Two Inches of Snow…And Lots of Questions!

According to a recent article from The Augusta Chronicle, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed plans to make improvements to the city’s emergency preparedness.

This comes after a small storm made big headlines last week. Only a couple inches of snow fell on Atlanta, an amount that would make our northern neighbors chuckle, but it was enough to cause mayhem.

According to the article, Reed spoke at the Atlanta Press Club on Friday. He said “a comprehensive review of the city’s response to Tuesday’s snowfall” has been ordered. The review will help determine “what worked and what didn’t”. He will also put together a group to figure out the best emergency preparedness practices.

Reed said he plans on hiring an emergency management executive to take charge of Atlanta’s emergency readiness and implement the practices his group recommends.

Response officials and the state have been met with criticism of the way they handled the winter storm.

Reed admitted that the city should have done some things differently, but said his administration was not idle during the storm.

“The notion that we were standing still is just patently not the case,” said Reed in the article.

So what can be learned from Atlanta’s ordeal?

A CNN article tackles the claims people are making, the realities of those claims and the lessons that can be gleaned from this weather event.

One of the claims people are making is that the big problem of transportation during the storm could have been avoided if Atlanta had a mass transit system a la Chicago or Boston. The CNN article says in reality, yes.

Atlanta depends almost entirely on its roads and cars. Its train system does not provide service to the whole metro area so it cannot be considered a full alternative.

Is there a lesson here? Would Atlanta benefit from a transit system overhaul?

Another significant claim the CNN article discussed is that this was an “unexpected storm”, but in reality, it wasn’t.

According to the article, the National Weather Service put the whole Atlanta metro area under a winter storm warning in the wee hours of Tuesday morning. The NWS even predicted the amount of snow that was likely to fall, warning residents of up to two inches of snow.

Though that is not a large amount of snowfall, for a city that is unprepared for it, it is significant.

So, perhaps a lesson to be learned here is to take all weather warnings seriously – and get ready just in case. Is it better to be safe than sorry?

And yet there is the argument that storms like this almost never happen in Atlanta. Is it practical to spend the money and time preparing for events you won’t have to contend with for years?

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers spoke about this in the article.

"We simply have never purchased the amount of equipment necessary. Why would you in a city that gets one snow event every three years?" he said.

In places like Buffalo, New York, there would have been advance preparations made before the winter storm, like salting the streets, for example. But Atlanta isn’t currently capable of taking preventative measures on that level.

"Why would you buy 500 snowplows and salt trucks and have them sit around for 1,000 days, waiting for the next event?” said Myers.

 

For more information, see the original Augusta Chronicle article here: http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/metro/2014-01-31/atlanta-mayor-plans-improve-emergency-readiness?v=1391213565
See the original CNN article here: http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/30/us/atlanta-ice-how-it-happened/