Another Unexpected Disaster That Was Well Forecast

By: Bryan Norcross , 9:06 PM GMT on January 29, 2014

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Thousands of people, including school children, are still not home in Metro Atlanta after leaving the work yesterday afternoon. They slept in schools, in their cars, and up and down the aisles of Home Depots and 24-hour drug stores. Another horrendous outcome of the dysfunctional system that that we use in this country to connect the weather forecasters, the emergency decision-makers, and the public.

My meteorologist friends are saying things like, “Atlanta was well warned”. But if that were true, the only conclusion has to be that a couple million stupid people all decided to get on the road at the same time and create an apocalyptic nightmare. And in that couple of million, by the way, would be the governor, the mayor, the department of transportation, the school board and everybody else who didn’t get the message that a life-threatening event was in the making.

The formula for disaster in Atlanta is pretty simple.

WARM GROUND + VERY COLD AIR + SNOW + WORKDAY = CHAOS

Here’s the sequence: the initial snow melts due to the warm ground (55 to 60 in Atlanta on Sunday); the cold air freezes that water into a coating of ice (temperatures dropped through the 20s all afternoon); the road gets slipperier as the snow gets compressed onto the ice and/or melts due to the traffic (another 2” of snow fell after the initial melt); people see the snow, freak out (with good reason), and all leave work at once.

Every hilly road, which is most of metropolitan Atlanta, would have had to be treated with salt before the storm so that first layer of ice didn’t form to keep this from happening. It wasn’t possible this time, and it never will be. Everybody knew it wasn’t possible, but nobody had the systemic wherewithal to assemble the facts, understand the threat, and close the city for the day.

The meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Atlanta analyzed the weather pattern and the computer models quite well. Their discussions were clear enough in the days before the storm. It was a challenging forecast because Atlanta was on the northern edge of the snow, but the discussion of snow and a cold wind were always there. The day before the event, they had a Winter Storm Watch in effect for the city. They lowered it that night to a Winter Weather Advisory, a critical mistake in hindsight, and then put up the Winter Storm Warning in the middle of the night before the snow. So, it wasn’t perfect, but there was plenty of clear discussion of the possibility of a few inches of snow along with bitter cold temperatures.

If the decision-makers understood the formula above, this information should have been sufficient to trigger a proper response.

But, state governments and big cities and counties don’t get their weather analyses from these public bulletins and advisories. Instead, they get direct briefings from National Weather Service meteorologists. To hear the public officials tell it, they were caught off-guard by the storm, so somewhere in that communications system there was a serious disconnect. The decision-makers either didn’t get the message, or more likely, didn’t have appropriate action plans, which the threatening forecast would have triggered.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal threw the National Weather Service under the bus - going so far as to say that local TV weather people made more accurate forecasts – but his statement shows a complete misunderstanding of the role of the NWS forecasters and the role of emergency decision-makers, including himself. The meteorologists make the weather forecasts, the emergency managers and decision-makers at cities, counties, states, and school boards are supposed to understand the impact of the weather, direct the government response, and communicate recommended actions to the public. Shockingly, the governor and the Atlanta mayor didn’t see that as their responsibility.

This is distressingly similar to Hurricane Sandy, of course. A major city, along with the state in this case, in spite of direct communications with the National Weather Service, is unable to put the pieces together to understand the RISK to their citizens. Risk implies uncertainty, and understanding it is at the heart of decision-making. Let’s say the chance of the storm producing 3 inches of snow was 30% on Monday, which sounds about right. The Georgia decision-makers didn’t understand that a 30% risk of a cataclysm requires major affirmative action. You can’t wait for a guarantee.

How about a 20% chance of tens of thousand of people being stranded on the highway in freezing temperatures? Is that enough for a governor or mayor to make the decision to tell people to stay home? It’s not easy, but it’s not rocket science. Mostly, you have to understand the ingredients that have to come together to create a disaster in your city. (See formula above.)

Mayor Mitch Landrieu in New Orleans understood this process and closed down the city in advance of the ice that was forecast there. That wasn’t a guarantee either, but the RISK was sufficient that he made the hard and right decision.

Somewhere and somehow somebody has got to take the lead on closing the threat-understanding gap between forecasters, decision-makers, and the public. It’s not simple because of the division of responsibilities between various federal, state, and local agencies in a disaster. But, we’ve seen too many instances where good-enough weather forecasts have lead to bad decisions and poor public communications. The issue is partly science, which we should be able to solve with an organized effort by the National Weather Service, FEMA, and others.

