Spend any time watching the Georgia Department of Transportation traffic cameras today and the cold weather of Minnesota never looked better.
Consider, for example, this situation this afternoon on Interstate-285 in Atlanta.
If you’re expecting anything from Georgia by truck, it’s probably going to be delayed.
How can an area mess up an ice storm so badly? The best panel of experts on the subject are people who’ve lived somewhere else.
Writing on The Atlantic website today, Conor Sen, a New England native and Atlanta hedge fund analyst, says it’s not what we smug northerners might think. It’s a metro area of 6 million people and the Twin Cities — with a couple of million — isn’t so great at surprise ice storms either. In Atlanta’s case, even race is a factor, he says:
Regionalism here is hard. The population of this state has doubled in the past 40-45 years, and many of the older voters who control it still think of it as the way it was when they were growing up.
The urban core of Atlanta is a minority participant in a state government controlled by rural and northern Atlanta exurban interests. The state government gives MARTA (Atlanta’s heavy rail transportation system) no money. There’s tough regional and racial history here which is both shameful and a part of the inheritance we all have by being a part of this region.
Demographics are evolving quickly, but government moves more slowly. The city in which I live, Brookhaven, was incorporated in 2012. This is its first-ever snowstorm (again, 2 inches). It’s a fairly affluent, mostly white, urban small city. We were unprepared too.
The issue is that you have three layers of government—city, county, state—and none of them really trust the other. And why should they? Cobb County just “stole the Braves” from the city of Atlanta.Why would Atlanta cede transportation authority to a regional body when its history in dealing with the region/state has been to carve up Atlanta with highways and never embrace its transit system?
Why would the region/state want to give more authority to Atlanta when many of the people in the region want nothing to do with the city of Atlanta unless it involves getting to work or a Braves game?
Down in Birmingham, Ala., today, a NewsCut reader and friend tells me the local radio station sought out a Minnesota transplant, a teacher, to explain to southerners that even Minnesotans would have a tough time in this disaster, according to his note to me today:
According to him, in the North the ground gets cold and stays cold. And when it snows, the snow accumulates as snow. In the South, the ground doesn’t stay frozen so most of the time when it begins snowing the first little accumulation melts because of the ground temperature and then re-freezes as ice as the snow continues to accumulate. Thus the result, even if it’s only a two-inch snowfall, is a thin layer of ice under snow.
He said Northerners who drive routinely in four inches of snow would have a different perspective if they drove on the two inch ice/snow mess they had yesterday in Birmingham.
In all of these weather disasters, however, there are usually people doing incredible things going virtually unnoticed.
Teachers, for example:
We don’t know what Joyce Cook’s personal situation is. Maybe she had kids and a family to get home to; maybe not. But regardless, there she was, staying with the kids who were stranded overnight at an Alabama school.