Sunday, February 02, 2014

Snow Jam '14

Pretty much an exact repeat of Snow Jam '82.  It's 32 years later, technology has (supposedly) improved like, a hundred-fold. So how could this have happened again?

From where I sit, right smack here in the area where it happened, I would say the largest factor was that no matter how advanced weather-forecasting technology has gotten, it still can't predict 100% of the time exactly what's going to happen.

However, to listen to Northerners and others, they knew exactly what was going to happen, and we're all just a bunch of idiots.

Well, we're not idiots (not all of us anyway), and we can only go by what we're told.

If the Northerners and others knew what was going to happen, then apparently there's a Conspiracy to Mislead and keep Southerners in The Dark about Snow Storms.
It probably has something to do with the fact that what we got was Fake Snow, and they are trying to murder us.

In the event there's not a Conspiracy, and no one is trying is Kill Us All, here's my take on what really happened:

Let's go back to early January.
January 2nd, dire warnings about Ice and possibly a Dusting to 1/2" of snow as far south as Metro Atlanta.

I believe they got some weather up in Northern Georgia, but as far as Metro Atlanta, we saw little to nothing.

The next day, dire warnings for the following Monday morning, which would have been January 6th, the day most of the schools were starting back to session after the Holidays.

January 4th, NWS issues a WINTER STORM WATCH for areas as far South as North-Metro-Atlanta.

January 5th, Sunday, before most schools are planning to open back up on Monday: A dusting to 1 inch of snow (higher amounts North), a Trace to 1/4" of Sleet (Sleet is Ice, for those that don't know).

Schools went ahead and closed ahead of The Event, but come Monday morning there was no snow or ice, and the temps were about 25*, which was pretty cold, but not deadly cold.

And people were p-i-s-s-e-d about schools having been closed "before it even did anything". 

That was the Polar Vortex and we did get record low freezing temps, causing schools to close again (and parents raise hell again) on Tuesday.

Finally kids went back to school, and the next day we were put on alert for Severe Weather.

A couple of days later, the Severe weather threat had was looking to stay all to the South of the Metro Atlanta area.

Saturday morning, January 11th, J got up to go to work at the fire station, turned on the coffee maker, and sat down to check his Facebook. This is what he saw:

That had been posted around 1:30am, and he was seeing it around 6'ish am. He went and shaved, then got a cup of coffee and sat back down and saw this: a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for our county.

We are actually just South of the black box in the picture, but if you look back to the left side of the box, which is across the GA/AL line and back into Alabama, there's more storm that looked like it was headed for us.

A tornado touched down in the County just to the North and East of us.

We went from "Nope, nope, nothing, no worries" to a Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado touching down within just a few hours.

Did the Northerners and others know that was going to happen?
Were the Weather Forecasters told to Mislead us about what was coming, to Lie and tell us all the Threat was going to stay to the South, that we had Nothing to worry about, and didn't need to take any we could all have been killled? 

If so, it's been going on my entire life, because in my experience, I can remember several times unpredicted bad weather has popped up in the wee hours and surprised a lot of people.

Three days later, Tuesday, January 14th: Hazardous Weather Outlook, Winter Weather Advisory: Light rain mixed with Light Snow, Transitioning into Flurries.

Again, no Winter Weather.

After that it starts warming up, and by Monday the 20th, we're up near 60* and it's awesome. Maybe Spring is coming.

Whoops, nope, next day the bottom drops out again.

Here comes snow, except, again, it didn't snow. Much, if any.

Two days later, it gets even colder than it was before:

They got the Cold right, every time. I can't imagine, if they were out to kill people, they would keep warning us about the extreme cold. It would have been a great opportunity to kill off a lot of peeps.

Instead, because we had warning, Communities were able to prepare and plan and set up Warming Stations and make sure their disabled and elderly citizens were safe.

Two days later, we were having a gorgeous weekend, up in the 50's, which at this point felt more like the 70's.

On Saturday the 25th, we were tipped off to possible Winter Weather the following Thursday. But at this point people are like, Mmm-kay.
This was, what, the third or fourth possible Winter Weather event this month alone? Thursday was a long time away. Best to wait and see.

And see? By the next day the forecast has changed drastically. Instead of Thursday, it's moved up to Tuesday, and is mainly for Central and South Georgia areas. Most of North Georgia including Metro Atlanta could expect little to no snow accumulation.

Monday January 27th, it's a nice day, up around 50*.  Me and Ryan got out and ran a couple of errands, including, yes, the Grocery Store.  We didn't get rain around here.

At this point it's really, really a watch and see what happens thing. One time they said the System had Weakened and accumulation totals had dropped.

North Georgia and the Metro area could expect from a Trace to half and inch, with the expected start time early Tuesday afternoon. (Which means, the City of Atlanta wouldn't see anything until later in the evening.)

I'm actually only posting maybe a quarter of all the weather predictions and discussion and graphics posted by weather and news pages, and people.
It was The Topic of the Day, and the huge debate was "Will it, or won't it?".

I went to the store to grab some things we were out of or low on...but that wasn't really an indication of anything. I'm a self-admitted Preparer, and went to the store the other times there was a possibility of bad weather, too.

I called my oldest son to make sure they had plenty of wood for their wood heater and plenty of food. He said they were ready, but he doubted it would do anything around here.