But there’s another big problem, which the Georgia governor articulated very well in his news conference. He was more afraid to be wrong in closing down the city, than he was of people being stranded in their cars. Until we can develop a system that keeps politics out of it and lets science and good judgment drive the decision-making bus, this kind of thing is going to keep happening.


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61. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
8:58 PM GMT on February 13, 2014
bnorcross has created a new entry.
59. georgevandenberghe
9:25 PM GMT on February 01, 2014
DC had it's management enhanced commuter disaster in January 2011.

A rainy winter event was in progress with a transition to snow and a very strong shortwave forecast in the afternoon expected to produce several inches of snow. The changeover verified as rain (washing away any pretreatments) to ice pellets to snow and the ice pellets were dense and thick and so produced an immediate slushy layer. THey also looked very impressive on radar.

In Midafternoon an impressive radar presentation accompanied by reports of very rapid deterioration of road conditions in the western suburbs, caused local officals to suggest private employers dismiss early if possible and the Gov't itself let out early. This caused a flood of people to hit the roads about the same time that they got sloppy and then ice covered. Huge traffic jams resulted and many people had 6+ hour commutes. A few had over 12+ hours. The lesson taken from this is not to dismiss everyone at the same time but also to avoid situations where everyone is at work and needs to get home in the midst of such an event. The local area has been very cautious about opening for full business when weather threatens.

I myself was aware that the weather would deteriorate and hit the road a half hour earlier than everyone else, as soon as I saw that radar. I got home about the time the roads got bad. Driving conditions were not impossible by any means but reduced the traffic capacity of the roads by more than half and gross backups resulted. It sounds like the ATL area had much worse conditions (untreated solid ice) for the Tuesday 1/28 event.
Member Since: February 1, 2012 Posts: 19 Comments: 2187
58. Astrometeor
3:08 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
Quoting 57. yoboi:



Let's pretend you are the mayor of Atlanta....how long do you think it would take you to shut down a city that size??????


Since most people are still at home, easy, tell them to stay at home. Done.

As for the rest of the city, begin letting the non-essentials go home, and get the salt trucks on the roads.

It's not that hard to close a city down yoboi. You just need the correct coordination...which is clearly something Atlanta lacked.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10480
57. yoboi
1:32 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
Quoting 56. TropicalAnalystwx13:

Only issue is our conversation was concerning Atlanta, Georgia. Not Birmingham, Alabama.



Let's pretend you are the mayor of Atlanta....how long do you think it would take you to shut down a city that size??????
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2592
56. TropicalAnalystwx13
1:30 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
Quoting 55. yoboi:





Alabama NWS said it will do better after botched forecast..

(Excerpts from the Article)

"We are assessing our models and forecasts related to this storm to determine where improvements could be made," the agency said in a statement.

"A statement from the National Weather Service said forecasters realized conditions were changing in central Alabama and issued a public advisory around 9 a.m. CST. Snow began falling around 10 a.m., the weather service said, and a winter storm warning was issued one hour later."

"Masters, the Weather Underground expert, said it was "fairly unusual" for the weather service to issue a winter storm warning after snow was already falling, as happened in central Alabama. But overall, he said, the forecast wasn't off that much - the snow just fell about 70 miles north of where it was expected."

Only issue is our conversation was concerning Atlanta, Georgia. Not Birmingham, Alabama.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32811
55. yoboi
1:26 AM GMT on February 01, 2014
Quoting 49. Astrometeor:


yoboi, repeatedly quoting Mr. Norcross's opinion does not make an argument. In my opinion, there was ample warning, despite your disbelief, and the cause of Atlanta's failure WAS several million idiots (including the school board, the mayor, the governor) getting on the roads and ignoring the NWS.

Edit: Clearly I can go back-and-forth with you on this issue ad nauseam without making any headway into your thinking process.





Alabama NWS said it will do better after botched forecast..

(Excerpts from the Article)

"We are assessing our models and forecasts related to this storm to determine where improvements could be made," the agency said in a statement.

"A statement from the National Weather Service said forecasters realized conditions were changing in central Alabama and issued a public advisory around 9 a.m. CST. Snow began falling around 10 a.m., the weather service said, and a winter storm warning was issued one hour later."

