Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Atlanta's Refusal to Learn From the Past... Mayor Reed Georgian of the Year & a Tweeting Governor Blaming the WXR Models

There is so much to say I am not sure where to begin. To be honest I am almost speechless that neither the Mayor of Atlanta nor the Governor of Georgia would do anything but "throw the weathermen under the bus." They blamed the weather, Mother Nature and the National Weather Service rather than failing to plan for a repeat of the traffic crisis that crippled Atlanta during the 2011 Snow Storm.

George Santayana who was born in Madrid in 1863 is well known for the often repeated and misquoted saying "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."  That saying perfectly describes the problems apparent in yesterday's weather related chaotic traffic jam in Atlanta. Yes, yesterday it snowed and yet traffic is always a problem in Atlanta. Yesterday, much like 2011, people were stranded over night and abandoned their cars... their children often stranded at school.

Time is supposed to be the great teacher and healer,  yet yesterday just 3 years after an epic failure of the Atlanta infrastructure to prepare for a snow storm Atlanta was once again shut down by another epic traffic jam leaving people stranded on the highway and small children stranded overnight in their schools.

According to CNN Breaking News:
"One person died and 130 were injured in Georgia in Tuesday's storm. At least 1,254 accidents were reported."

Three years past and it seems as if nothing was learned from the problems of January 2011 despite having the Mayor. To be fair Mayor Reed insists he has upgraded the city's ability to respond in a snow storm, however this was not his fault. He blamed individual decisions by different entities to send employees home all at the same time. While that may be true, in absence of a better plan to coordinate those different entities to work together communicating with each other and directed by an Emergency Management Department chaos will and did ensue.

Check out the definition of chaos:

1.complete disorder and confusion.
"snow caused chaos in the region"
synonyms: disorder, disarray, disorganization, confusion, mayhem, bedlam, pandemonium, havoc, turmoil, tumult, commotion, disruption, upheaval, uproar, maelstrom; muddle, mess, shambles, free-for-all; anarchy, lawlessness, entropy; informalhullabaloo, hoopla, train wreck, all hell broken loose
"police were called in to quell the chaos"

In this case the National Guard was called in to quell the chaos and get people safely home.

"Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said National Guard troops and state police will escort buses to take home some 2,400 children stuck in Atlanta-area schools after Tuesday's snowstorm that paralyzed area roads."

The situation became more chaotic today as both the Mayor and the Governor took turns addressing the public. I listened earlier to Press Conferences given by the Mayor of Atlanta as well as the Governor of Georgia. The Mayor blamed it on the schools and businesses releasing everyone at the same time. He blamed it on a lot of things and as Mayors often do he passed the buck along to the State. The Governor took an interesting tack and blamed it on bad forecasting by the NWS and bad "modeling" not to mention the big tractor trailers on the highway. Hmnnn

The Governor of Georgia went on to insist that he has his own weather sources (unnamed) who indicated privately to him that the NWS was wrong and their modeling was wrong.  Everyone in the weather world playfully wondering who the Governor had been talking to? Maybe one day he will name his sources which might become a  controversy called SNOWGATE! I know back in the old days of AOL people at the NWS and the NHC would go on AOL under names like SNOWCANE and GidgetStorm and talk weather off the record saying things they couldn't say in their weather discussion at their good government jobs. They also used to play dungeons and dragons... time moved on and now they speak on Twitter. Maybe the Governor was watching his Twitter Feed? Hard to say..........People say that a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing and it seems the Governor's little bit of knowledge of  "modeling" was indeed a dangerous thing. Yes, it is true he needed to worry on Savannah down on the coast that might deal with a rare Ice Storm. do you not protect your Queen?  As Atlanta is the country's 9th largest metropolitan area...he should have been more concerned with Atlanta especially after the chaos of the 2011 Snow Jam.

