one was hard hitting and I daresay, if there is even a threat of wintery weather again, most folks will stay home and not venture out. We’ve had wolf cried about weather so many times and that’s why we were all unprepared and didn’t really heed the warnings. Last I heard, even though it was predicted as coming, at first it was supposed to hit south of Atlanta and the weather updates that this storm was indeed going to hit the metro Atlanta area happened around 3:30 a.m on Tuesday morning. That was sufficient time for the powers that be to move and direct, but it simply didn’t happen and there wasn’t a statewide plan for the storm. With all of the jurisdictions in and around Atlanta, it’s almost impossible for one entity to make decisions that will affect everyone. Businesses and counties are going to do what they feel necessary and all of that affects everyone, from downtown Atlanta to each county surrounding Atlanta. I’m afraid this could all happen again, unless things are changed around here.
We’ve had other disastrous storms over the years. Who could forget the horrors of January 1982, when again a storm hit just around Noon, sending everyone home from work and school, again cars abandoned and folks stranded all over the city. I found a website devoted to sharing stories and pics of Snowjam 82. Those of us who lived here back then remember it well, it was talked about for years. Back then though, we didn’t have the population we do now. There were much less cars on the road then, so when you add more people and cars to the mix, the disaster multiples ten fold. We had other storms in 1993 and 2011 as well, the year I moved back here. I remember being stranded in the house back in 1993, for about 3 days, with power outages, but not the massive stranding that happened this time around.
So, this post is really just to document my experiences and thoughts on this. I know this is nothing compared to what other parts of our country experience with winter weather (and believe me we feel for you and there’s a reason we all live in the South!). But, we in the South simply are not prepared physically and mentally for this type of thing. Atlanta pulled together in some mighty big ways during this storm and a local woman, Michelle Sollicito, started a Facebook group trying to help those stranded and in need, which quickly grew to over 50,000. That Facebook group got national attention after the worst of the storm had passed, as folks stepped up, helping get those stranded to safe places, passed out food/drinks, and many people were helped due to this social media group. That’s the good thing about something like this happening now. Back in 1982, we all didn’t have cell phones even, much less social media to help spread the word. Atlanta has been on the national news this week due to our weather situation, but I wanted to say how proud I am of this city, with normal folks pulling together and helping people as much as possible. That’s a wonderful thing to see in a city this size, the community pulling together to help. Many people opened their homes to strangers and helped with medical emergencies. There was a baby born on the highway when they couldn’t get to the hospital.
So, even though Atlanta is not a city well prepared for emergencies like this, we survived and made it through one of the worst storms we’ve ever been through. Life gets back to normal and I for one, am thankful that we don’t have to endure weather conditions like this very often. But, when we do, we are survivors and we make it!
Here’s hoping too that our government officials will somehow come together and brainstorm ways to ensure that nothing of this magnitude ever happens again. I’m afraid that this city is just not able to handle winter storms like this and yes, it could happen again. Every decade has seen some version of this. It was a horrific site as stranded people and cars littered the interstates and backroads of our city and surrounding areas. The laughter that began as others around the country guffawed at the South and our inability to handle 2” of snow, was dying down as those images were broadcast over the internet and on national TV. My Southern Hospitality Facebook group was mostly supportive and kind as I shared all of the above pics that I took with my iphone as I lived them, so thank you for that, even though it turned into a North/South commenting session that first day. We are all happy to be getting back to normal, with the sunshine out strong the last 2 days melting the ice and snow back to nothing again.
Today is a beautiful sunny day in the 60’s, which is amazing when we had temps in the teens just days ago and a mess on our hands. That’s the South for you, ever changing weather forecasts!
This is not something I would normally write about, but it really profoundly affected this city and I wanted to document it here on my blog while it’s a fresh topic, so that I can come back and read it 10 years from now. It’s been interesting to read all the stories that I’m seeing online on how everyone fared in this storm. I was one of the very fortunate ones, stranded in a really good place. So many others endured freezing weather, walking miles to get to shelter.