"Masters, the Weather Underground expert, said it was "fairly unusual" for the weather service to issue a winter storm warning after snow was already falling, as happened in central Alabama. But overall, he said, the forecast wasn't off that much - the snow just fell about 70 miles north of where it was expected."
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2592
54. Ranchster
6:53 PM GMT on January 31, 2014
Having spent 27 years in local emergency management I think Bryan's comments about executive decision making are spot on except I don't think their motives are purely political. They have real concerns about their credibility and that of government in general. They seem to be extremely sensitive to "over-reacting". "We will needlessly upset people, It will be costly and disruptive, kids will have another snow day to make up", etc. And if they make the wrong decision (i.e. bad outcome) the media will eat them for dinner. So I think they need to be educated that they are much less likely to get beaten up for decisions in which public safety is the priority rather than minimizing costs and disruption.

Another thing I am seeing in Atlanta is that public officials seem to way over promise on their ability to minimize "unpleasantness". One woman quoted in the Atlanta newspaper was incensed that she did not get a phone call from the school district advising her that schools are closing early! There really needs to be more focus on personal and family preparedness so that people can make it through situations like this. When State Troopers are going out to "rescue" students "stranded" in schools something is wrong. Kids should be perfectly safe - even overnight- in a reasonably prepared school.
Member Since: January 31, 2014 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
53. Astrometeor
3:20 AM GMT on January 31, 2014
Nashville, after their own failure in 2003, will put brine, salt, and sand down onto all of the roads just at the mention of flurries or freezing temps + water.

Atlanta had a major embarrassment a couple years ago; they don't have an excuse now.

This isn't an issue about the North's preparation vs the South's preparation. GaDOT clearly failed, on such an epic scale. I didn't even think Atlanta could do this.

It's almost as if they attempted to act like a Northern city and just bluff their way through...
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10480
52. richteas
6:09 PM GMT on January 30, 2014
Ok, the finger pointing needs to stop!
The Blog IS Correct in that this storm was forcast days in advance. Even 'Timing' was included in it's forcast. So Why was there a problem?
Even With the Technologies that we have today, (that we didn't have in 1987, by the way) Like LIVE RADAR, showing not only Where the Precip is, but it also rather accurately shows What Type Of Precip. is coming down. There are those who refuse to 'believe' what they see.
There's been plently said about 'Certain Politicians NOT Believing in Science to begin with, but with the Radar Maps Showing that You are About To Take A Healthy Slap Across the Face, it seems to me that WE NEED Officials with the Courage to Look at What's HERE, and actually make a Proactive Decision...and the Mighty Dollar or Votes, not taking the lead in the decision making process. LIFES and Safety MUST take Number One Priority. And for the Financially Addicted...even you can see how a nightmare like this translates into lost Dollars!
So Officials? Stop Blaming Anyone...Other Than Yourself! You ONLY NEEDED to LOOK at a Radar Map and 'Think' about 'What Is The Correct Thing To Do?'...???
And Sir, or Madame, IF YOU Can NOT Answer That Question...YOU NEED to Resign!
Respectfully,
Richard Teasdale - of Thomson Ga.
but I grew up in Wisconsin, so these 'decisions' are 'Common Sense' to Many of Us. Southern or Northern! Simply Use The Tech. that's staring you in the face and ACT!
And may I add, for 'us regular folk'? Waiting until the snow, sleet, freezing rain is coming down to go grocery shopping isn't the correct thing to do either....see gridlocked roads please....(Just as with a Tropical Storm, Planning Ahead is the Right thing to do! Stranded is Stranded, no matter what the cause.)
Member Since: July 10, 2007 Posts: 7 Comments: 667
51. passionfollowed
2:54 PM GMT on January 30, 2014
I am not even in Atlanta and thru my local news, Wundergrd, and Weather Channel, I knew that they were going be affected as the alerts grew from a watch to a warning. They were warned well before it hit and they had time to react and keep people off the highway at least, home and safe. How the Atlanta Dot and Mayor missed it is up for assumption. My guess they stopped listening to weather on Sunday thinking it was nothing. They said that they saw the report it said they were getting a dusting. But being DOT and mayor of a major city I would think that they would be monitoring the weather 24 hours a day. That is what officials in the majority of states and cities around the world do. They should have been aware that the weather was going thru a major change and would affect their area.