Governor Deal went on to create a weather storm online as people tweeted things I won't say here on my blog but that raised a lot of questions as to what was he thinking??? Let's put it this way. The Governor's Press Conference made the Mayor's interview with CNN look good.......

Some of the better comments on Twitter are shown below as an example of how he lit up the weather community that is online often on Twitter‎. Meteorologists do love to talk, exchange ideas and basically talk weather all day, 24/7, 365 days a year....

Jim Loznicka WGCL ‏@jimwxgator 4h
Gov. Nathan Deal now speaking to the media: "Weather modeling didn't predict ATL would get hit..." Meteorologists got thrown under the bus

Bryan Norcross ‏@TWCBryan 4h
The GA governor has never heard of a snow day like every northern city and school system.  A big snow is never guaranteed! But safety first.

Bryan Norcross ‏@TWCBryan 4h
They never even considered keeping people home yesterday.  It gets worse and worse.

PoliticalJones ‏@PoliticalJones 5h
#AURN MT @11AliveNews: Gov. Deal: I did not mean to imply that the state was unprepared. Weather modeling didn't predict ATL would get hit

Amy Voss ‏@AmyStorey 5h
Gov. Deal continues to blame forecast. "Snow came in higher quantity than modeling anticipated." WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE ASSUME? #atlantasnow

Ryan Maue ‏@RyanMaue 4h
@USWeatherExpert until I hear where/who Deal (if anyone) got his meteorology information, or his staff & Kasim Reed's ...

 Ryan Maue ‏@RyanMaue 4h
@USWeatherExpert how do we KNOW that "meteorologists got it right" we don't know who was advising Deal and Reed, do we?  Remember Bloomberg

Governor Nathan Deal ‏@GovernorDeal 9h

Deal reported that @GeorgiaGuard & troopers worked to get all children off buses: 99 buses at midnight, 45 buses at 1:30AM, zero buses by AM

I was honored to introduced Mayor as he was named 2014 Georgian of the Year. Congratulations. -ND

As I said...the Governor may have gotten his weather advice on Twitter as he seems to be online often.

Seems at his press conference where he threw the NWS under the bus ...he failed to mention what an honor it was to introduce the Mayor of Atlanta for his big award as Georgian of the Year... 

Yes...that is what I said. Really you can't make this stuff up................................... an old boyfriend used to say... "you win some, you lose a lot" 

Back at the ranch in Raleigh...

This is the view out my window today... and as I sit here staring out at the snow I'm trying to make some sense of this all. It really makes no sense.  I am sitting in bed typing this out while staring out occasionally at the yard here in Raleigh that is cloaked in more than 2 inches of powdery, packed snow. Funny how snow on the ground can make a Miami girl so happy. More snow is a much hated sight to many of my kids who live up north who are dreaming on Spring....or just less snow. To me seeing the snow on the ground is a touch of winter heaven. I live part of my time here and travel to Miami often. I passed on the chance to go back to Miami last week, because I knew from the models that it would most likely snow in Raleigh this week. And, if it didn't snow this storm... maybe the following storm. We had snow flurries falling earlier in the winter and a few weeks back we had a light dusting of snow. Obviously this year is a year when it's going to snow and traffic jams are in the news from New Jersey to Atlanta. First Governor Christie explaining his side of his traffic jam problems, now the Governor of Georgia. What next?

Raleigh is just up the Piedmont Road geographically speaking from Atlanta. From Atlanta the storms threaten Charlotte and then Raleigh and then they move on up the road to Virginia. After the massive chaos that followed a half an inch of snow in 2005 when the forecasters missed the boat totally the city here errs always on the side of caution. The reason given for cancelling school on Tuesday was that they didn't want to run the risk of the storm coming in early and having children stranded again on buses on their way home or worse stranded at school. Raleigh never wants another rerun of 2005. You would think Atlanta wouldn't have wanted a replay of 2011...

