Tim Chitwood: South's deep freeze twice frost-bites pointed fingers

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 1, 2014 

Oh! So THAT'S what happens when Southerners don't freak out before it snows.

If we don't get to the store the day before, stock up on grits, milk and booze and get Snow Day off, we wind up trapped in our cars overnight.

We like to make fun of our Southern snow panic -- our stocking essentials before we den like bears.

But folks trapped in their cars on Atlanta's interstates Tuesday probably wished they had some bread and milk and booze. At least they could have emptied the milk and used the jug for a toilet.

The 2 inches of snow that resurrected Atlanta's role in "The Walking Dead" led to jokes about the South. Jon Stewart used a few Thursday in a "Daily Show" segment titled "South Parked."

He had footage from the fallout Wednesday, when state and city leaders started pointing fingers.

They knew Tuesday's crisis was no time for finger-pointing. So they waited until Wednesday to blame meteorologists, whose forecasts -- as replayed on "The Daily Show" -- turned out to have been accurate.

So forecasters got to make hand gestures, too.

Let's hope we learn from this, lest it replay.

Had something like this happened just a few years ago, we would have learned a lesson, and history would not have repeated itself, and …

Wait. What? It DID happen? In 2011? Really?

OK, so on Jan. 11, 2011, (1/11/11), Atlanta was walking dead on inch-thick ice after a snowstorm.

So … perhaps state and city leaders should have remembered that. But maybe it was just a freak overnight thing. Maybe some state leaders weren't even in town that day, so…

What? The snow fell Jan. 10? On Gov. Nathan Deal's inauguration day? Really?

Come to think of it, I do remember that. An editor suggested I go to the inauguration. And I suggested that no way in hell would I try to run an Atlanta rush hour on ice.

Add ice and snow to "normal" Atlanta traffic, and you don't have to kill yourself driving. Someone else will do it for you.

Winter storms in the South are forces of nature, like spring car-swallowing floods in the Midwest and summer tree-eating wildfires in the far West.

You respect that power, or it kicks your butt.

But the consequences aren't always dire:

Despite the risk of frostbite, no one running for cover last week lost a finger on Atlanta's highways -- just on national news, and Comedy Central.

Tim Chitwood, tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com, 706-571-8508.

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