Somehow Atlanta officials missed the mark. The City officials were talking to Al from the weather channel and said they were going to start putting down salt, but rush hour, the morn of storm, prevented them from doing so. I am from a winter state and there is no such thing as not getting out there to prep the roads before a major storm coming. Even if that means they are out there at 2 or 3 in the morning to get ahead, or out and amoung rush hour traffic which is a must sometime.
Then there are the millions of Atlanta residents. OMG, when it started snowing...they all left their jobs for home at once. In the snow states, they already know that is a disaster waiting to happen, which is what happened. Way to many cars on the road at one time, which helped increase the already building ice, let alone people that were traveling through the area. All I can say is WOWWWW !!!

I noted on here in several comments about the ignorance or lack of education about winter weather. However, the south is not just full of southerners that have never or rarely see snow or ice any more. It is also full of northerners that know it all to well. Northerners that know now to deal with possible bad weather in the winter, It is about the what if..that you judge whether or not to act. The big thing was the children. It was reported that there were 119 school buses stranded full of kids... no food/water, over night in the cold and hundreds of kids stranded at school overnight. This is really unacceptable. Up north at least if extreme cold or snow storm is predicted and they look at the ""what if"" the school bus breaks down or weather patterns change that may affect the safety of kids, they don't want these kids out in the elements... there for you close the schools. Parents may have to go to work, but your children are safe at home.

This was a tragedy in Atlanta need not have happened. Atlanta invested in millions in snow removal after the 2011 winter that stranded people for 4 days. Maybe they should have invested in getting educated about managing and maintaining traffic and roads in potential and eminent bad weather. Because winter just may be coming more frequently to the south with the weather changing
Member Since: January 23, 2014 Posts: 0 Comments: 1
50. yoboi
5:24 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 49. Astrometeor:


yoboi, repeatedly quoting Mr. Norcross's opinion does not make an argument. In my opinion, there was ample warning, despite your disbelief, and the cause of Atlanta's failure WAS several million idiots (including the school board, the mayor, the governor) getting on the roads and ignoring the NWS.


I think both the NWS and Mayor/Governor are to blame for the mess....JMO....We can agree it did not work yesterday....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2592
49. Astrometeor
5:20 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 47. yoboi:




My meteorologist friends are saying things like, %u201CAtlanta was well warned%u201D. But if that were true, the only conclusion has to be that a couple million stupid people all decided to get on the road at the same time and create an apocalyptic nightmare. And in that couple of million, by the way, would be the governor, the mayor, the department of transportation, the school board and everybody else who didn%u2019t get the message that a life-threatening event was in the making.





yoboi, repeatedly quoting Mr. Norcross's opinion does not make an argument. In my opinion, there was ample warning, despite your disbelief, and the cause of Atlanta's failure WAS several million idiots (including the school board, the mayor, the governor) getting on the roads and ignoring the NWS.

Edit: Clearly I can go back-and-forth with you on this issue ad nauseam without making any headway into your thinking process.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10480
48. yoboi
5:17 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 46. Astrometeor:
Then you have another issue, one that's probably not a major player for Atlanta, but as yoboi suggests, for the Deep South. That's ignorance. People not knowing what winter weather can do, or not knowing how to properly face sleet, ice, and snow can be a major factor. Not really much one can do about ignorance, other than educating the masses way ahead of time.

Then there's complacency. These systems are rare for the South, and people tend to get complacent and/or forgetful and/or bold about themselves...to the extent that hundreds of wrecks or even gridlock occurs unnecessarily during these kinds of events.

Aren't our coastal bloggers worried about complacency due to the lack of landfalling hurricanes in recent years to the Gulf Coast? Same issue.


correct....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2592
47. yoboi
5:17 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 45. TropicalAnalystwx13:




My meteorologist friends are saying things like, “Atlanta was well warned”. But if that were true, the only conclusion has to be that a couple million stupid people all decided to get on the road at the same time and create an apocalyptic nightmare. And in that couple of million, by the way, would be the governor, the mayor, the department of transportation, the school board and everybody else who didn’t get the message that a life-threatening event was in the making.



Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2592
46. Astrometeor
5:15 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Then you have another issue, one that's probably not a major player for Atlanta, but as yoboi suggests, for the Deep South. That's ignorance. People not knowing what winter weather can do, or not knowing how to properly face sleet, ice, and snow can be a major factor. Not really much one can do about ignorance, other than educating the masses way ahead of time.