This is not the first time this has happened in Atlanta and it obviously won't be the last time. Atlanta is not Tampa.. it gets a good snow fall once every 3 years. To say that it is not worth preparing  "more better" as we say down south is silly! If I told you "Miami only gets a tropical storm or hurricane once every 3 years, why should I buy awnings or watch the Tropical Update?" You would think I was NUTS!

Miami went from 1965 to 1992 without having a real Hurricane make landfall and trust me everyone watched their local weather person every year, every night and waited for that one tropical wave that might have Miami's name on it. Miami went 27 years without a major hurricane and still people in Miami  bought hurricane supplies, tracked each storm  and never let their guard down. To be fair some newcomers were taken unaware and some caught off guard... but not many. The media plays up the storms nonstop when a Hurricane is anywhere near Miami... or the Caribbean..

In 1987 Hurricane Floyd, barely a Hurricane, came in from the SW and had such a little effect on Miami that we were able to drive through rain squalls to the doctor for my toddler to get stitches for a cut he got jumping on his grandmother's sofa where I went to "ride out the storm" but instead found myself riding out into the storm which was barely as bad as a regular afternoon thunderstorm.   Long sentence I know.. trust me it was a longer night....

Why would a city the size of Atlanta that has snow every 3 years choose to ignore this storm or any winter storm? I guess they don't read my blog.. I said they would get snow!

Note what I wrote in my blog the day before the Southern Snowstorm.

"Further inland in Georgia is Atlanta. 
Atlanta... Messy, very messy wintry mix..

"Tuesday Snow likely before 5pm, then snow and sleet. High near 28. North wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow and sleet accumulation of less than one inch possible. 

Tuesday Night Snow and sleet, becoming all snow after 8pm. Low around 18. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

Wednesday A 20 percent chance of light snow before 8am. Mostly sunny, with a high near 37. Northwest wind 10 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 20 mph. 

Wednesday Night Clear, with a low around 16."

I have no answers. But, I know if I lived in Atlanta after what happened in 2011 I would have chosen to stay home from work... keep my kids home "just in case" and stayed off the roads early in the day. I know that because I did it many times in Miami even when an employer read me the riot act for staying home in a non-show Tropical Storm.

Let's go back to Hurricane Ernesto 2006

File:Ernesto 2006 track.png

In 2006 Ernesto took aim at Miami. I had a leaky roof from the Hurricanes of 2005 and a new job at a local College. I stayed home. Late in the day when I saw the storm was not going to be much and the house was going to be okay and the danger passed I did go to the beach with my youngest son to watch the waves and enjoy some quality time with him. First I needed to make sure that my kids and my house were okay. My boss was annoyed, he reminded me that the NHC downgraded it to a "tropical depression" which is true.. but it just as easily could have been upgraded to a stronger storm. Hindsight is 20-20. He obviously was not concerned about my roof, my kids or my house.. I had to be. We weren't supposed to get much from Hurricane Irene in 1999 and we had flooding beyond anything we could ever imagine.

You don't have to bring down Greek Gods from Heaven like in old Greek Dramas to tell you how to solve the problem...this isn't rocket science but it's taking on the tone of a farce....

In today's world of APPS, Blogs, TWC, CNN, FOX, local news, Drudge.. pick your news source you know a storm of some kind is on the way and you have to be aware of the consequences. Many of my readers are people who have gotten burned before in a busted weather forecast and like to feel that knowledge is power and the more knowledge the better. They remember Hurricane Betsy turning South in 1965.. They remember being told Andrew was going to the Carolinas and not a Miami storm. They remember getting 8 inches of snow on a day that the forecasters said they would probably get a light dusting. Busted forecasts are really pretty rare... but you remember them forever. Usually they leave a lasting impression on your psyche!

Weather is weather and by it's nature it is unpredictable and a forecast is a future cast and has no hindsight.
Time goes by and you choose who to believe and who you trust. And, sometimes you trust too much and sometimes you don't trust enough. Sometimes you gain five pounds from eating the hurricane supplies that you thought you would need that year ... but no hurricane came to your house. You buy awnings and you go five years or ten years without a hurricane hitting. And, you pay for Insurance every year in case this coming year is THE YEAR when the worst case scenario might happen. And, one day the worst case scenario does happen.

