Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Post-Traffic Stress Disorder and other hazards of life in the 404.

As someone who organized her life around Atlanta traffic for years (live in town and work in the 'burbs, or work nights, kids! It's good for the blood pressure!) I looked at the pics coming out of my old stomping grounds and didn't notice anything amiss until I saw some of the vehicles were askew.

Kidding, of course, but the mid-day ice/snow storm is the big wintertime bogeyman down in Dixie. Growing up in Atlanta, all through my school years if flakes of snow began falling from the sky during the school day, we'd flock to the windows to see if the magic thing was happening: Is the snow sticking on pavement? Because if it was, we were going home early that day.

Never mind that this happened only once or twice in my k-12 career; hope sprang eternal in the schoolkid's heart. Luckily, we never had to spend the night at school...


Anonymous said...

It took me just over 8 hours to get home to Suwanee from the perimter area last night.

400 was surreal -- like from a weird movie.


wizardpc said...

At least they had the good sense to shelter the kids in place once they realized the mistake they made in actually having school at all that day.

We make fun of the Nashville schools for cancelling when snow is merely forecasted (because usually it's just flurries) but I am rethinking that position.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many folks just ran out of gas in the gridlock?


Chas Clifton said...

The kids "sheltering in place" will remember it like the Children's Blizzard of 1888.

Tom Slick said...

My ex-wife (with my children in tow) spent 2 hours to travel a mile, only to be told the road was closed, and then had to turn around and spend 2 hours to go back that mile and start over from scratch. It took her 7 hours to get home, a total distance of approx. 12 miles. The roads were insanely slick and the gridlock was epic.

st said...

This sort of thing happened once when I was a kid. Except, in Illinois, it was a case where an expected few inches turned into over a foot of snow in almost no time (along with some pretty good wind to make nice big drifts) and the school didn't realize it was happening until it was too late.

Bus service was canceled, and then the school doubled down on the stupid and started turning parents away, refusing to release their kids.

Needless to say, that didn't go over well.

My dad, not one to follow stupid rules, just walked in and picked us up anyway. There was really nothing the school could do (I'm sure it probably wouldn't fly today). He then went back and picked up the neighbor's kids, then another trip for Mom's friend's kids.

The rest of the kids were eventually released late that evening when the snow plows finally showed up.

Ah, good times.


Scott J said...

The problem over here in Birmingham is the snow fell as a fine powder that froze into glare ice as soon as it was driven on.

Adding to the gridlock were folks who just got out of their vehicles and left them in the travel lanes.

RevolverRob said...

Similar story in Austin yesterday.

The university didn't cancel class until almost noon. First they didn't delay it until nearly 8 am (when the first classes begin). So a portion of the student body was already there or stuck trying to get there. They delayed until noon and then about 11:30 (when people were running for their noon classes) they closed the whole thing.

A complete and utter cl├╝ster-fricken event if there ever was one. If it was sleeting/snowing/freezing raining all night and the temperature is 28 degrees and the city doesn't own a salt truck, close the damn place that employs 200,000 of the citizens in some capacity! 254 accidents occurred between 12am-12pm yesterday due to icy conditions, idiot drivers, etc. The gridlock that was generated as a result was amazing to watch on television, from the warm confines of my living room.


wheelgun said...

I have been in the South when snow hit. And while snow ice and hills are certainly nothing to screw around with, it would be good if everyone would take a "how to drive in snow and ice" class.

I have seen people slam on breaks (back in the day before anti-lock) and try to accelerate like they are at a drag race. It doesn't work that way.

Washingtonians were for a while getting a bonus check if they went to work whenever there was more than a quarter inch of snow. Maybe that was just DC way to pad the paycheck.

Around Cincinnati they are cancelling school because of COLD. Seems the EPA (or someone) decided that idling diesel engines all night was a bad thing. Of course without block heaters, you can't start them in the morning. (When did "no bus service" equal "no school?" What happened to walking barefoot through the snow uphill both ways?)

Fiftycal said...

Yah Rob. I was watching Austin teewee Tuesday morning and in the space of 30 minutes, it went from "slushy" to "ICE RINK". I think my boss was one of the people that got stuck on an overpass for about 4 hours til the ice melted. Another worker rolled his F150 on the 85 MPH tollway. Havn't heard the story yet, but I imagine he hit a patch of ice at speed and went wheels up.

Borepatch said...

The problem seems to have been that they sent the salt trucks out 2 hours too late. The storm was already starting, and a flood of panicked commuters caught the salt trucks in gridlock.

I pushed a woman up a hill last night. She'd picked her grandkids up from school (no doubt because their parents were caught in the jam). She's taken 6 hours to go from Alpharetta to Roswell, and was on her way to Marietta.

Gewehr98 said...

I always thought that Hotlanta was in the same longitude as most of the Eastern Time Zone. Imagine my surprise when I read this in the linked article:

"The sun will return on Thursday at 10 a.m."