To be honest, I agreed with him. I didn't honestly think it would do anything around here, either.

The local news was showing it staying to the South:

Until *someone* decided Atlanta and the immediate Metro counties needed to be included in the excitement.
Come on, I call bullshit on this.

Oh, a dusting. Sure, right. Uh-huh. Believe that when we see it.

The areas in pink will be under a winter storm warning... The areas in blue are just highlighted to cause excitement and give the News people something to Make a Big Deal about.

Tuesday morning everyone wakes up to Nothing. Well, still Predictions. But workplaces can't not open because it may or may not snow, sometime later that day.

 Because we're on the GA/AL line, we do a lot of watching Alabama's weather to see what we can expect headed our way.

The News station out of Birmingham was still predicting nothing more than a Light Dusting for Northern Alabama, which coincided with the Atlanta news forecasters for a Dusting around the Atlanta area.

Our Local News channel posted School, Government, and Business closings, which were mostly in areas South of Atlanta.
(There were a lot more posts but I edited out a lot of the "What about (my county)" questions.)

The last guy here says "School shouldn't be canned from this weak of a snow system".

And look at these opinions about it:

"All these school closings are silly. Wait and see if it does anything."
"I can't even understand why school is closed. Working people having to find sitters for 1inch of snow. that's not even enough to cover the bottom of your shoe."
"Closed for what????? oh because it "might" snow!!!! smh"

"Schools shouldn't be cancelled. That's ridiculous!"
"Why are schools closing when there is no bad weather in the area. Really people stop panicking and deal with it."

Tuesday morning, Local Station says Atlanta is included in the Winter Storm Warning, one to two inches of snow are *possible*. The snow *could* move in before noon.

At this point, we don't know it yet, but the snow storm is imminent, and they are still using the words "possible" and "could".

This snow forecast on that Tuesday morning shows the total snowfall amount we could see by 8:00 pm Wednesday night.

It says Atlanta and the Metro Area should get a little less than 2 inches within about a 36 hour time period.

In other words, there was plenty of time to get home and treat the roads.

J came in that morning from working the ambulance the night before, and I got in the car and headed to a friend's to secure his house and feed the cats while he was out of town.

It wasn't doing anything weather-wise when I left home, which was around 9:30am. About 10 miles from home, the bottom fell out. It wasn't like a gradual few flurries, few more, some more... It literally started pouring snow.

It was very windy, and the snow, instead of hitting the road and melting, making the road wet, just blew around like sand, or a dry powder.

That was really strange because, if you'll recall, it was up around 50* just the day before. The road should have still been warm enough for the first of the snow to hit it and melt, until it got wet enough to freeze, then the snow would stick, on top of a layer of ice.

That's how it normally does.

By the time I got the rest of the way to my destination, about another 12 miles, snow was already starting to cover parked cars and piling up along the edges of the driveway.

I fed the cats, and put out a couple of extra bowls of food and water because I was pretty sure my friend wasn't going to make it home from middle Georgia that day, and wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it back down there the next day.

By the time I made it back home, less than an hour had passed. The roads were white, and you could see tire tracks in the snow.

My car had less than a half a tank of gas and I had planned to fill up while I was out, but once the snow storm started, I panicked and raced my butt right back home.
So J and Ryan went to take my car to town to fill it up, and went riding to see what they could see.

They saw this truck having slid around and hit two cars, and there's a pickup truck into the other side of it, on a hill I had just come down myself not even a half hour before.

It's so weird that the roads built up snow and turned white, even before the ground off to the sides did. This just wasn't normal.

Within a pretty short time, just a couple of hours, everything was white. It was quite a bit more than a "dusting" or a "trace" or even a half - or one inch. We got at least 3 inches.

Here you can see what happened to the roads. The snow didn't melt, but piled up, but did melt when cars drove over it, and then immediately froze into solid ice in the frigid temps.

Also, it was a different kind of snow than we're used to, too.  We don't generally get "powdery" snow. Our snow is usually tiny ice-pellets, hard and wet.

I was looking at some photos from January 2011 from our last "decent" snow storm and saw Kev's busted nose, from where his brother had thrown a snowball at his face. More like a giant ice cube.

They were also able to make snowmen that time.

This snow, when Kev tried to throw a snowball at us, it just went poof . This was nothing like our normal snow.

Ha Ha Ha Ha

So to sum up, what basically happened was, yes, it was predicted - sort of.
But it was a dang wishy-washy prediction.
And after three or four false alarms already, no one believed it was going to do anything...or not much of anything, or not as early, or as quickly.

And when it did do something, it wasn't at all typical of what we're used to. It didn't start lightly. It happened really fast. It didn't hit the road and melt first as usual.

By the time the schools let out, it was already too late.
By the time the City Mayors or Managers or the Governor realized it, it was already too late.

It could have been a Conspiracy to Kill us Southerners - if the North really knew what was going to happen and we didn't - but, more likely, it was just one of those fluke situations.
Or, shit just happens sometimes.

Check out this article in the Atlanta Journal written January 8, 2010 detailing some of Georgia's past shit happens situations  Winter Weather horrors.

Winter Weather surprises are just a few things we deal with. We often have to deal with severe weather and tornadoes. The occasional flood, and every so often a hurricane will even blow through.

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