Here’s to Spring! I personally will really be savoring that season this year!
Jean from Georgia says
Hi Rhoda, Our Tuesday Birthday lunch was cancelled because we Georgia girls did not want to drive in that fast freezing snow storm. Loved your photos, and also love to shop at the White Rabbit shown in one of your photos. Thanks for posting beautiful photos.
Thank you for this personal view of the recent storm, so glad you are safe and able to return home, also happy your parents are safe – you know they are celebrities to all you many faithful readers. We all fell in love with them during you home remodel. Again, thank you for sharing remold with pictures and details of each project, got so many good ideas from this. My 22 year old grandson and his friend were also stranded in the snow/ice storm. He related to us of his experience – cars on road were spinning trying to drive over ice, could not drive on the ice. He saw many law enforcement assisting people when possible, making them feel safer even if they could not drive. He saw people with snow chains on wheels still spinning on ice. His main comments were about the people they encountered during storm. He relates how impressed he was with everyone for trying to help each other. Hunter and his fried tried to assist others, and many people tied to help them. One thing about Southerns, we are always willing to help someone in need. Hunter also relates how they were able to walk about 1 mile to reach a Target store, where they were given blanket and pillow, and allowed to spend the night in Target store, along with many other people. I will always be thankful to Target for taking care of my grandson during this storm. He has safely return to his home in Augusta, Ga with some good memories of kind Southerners!
Ann Marie from New Jersey says
Rhoda, I apologize on behalf of all those Northerners giving you grief! I completely empathize and understand the difficulties and dangers that ice can cause. Please don’t let a few bad apples give a bad name to us who live in the Northeast. Glad you and your family made it through safely and now have some very beautiful pictures to share. I LOVE your blog and inspiring story. You’ve come a long way, baby! 🙂
I was always taught that the one of the utmost rules of manners was never to point out another person’s rudeness. Certainly never attempt to publicly chastise a person.
On a blog called Southern Hospitality, I find it appalling to see the author spending an entire post complaining about the south was made fun of by Northerners. This post is petty and lacks class.
Bringing up Facebook insults? Really? This is a professional blog, not the place for nonsense like that. Deal with Facebook offenses on Facebook, don’t bring it here.
This post could have easily been a “documentation” of a storm and your adventures being stranded away from home without all the repeated complaints about what people said on your facebook page or how insulted you are by Northerners.
Michelle Ross says
I was born and raised in and around Syracuse, NY. I am most grateful to live in beautiful Alabama. My point is this regardless of how much equipment they have in the northeast, NO ONE CAN DRIVE ON ICE! Native southerners should not give it a second thought as to what northerners say; when it snows (rarely) in Alabama, I stay home. First, because I have that choice and second, because people born in the south don’t have, and for the most part, need the skill set for driving in snow. When I moved here I hadn’t the faintest idea about tornadoes, they scare the h**l out of me. I’ve never had anyone I’ve met down here ridicule me for my fear and inexperience. Trust me northerners would rather deal with a blizzard than a tornado. Hopefully, with each snow event (however rare) each city/state will learn better what to do to best deal with the situation. I dare say they will be quicker to cancel school the day before and if they cannot cancel work will at least stagger the release of those working. My advice for people who cannot stay home, carry drinks and non-perishable food, at least one blanket, cat litter or sand, a change of clothes, hat, scarves, gloves, extra cash, flashlight, cell phone charger. Think of it as your portable tornado kit only for possible snow! Most people in the northeast keep a bin or a backpack in the car with the dry goods (blanket and whatnot). We also carry extra windshield fluid, shovel, extra boots if you have them, baby wipes. Books, e-readers and chargers. You get the idea. Hopefully, we won’t have to deal with this again for a long time.
Hmmmm… interesting comments, but I see nothing on Global warming.. this winter is another cold one where I am. It was 9 this morning when I got up. And we have slick roads too.
thought for the day: Seems Al Gore is always silent at these times.
that is hard luck and you survived.. good thing it wasn’t your parents stuck like that. I live between cleveland and pittsburgh and had horrific driving experiences this past month, too, with the ice…so it goes and it melts…eventually!