Okeydokey. Good way to catch up on a little shut-eye, then!

Andy said...

I spent an hour on the road, made a mile and finally just pulled into a bar. Joined by 2 coworkers eventually, we hung out for 5 hours and walked back to the office. Slept there. Finally got home at 3 today.

If they had just called school at the start of the day, kids wouldn't have been a problem, traffic wouldn't have been such a disaster and the news would have been "Oh, cute, ATL dressed in white." Instead, at the end of my street is a pileup of abandoned cars that resembles the pattern of rocks left by the glacier.

No kidding.

And that's one scene out of 2 miles.

Old NFO said...

Yep, Atlanta, Birmingham and a bunch of others down in that region DIDN'T do it well...

treefroggy said...

Life in the 404 ?
Is that like ERROR 404 ; Road Not Found ?

Jim said...

The Hurricane Rita evacuation of Houston and surrounding areas was magnitudes of orders worse than this snowmageddon.

But, having endured the Rita cluster, I'd gladly do it again, versus being stranded in ice and subzero temps.

Rita was a much larger traffic disaster, but this icicle was a far more dangerous one.

Those folks have my year's supply of sympathy for that one.

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Tam said...


They don't have enough salt trucks. They don't need enough salt trucks. It makes zero economic sense for them to have enough salt trucks. When you know weather like this is coming in the south, you buy French toast supplies and stay home for the day or two it takes to melt off.


"I always thought that Hotlanta was in the same longitude as most of the Eastern Time Zone."

It is. Also, like much of the rest of the country, it sometimes has things called "clouds". ;)


When going out with your friend "Bubba" (names have been changed to protect the innocent) who has put chains on the tires of his '69 Chevy pickup and a couple hundred pounds of play sand in the bed so he can go out and pull cars out of roadside ditches in an Atlanta ice storm, there is nothing more humorous than listening to the dulcet tones of a Chicago or Boston accent telling us how they used to do things back home while we're towing their Buick out of the loblollies. True story. :)

I'm Charlie said...

I drool over the idea of a '69 Chevy pick up and I don't have chains for my poofter Acura MDX but I do have all wheel drive and I did put several hundred pounds of bagged gravel in the back of it. Could be why I've made it to the office the past two days and spent yesterday afternoon picking up "stranded" neighbors.

Scott J said...

"Yep, Atlanta, Birmingham and a bunch of others down in that region DIDN'T do it well... "

The problem was temps. Our typical snow event starts with wet roads that then get slushy that then freeze. The process takes a couple hours on average so if you head out when the roads get dusty then you can make it home if you drive smart. I counted on this pattern and that's why I was stranded.

Tuesday was different. The dusting froze to ice the instant the cars compressed it. I have never seen fresh powder go to tractionless ice that fast.

Pretreatment with ice melter might have helped but that wasn't done.

The last time we had conditions go downhill this fast was 1982 with an ice storm that moved in 4 hours ahead of forecast.

Tam said...

Scott J,

Just remember these responses next time some Jerseyite gets his home flattened by a Cat 1 hurricane. "Down in the Gulf, they know how to build for hurricanes!"

Scott J said...

Tam, I don't recall ever making such a comment and if I did I must have taken leave of my senses. I was in Auburn, AL when Opal came through in '95 and it was still a Cat 1 as it passed over. I have taken hurricanes very seriously ever since.

I made it home today finally.

Firehand said...

Most of Oklahoma, snow isn't that much of a problem; Ice on the other hand...

One of Dad's old jobs was safety programs, and did a lot on Fort Sill for troops newly-transferred in. Standard warning: "How many of you are from up north?"
Show of hands.
"How many of you can drive in snow?"
Same show of hands.
"You're going to get a surprise down here. Usually not much snow, but we get ice."
Followed by lots of "Oh, bullshit" looks followed by non-coms who've been here a while telling horror stories.

rocinante2 said...

Seldom have I so neatly Dodged A Bullet.

Left work for an appointment at 1100. Snow started falling in the Century Center (N. Druid Hills @ I-85N) area about noon. Left said appointment about 1230.

Snow came down steadily and stuck, but roads were still passable. Headed home to drop off some paperwork requested by Mrs. Rocinante.

I took surface streets to avoid the large numbers of people I knew were leaving work, or soon would be. On final approach to the Rosedale, I noticed a problem with traction and braking on significant slopes, so as soon as the Cruiser was safely parked, I called it a day.

At dusk, I put on my snow-kickers and trudged two blocks to the (spookily deserted, but fully-stocked) grocery for a few items. I took picked out a distinctive vehicle and made careful note of its position. By that gauge, Roswell Road northbound moved less than a block in thirty minutes. (whew.)

I had no idea so many of you were in the ATL. We should have a convention, or something.