Then there's complacency. These systems are rare for the South, and people tend to get complacent and/or forgetful and/or bold about themselves...to the extent that hundreds of wrecks or even gridlock occurs unnecessarily during these kinds of events.

Aren't our coastal bloggers worried about complacency due to the lack of landfalling hurricanes in recent years to the Gulf Coast? Same issue.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10480
45. TropicalAnalystwx13
5:12 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 43. yoboi:


Probably because the time of day the "warning" went out....same thing happened here in my section of Louisiana just this past fri...over 500 accidents many fatalities....because the warning was too late people already going to work....
Quoting 41. TropicalAnalystwx13:

That does not change the fact, and further supports, that this disaster was a result of the local government. An unknown number of cities began preparing for this system when a Winter Storm Watch was issued. Why didn't Atlanta?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32811
44. yoboi
5:11 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 42. Astrometeor:


No. You seem to be thinking that the city has to put out physical barriers and physically stop the masses from going in. This is the digital age. Just send out a mass text, alert, e-mail to the news media, to Facebook and twitter, and one can get a message across in minutes flat.

The times were about an hour for the schools to decide and close, that itself would keep most people home with their children. The 8 hours are useful for the working class without children. They (theoretically) could still have gone about for several hours and do last-minute item shopping and get back to their homes with plenty of time before onset of bad driving conditions.



Well if that's the case you should write to the NHC and advise them to lower their timeframe when they issue hurricane warnings....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2592
43. yoboi
5:08 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 41. TropicalAnalystwx13:

That does not change the fact, and supports, that this disaster was a result of the local government. An unknown number of cities began preparing for this system when a Winter Storm Watch was issued. Why didn't Atlanta?


Probably because the time of day the "warning" went out....same thing happened here in my section of Louisiana just this past fri...over 500 accidents many fatalities....because the warning was too late people already going to work....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2592
42. Astrometeor
5:06 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 40. yoboi:



I figure it would take more than an hr to shut down the city of Atlanta.... You know before the majority of your citizens will be on the road....


No. You seem to be thinking that the city has to put out physical barriers and physically stop the masses from going in. This is the digital age. Just send out a mass text, alert, e-mail to the news media, to Facebook and twitter, and one can get a message across in minutes flat.

The times were about an hour for the schools to decide and close, that itself would keep most people home with their children. The 8 hours are useful for the working class without children. They (theoretically) could still have gone about for several hours and do last-minute item shopping and get back to their homes with plenty of time before onset of bad driving conditions.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10480
41. TropicalAnalystwx13
5:03 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 40. yoboi:



I figure it would take more than an hr to shut down the city of Atlanta.... You know before the majority of your citizens will be on the road....

That does not change the fact, and further supports, that this disaster was a result of the local government. An unknown number of cities began preparing for this system when a Winter Storm Watch was issued. Why didn't Atlanta?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32811
40. yoboi
5:02 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 38. TropicalAnalystwx13:

Which, again, is the fault of the local officials, not the meteorologists. The Atlanta mayor was given ample warning, yet he chose not to act.



I figure it would take more than an hr to shut down the city of Atlanta.... You know before the majority of your citizens will be on the road....
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2592
39. Astrometeor
4:58 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 14. ncstorm:
From the governor-USA Today

"The forecast path of the storm changed. In the days leading up to the storm, forecasters said the brunt of it would hit south of the city. By early Tuesday, Deal said, Atlanta meteorologists predicted a storm path farther north, but the governor said storm plans were made on the earlier forecasts from the National Weather Service. Tuesday morning, when fairly heavy snow started falling north of the city, people started hitting the roads. DOT Commissioner Keith Golden said many of the department's road-clearing crews were stationed in communities east and south of the Atlanta metro. When the storm hit Atlanta, those crews headed to the city and got stuck in traffic, too.."

so what happened between the hours of 3:38 am when the watch was changed to a warning and the dismissal of everyone..neither office for the NWS or the Local govts bother to pick up a phone and say hey we need to rethink our strategy as there are new parameters in play now..

the blame is on both the NWS and the Local Govt..

and whoever decided the genius plan of having everyone leave at the same time should be fired..


NWS issues warnings and posts discussions for everyone to see. If someone in the government has a question, there are things called phones to help them.

The contingency failure of Atlanta rests solely with the local government failing to heed the warnings.

On the part of everyone leaving at the same time...that's a collective failure on the people. Is there anything to prevent such a stampede of vehicles? No...unless the government specifically blocks certain areas of the city from leaving. Which is a whole issue entirely, one that should never come up.

