ATLANTA (USA TODAY) -- The city began to emerge from an icy, two-day gridlock Thursday, but it was the blame game that was really heating up.
Arctic blast crippling much of the Deep South has caused at least 13
deaths and created havoc for millions, prompting six states to declare
emergencies. Nowhere have the problems been more severe than in the
Atlanta area, where residents awoke Thursday to temperatures in the
Mayor Kasim Reed, who on Wednesday promised not to play the "blame game," appeared on NBC's Today
show Thursday and was quick to point out that the jammed roads NBC
showed on the telecast, and earlier this week, are not in the city of
Atlanta. The city does not have jurisdiction for the interstates that
run through Atlanta, Reed said.
He said he ordered all Atlanta
streets pretreated by 9 a.m. Tuesday The storm hit after lunchtime. "If
the cameras had focused on city limits, they would have seen that 80%
were passable," Reed told host Matt Lauer.
Georgia Gov. Nathan
Deal on Wednesday had blamed the National Weather Service, saying it
"continually had modeling showing Atlanta would not be the primary area
(of the storm). It would be south of Atlanta."
Marshall Shepherd, a
meteorologist with the University of Georgia and president of the
American Meteorological Society, said neither meteorologists nor the
forecast for the Atlanta area was to blame.
At 3:39 a.m. Tuesday,
Marshall said the weather service issued a winter storm warning for the
entire Atlanta metro area, expecting 1-2 inches of snow. "Overall, the
Atlanta event was a well-forecasted and well-warned event," he said.
told Lauer the failure to stagger the release of people from schools
and businesses in Atlanta during a light snowstorm Tuesday played a
primary role in creating a paralyzing traffic jam.
"We made an
error in the way that we released our citizens,'' Reed said. "The state
made a judgment to release state employees, private businesses made that
judgment, and I made the call and APS (Atlanta Public Schools) made the
He added that the city is relatively inexperienced at
dealing with snowstorms, "but the city of Atlanta invested $2.5 million
in snow equipment and that is the reason that right now our streets are
Tuesday's snowfall brought just 2.6 inches of snow to
Atlanta, but it was a one-day record and enough to hamstring the region,
creating nightmares for commuters, truckers, students and their
Traffic was moving, albeit slowly in some cases, on most
of metro Atlanta's major roads Thursday morning. There were exceptions:
All northbound lanes of Interstate 75 were blocked for a time because
of a jackknifed tractor trailer.
But morning rush-hour traffic was
much lighter than normal: Most metro area schools canceled classes for
the day, state government and many businesses were closed and the
Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) was asking motorists to stay
off the roads if possible.
Much of the focus Thursday, as
temperatures are expected to begin rising above freezing by noon, will
be on retrieving the abandoned vehicles littering area roads. People
were being sent to one of two staging areas, depending on where they
left their cars, beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday. They will be taken to
their cars from those sites.
"There will be fuel available for
vehicles that ran out of gas as well as the ability to jump start a dead
battery," GEMA said in a statement.
More than 400 flights were
canceled into and out of the Atlanta airport. "We anticipate additional
cancellations at our Atlanta hub through (Thursday) morning before
temperatures increase and conditions improve," said Delta Air Lines
spokesman Morgan Durrant. "We encourage customers to make sure they have
updated contact info in their reservations and to also use delta.com
and the Fly Delta app to check flight status and make changes."
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