I know what a little snow and ice can do in the South. We lived in Texas for 4 years and experienced it for ourselves. I am originally from the Buffalo NY area where they do have the equipment to handle it. We now live just north of Philadelphia and our area has a hard time dealing with the snow. School is cancelled with 2 inches. They just can’t get to it. I’m watching it snow right now! Anyway, glad all is well and know that a lot of us are just jealous!
Oh I definitely sympathize with you when it comes to geographical stereotypes; here in Northern California its the opposite problem! We get snow ( very wet heavy snow) and ice all winter long, but of course we can’t get away from the California stereotype, that only actually applies to the southern part of this big state! It truly is so so annoying lol! I guess its just a big lesson for everyone though to be more understanding of others.
Mary in Idaho says
It is snowing here as I write this comment. It is true we are used to the snow, however we greatly respect ICE and don’t venture out on icy roads. Thankful to hear you and your loved ones were all safe. May I say, I envy your sunshine and temps in the 60’s. Enjoy!
I live in Kansas where it’s usually ice-central during the winter. We throw a salt mix before any precipitation begins and it still doesn’t always work. Shame on anyone who thinks ice is something to scoff at!
Glad you were safe!
So glad you made it through your adventure safe and sound. I’m 63 years old and have lived in Michigan my whole life. I can tell you that we Northeners would not have been able to navigate those roads either! I can drive through 5 or 6 inches any day but icy roads are another matter. There have been a lot of accidents this winter in just the small area that I live in. I can’t imagine what we would do without our road crews with their salt and plows!
We had an ice storm in Charlotte years ago and I had the experience of driving on ice. I won’t be doing that again if I can help it. You hear some smugly say that people here don’t know how to drive in snow or that people are just driving too fast. Sometimes that may be true but I can attest to the fact that no matter how slow you might be going, if you are on ice, the car can take on a mind of it’s own and you don’t have a lot of control over where that vehicle ends up–I don’t care who you are!
Whenever there is even the chance of getting bad weather, the schools here let out early or close altogether. Often you hear complaints because it does seem a little silly to have the kids leave school early when there is not even a flake in the air. I think the situation that Atlanta faced is a lesson to us here of what can happen and hopefully we can appreciate more the steps the schools take to keep our kids safe.
Thanks for sharing your first hand account of the storm. I enjoy your blog and I’m glad you are ok!
meles Garrison says
Oh, that looks horriffic! I was born and raised in west Texas so we usually got ice when we had bad weather. Ice is not fun to deal with! I live in Oklahoma now and we do get quite a bit of snow, but not the ice (Thank God) Sometimes we get a little. I was however in a white out storm one time and it was very scary. Like you, I was not prepared and nothing was said about the snow storm on the news. I had to leave work as I had 20 miles to drive home and I was very low on gasoline. I decided to fill up when I reached the next town and when I got there, they closed their only gas station becuse of the weather conditions. I continued on until I completely stopped without my control. I did not know that my car did a complete spin from one side of the hwy to the opposite side and I was in the ditch and never felt it happen! I was very disoriented and couldn’t tell what had happened, but waited in the ditch trying to figure out where the lights were coming from. Everybody that was still driving (about 3 miles an hr) had me stumped bc I was so turned around. I knew my gas was low and I didn’t have a cell phone and was not dressed for drastic weather. I finally got deperate enough after praying a lot. I got out of the car and just walked out on the hwy and climbed up on the side step to an 18 wheeler. I met a “lady” truck driver! Thank You Lord!!! She insisted that I get in the truck with her and she took me back to the town I had worked so hard to leave earlier that evening. I tried calling home, but the phone was always busy because everybody was calling, trying to check on me. I got dropped off at a truck stop. The parents of a good friend came to get me. I will never forget that evening. Sorry if this was a boring story to you, but I tried to make a long ordeal go fast 😉 Glad you are safe and happy!