The fact that no citizen seemed to show a critical thought process that day (as in take off a day from work/school because a major storm is brewing) is astounding in itself, but somewhat expected unfortunately due to how people tend to act.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10480
38. TropicalAnalystwx13
4:56 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 37. yoboi:



Many people were already on there way to work and the warning was about 1 hr before major traffic on the roadway.....The 8 hrs is misleading...

Which, again, is the fault of the local officials, not the meteorologists. The Atlanta mayor was given ample warning, yet he chose not to act.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32811
37. yoboi
4:53 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 35. TropicalAnalystwx13:

Yes.

Brian, I disagree with the statement, "My meteorologist friends are saying things like, 'Atlanta was well warned'. But if that were true, the only conclusion has to be that a couple million stupid people all decided to get on the road at the same time and create an apocalyptic nightmare."

It doesn't matter how much information the National Weather Service conveys to the mayor of Atlanta and governor of Georgia. You could do so until you're blue in the face. It's what they choose to do with that information, and obviously, they didn't choose responsibly. A Winter Storm Watch went up Monday morning, which was later upgraded to a Winter Weather Advisory. A Winter Storm Warning was issued a full 8 hours before the start of snow in Atlanta. They were plenty warned.



Many people were already on there way to work and the warning was about 1 hr before major traffic on the roadway.....The 8 hrs is misleading...
Member Since: August 25, 2010 Posts: 7 Comments: 2592
36. CosmicEvents
4:50 AM GMT on January 30, 2014

Quoting 28. DonnieBwkGA:
CosmicEvents that's simply not true. The discussions and forecasts out of the Atlanta NWS on Monday and Monday night mentioned ice on roads frequently. They're still up if you care to read them.
Thanks Donnie. I had already read them, but the link you give is a good one for anyone who wants to read on their own and decide for themselves what's true or not. This is not an exact science and by it's nature even the best will at times err.
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5684
35. TropicalAnalystwx13
4:49 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 29. Squirrelygirl87:
The NWS had been warning everyone about the potential for the storm for a few days. No one listened. This is the result. Everyone EXCEPT the NWS is to blame here.

Yes.

Brian, I disagree with the statement, "My meteorologist friends are saying things like, 'Atlanta was well warned'. But if that were true, the only conclusion has to be that a couple million stupid people all decided to get on the road at the same time and create an apocalyptic nightmare."

It doesn't matter how much information the National Weather Service conveys to the mayor of Atlanta and governor of Georgia. You could do so until you're blue in the face. It's what they choose to do with that information, and obviously, they didn't choose responsibly. A Winter Storm Watch went up Monday morning, which was later upgraded to a Winter Weather Advisory. A Winter Storm Warning was issued a full 8 hours before the start of snow in Atlanta. They were plenty warned.
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32811
34. Astrometeor
4:44 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 20. CosmicEvents:
There's blame for all....but it could have been a better forecast for the EOM officials to act on....except the forecast from the NWS and the TWC mets both left out the possibility of ICE developing quickly. They were warned about quickly developing  ICY roads in NOLA and other points south, and east, but not inland metro areas..


Different type of ice accumulation. For the coastal areas, the NWS meant sleet and freezing rain. For Atlanta, that's melted snow that refreezes. The government for Atlanta and the governor should know that even without the NWS telling them specifically.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10480
33. RenoSoHill
4:31 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Quoting 21. palmettobug53:
Well stated post, Mr. Norcross. I agree wholeheartedly.


Ditto!
Member Since: December 12, 2009 Posts: 7 Comments: 11425
32. Patrap
3:33 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
My best Winter Storm LEON Humor moment goes to Jim Cantore on bringing a whole new meaning of the Seasonal Play, "The Nutcracker" to the LIVE shot.

Most egg-cellent.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129817
31. GatorWX
2:58 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
Nice interview on RMS. Have to say that I agree 100%. There is such a thin line here in the south regarding rain/frozen precip and where it will fall. It's a rare occurrence. I will say that this event was forecast well in advance and certain areas should have been better prepared. Preparation is always cheaper than cleaning up and in the Atlanta Metro, they're certainly cleaning up. I was very unamused by GA's Gov. protesting NWS and tossing the blame on them. It was interesting watching this storm unfold. I saw models days in advance showing a considerable threat and though they switched around a bit, much came true. It's unfortunate politicians have such a difficult time balancing science, politics and business. Thanks Bryan!
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 3798
30. lowb35
2:45 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
I just moved to NOLA and witnessed first hand how the city--and the surrounding parishes--handled this storm. We had just gone through a much less severe weather event just a few days prior to this which closed down most of the southern portion of the state for anywhere between 24-48 hours depending on the location and the amount of frozen precipitation they received. The state DOT and local governments did a commendable job closing down dangerous roads that first time around too, but despite the advance warning, most people still worked that day and and there were thousands of accidents across the state, some fatal. Nothing along the lines of what was seen in Birmingham or Atlanta though.

This time around people heeded the warnings to stay home and more importantly, schools, agencies and businesses closed that didn't close during ice storm #1. There were some accidents but not even as many as during normal weather and traffic days.

There is only so much preparation they can do here since there isn't the infrastructure or machinery to treat and plow the roads as they do further north. I spoke to life-long residents and this was the most severe winter weather event many of them had ever seen in their lifetimes.

It could have been much worse if people were out and about in it. Of course, the fact that we have very few major arteries across the southern part of our state, and many of them are elevated and/or bottleneck through Baton Rouge, meant that driving was so limited that people had little choice but to wait it out.
Member Since: March 13, 2003 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
29. Squirrelygirl87
2:04 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
The NWS had been warning everyone about the potential for the storm for a few days. No one listened. This is the result. Everyone EXCEPT the NWS is to blame here.
Member Since: January 30, 2014 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
28. DonnieBwkGA
12:16 AM GMT on January 30, 2014
CosmicEvents that's simply not true. The discussions and forecasts out of the Atlanta NWS on Monday and Monday night mentioned ice on roads frequently. They're still up if you care to read them.
Member Since: June 29, 2013 Posts: 36 Comments: 2596
27. mermaidlaw
11:30 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Good communication among all people is essential to our survival. That is my opinion.
And I don't mean shooting out a Text message!

I hope that lessons will be learned from what has happened in Atlanta.

I Pray for all that have suffered from this event!
Member Since: July 23, 2006 Posts: 20 Comments: 8820
26. palmettobug53
11:25 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
You've been scanning posts too swiftly, pcola!

It's quite a common phenomenon here on WU; things can sometimes move so fast, you can't catch it all.
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25384
25. pcola57
11:17 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Quoting 23. palmettobug53:
Pat's been using that one for quite some time. I like it!


I guess I missed that somewhere along the line palmettobug..Lol..
As much as I'm on here you would think I would have seen that..Lol..
Stuff goes right over my head sometimes.. :p

Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6915
24. Patrap
11:17 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
I have to give my Sr. Drill Instructor from USMC Boot Camp Credit for dat. SSgt Ochoa. 3rd Btl. Plt 3070, MCRD San Diego 1980

I jus modified it a tad.

; )
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129817
23. palmettobug53
11:15 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Pat's been using that one for quite some time. I like it!
Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25384
22. pcola57
11:14 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Quoting 17. Patrap:
Pat's 7P System is a good one.

1.Prior
2.Proper
3.Planning
4.Prevents
5.Pi**
6.Poor
7.Performance


7 P's..
That's outstanding Pat..
Gonna use that if you don't mind..
Thanks..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6915
21. palmettobug53
10:51 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Well stated post, Mr. Norcross. I agree wholeheartedly.

Member Since: October 7, 2005 Posts: 239 Comments: 25384
20. CosmicEvents
10:46 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
There's blame for all....but it could have been a better forecast for the EOM officials to act on....except the forecast from the NWS and the TWC mets both left out the possibility of ICE developing quickly. They were warned about quickly developing  ICY roads in NOLA and other points south, and east, but not inland metro areas..
Member Since: August 3, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 5684
19. snow2fire
10:41 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Quoting 18. DonnieBwkGA:
There wasn't a breakdown in communication from the NWS end. The discussions were up on the web for all to see. It's the job of mayors and governors (or competent members of their staffs) to look at the official forecasts, not what some blow-dried TV guy says or the latest tweet from some unofficial weather source.



Agreed. There was no breakdown in communication. The NWS communicated watch, advisory, then warning: all of which should have been actionable by the state and locals (find the plan, modify plan for current situation, and implement the plan).

Disaster Relief Rule #1: All disasters are local and the Governor is always in charge.