I’m so happy and grateful that you are ok!!! I think it’s rude to make fun of such an event. Of course the city wasn’t prepared…You’re in the South!!! It’s like when I phoned down to my relatives in Van Nuys, CA., they were having a cold spell and it was at 45o. I was born in Montreal, where winter is cold and I didn’t make fun of my relatives in CA. Why would I? When we saw on the news what you were going through, we worried about everyone, for their safety.
Being a diabetic, right away I worry if some needed food and was stranded. I couldn’t imagine what it felt like. We carry a kit in the car because you just don’t know what’s to come. And that lady who had the baby. That was scary!!! Thank goodness mom and baby are doing fine, but, in that cold of weather?
No, making fun of people’s inability to cope with things like a weather situation, is just plain ignorant and these ones need to grow up!!! I want to apologize to you for their behavior because this situation that you went through was very scary and real.
I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada. You would think that we are use to snow way up here, but, Vancouver gets so little snow, but, when it comes, there are accidents everywhere in the lower mainland. I don’t go out even if it’s there’s no snow on the ground. There is still ice and when there’s ice, there’s accidents. We have bad drivers as it is, mix that with icy conditions and watch out!!!
I’m happy that it has warmed up now, but, new lessons are learned from days like this and you’re right about the city officials getting together and talking about what to do so they are prepared for the next time this happens!!
Take care Rhoda and I want to repeat that I’m sooooo happy and grateful that you are safe and sound and survived without a dent in your car and you had a good friend close by that opened her house to you.
Have a great week…”Dorthy!!!!”
I know it must have been really scary for you. Glad your parents and you are all safe and sound. I think living in a snow state (Colorado) that I take for granted that everyone must know how to drive in the snow. I have a cousin who lives in Atlanta and I had to explain to her how to drive in snow/ice. I even said to her, “you grew up in Maryland driving in the snow, don’t you remember?” Just remember if it happens again, leave lots of room between you and the car in front. Don’t break in a curve, break before or after. Pump the breaks and if you start to slide release the break and stear out of the slide. Use lower gears if you can and finally, if going uphill make sure you keep a constant speed. As soon as you slow or stop, you are sliding backward and that is really scary! Again, I am glad you are safe and hopefully this next shot of winter hitting us tomorrow will bypass you and it will only be rain, no more snow! Keep safe and warm. Victoria
Marisa Franca says
Shame on anyone who would snicker at anyone else’s tragedy. For that matter why would Atlanta buy equipment such as for snow removal when you get that kind of weather in a coon’s age. The equipment would not have done anything for the ice. I am so sorry so many had to suffer. I’m glad to hear that you are safe as well as your folks. Hope spring is right around the corner.
I’m so, so glad you are safe and sound. I was impressed at how you just went with the flow and waited out the storm til you could get home. You’re always such an example of grace under pressure.
I can relate to being a bit frustrated at being made fun of for “not being able to handle driving in the snow.”
Houston experienced snow and ice, more ice than anything and just like Atlanta, we’re just not equipped to handle those kinds of road conditions. Houston is a huge city with lots of highways and overpasses that were covered in ice… it was hard not to feel defensive from being picked on so much, but if people aren’t from here it’s hard to explain.
Glad to be in good company where that’s concerned…and I’m glad you spoke up about it here on your blog.
And I’m with you, bring on Spring!
It’s sad that a bunch of grown women (some) would behave so badly towards one another, especially on a genteel decorating blog! Ice is no joke, what is funny about people having to risk their lives, whatever happened to caring and kindness? Was interesting to read your take on this Rhoda, glad you finally made it home. I know an aunt of mine in ATL was worried sick about her daughter, who did make it home safely also. What’s funny about that? Nothing!
I’ve lived in Wisconsin my entire life…nobody, no.body. can drive on ice. If we had studded tires, then yes, but since they are now illegal…no we can’t! I’m so thankful you and your family were safe. And like some body else said…it isn’t a North/South thing…it’s a mean thing. Spring can’t come soon enough as far as I’m concerned! 😉