Although it’s not advisable, I don't think there is anything that would prevent the Governor from doing his own weather forecasting, In this case the Governor said his agencies didn’t believe the NWS forecast and that is why an insufficient response was implemented too late to help. Besides, he was afraid of being wrong.

Based on the Gov’s remarks, I think the citizens of GA are owed an explanation of why the Governor felt that he should ignore the NWS warning and go his own way on preparations for this storm.
Member Since: June 5, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 223
18. DonnieBwkGA
10:26 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
There wasn't a breakdown in communication from the NWS end. The discussions were up on the web for all to see. It's the job of mayors and governors (or competent members of their staffs) to look at the official forecasts, not what some blow-dried TV guy says or the latest tweet from some unofficial weather source.
Member Since: June 29, 2013 Posts: 36 Comments: 2596
17. Patrap
10:22 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Pat's 7P System is a good one.

1.Prior
2.Proper
3.Planning
4.Prevents
5.Pi**
6.Poor
7.Performance
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 428 Comments: 129817
16. Andrebrooks
10:05 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
And ys'll are in Atlanta, they really should've known not to drive or walk in that weather. What is it going to take to have people PAY ATTENTION TO THE WEATHER.
Member Since: March 25, 2013 Posts: 30 Comments: 1368
15. jrvcace
10:05 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Transitioning from a Winter Storm Watch to a Winter Weather Advisory is NOT a "lowering." A Winter Storm Watch is meant to transition to either a Winter Storm Warning OR a Winter Weather Advisory. The watch the NWS Atlanta office put out early Monday morning called for 0.5"-2" of snow in the Atlanta area. They transitioned to an Advisory because they were forecasting 0.5"-1" of snow for Atlanta, which does not meet their Winter Storm Warning criteria, but it's still within range they listed in the Watch. As stated in the watch itself, "A winter storm watch means there is potential for significant snow...sleet...or ice accumulations that may impact travel." It does NOT say that Winter Storm Warning criteria are necessarily expected. Admittedly their forecast was not perfect, but it's 100% wrong to state that they "lowered" their forecast from a watch to an advisory and therefore any statement that it was a mistake solely for that reason is completely unfounded. It's very unfortunate that someone who has been in the business as long as you have still does not understand this.
Member Since: March 24, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 0
14. ncstorm
9:55 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
From the governor-USA Today

"The forecast path of the storm changed. In the days leading up to the storm, forecasters said the brunt of it would hit south of the city. By early Tuesday, Deal said, Atlanta meteorologists predicted a storm path farther north, but the governor said storm plans were made on the earlier forecasts from the National Weather Service. Tuesday morning, when fairly heavy snow started falling north of the city, people started hitting the roads. DOT Commissioner Keith Golden said many of the department's road-clearing crews were stationed in communities east and south of the Atlanta metro. When the storm hit Atlanta, those crews headed to the city and got stuck in traffic, too.."

so what happened between the hours of 3:38 am when the watch was changed to a warning and the dismissal of everyone..neither office for the NWS or the Local govts bother to pick up a phone and say hey we need to rethink our strategy as there are new parameters in play now..

the blame is on both the NWS and the Local Govt..

and whoever decided the genius plan of having everyone leave at the same time should be fired..
Member Since: August 19, 2006 Posts: 13 Comments: 16223
13. snow2fire
9:50 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Quoting 9. sar2401:

pcola, I don't think that was quite Mr Norcross's point. It was that, between the NWS and decision makers in emergency management, government, and school districts, there was a breakdown in communication that caused this mess. We need to figure out better ways to help non-meteorologists understand risk, which is much different than probabilty.


Risk = probability x consequence

As consequences increase, lower probability events can, and sometimes do, bite you in the butt.
Member Since: June 5, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 223
12. pcola57
9:47 PM GMT on January 29, 2014

Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6915
11. pcola57
9:46 PM GMT on January 29, 2014
Quoting 9. sar2401:

pcola, I don't think that was quite Mr Norcross's point. It was that, between the NWS and decision makers in emergency management, government, and school districts, there was a breakdown in communication that caused this mess. We need to figure out better ways to help non-meteorologists understand risk, which is much different than probabilty.


MY point is personalities and ego's have no place in these situations sar..
I get Brians point..
If I didn't..
I would not have posted anything..
Thanks anyway..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6915

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This is the official blog for Bryan Norcross, Hurricane Specialist at The Weather Channel.

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