Why winter weather in places like Atlanta, Raleigh and Dallas should be any different I don't know. They all get snow..  Miami, Tampa and Key West do not get snow.. and if they do it's flakes falling from the sky and melting on contact with the palm fronds. Charleston had both a hurricane and a snow storm in 1989!

And... I won't begin wax poetic or ramble on about the New Madrid Fault and how one day it is going to go SNAP and create a massive mess down the middle of the country that could be felt as far away as Florida and Washington DC. It will happen one day!

In 2011 Atlanta was shut down by Winter Weather and a MASSIVE Traffic Jam!

This video shows what happened back in 2011 in Atlanta.

This article discusses the problems Atlanta has with snow.

A brief list of just some of the top snow events in recent Atlanta history mentioned in the article linked above:

1940 Atlanta saw 8.3 inches of snow on January 23.
March 1960 Atlanta and much of North Georgia had as much as 10 inches.
January 1973 had an Ice Storm leaving much of the city powerless.
Jan. 12, 1982 there was "Snow Jam" with 7 inches of snow over 3 days.
1993 was the infamous Super Storm & Atlanta had a foot of snow.
2000 during Super Bowl week in Atlanta it was an icy mess.
2009 Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport had 3.9 inches of snow.
2011...Snow Traffic Jam that Atlanta did not learn from.....
2014 ...Mother Nature did it again....

 I am sure I will blog on this in depth again as more facts come to light and the snow settles so to speak. I will speak on this in New Orleans in March when I speak at the Mariposa Conference. It's a timely issue and one that never seems to go away.

There is a constant disconnect between people and sometimes government officials with the reality of Mother Nature and the havoc she can and will wreak upon a population that wants to believe the worst case scenario won't ever happen.

It happens.

Hurricane Andrew 1992:

Andrew hit the Bulls Eye.

It is just mind boggling that a major metropolitan city did not properly prepare for a small snow episode of less than 3 inches. That is what we have emergency planners for...

Bringing this blog back to the tropics... take a look at what happened in Miami in 1999 with Irene.

Miami learned it's lesson in 1999 when Hurricane Irene moved towards South Florida forecast to make landfall along the southwest coast of Florida. Even though all of South Florida was inside the  cone, Jim Cantore was sent to the Naples area.  Miami wasn't expected to get much out of Irene. Many people in Miami are used to reading satellite imagery and noticed that the stronger weather from Irene was consistently on the East side of the storm and it looked as if the storm was moving directly towards Miami not Naples on the West Coast.  Bryan Norcross taught us well in Miami to watch the Water Vapor Loop and the various models shown on the News.

At one point early on models had showed Irene hitting everywhere from New Orleans to Miami.

Miami was not directly in the official path of Irene... but everyone was worried it was coming. As we were not directly in the path and only forecast to have minimal winds from the storm life went along as normal. Miamians don't worry much about Tropical Depression conditions.  I went to work... to a job that was 11 blocks from the house....someone came into the store where I was working and informed me that my kids were out in the street playing football in high winds and heavy rain. My boss told me "Go! Go home!" 

 Kids... they never listen. There was a young adult home and I was close by, still it was annoying. The day got more annoying as it began to rain so strong that water was seeping in at the base of the floor where the terrazzo met the wall itself. Our street that was not prone to flooding was flooding too much for the kids to even consider playing football outside again.  Being as it was Friday night I went about mopping up water and cooking a Sabbath dinner. My son who was 17 and working in Broward County told me he was on his way home on a bus. The bus stop was a half mile away from the house and the water in the street was getting higher and higher; heavy rain kept falling. TWC kept insisting that despite the fact the the "center of Hurricane Irene" was making it's way towards the "West Coast of Florida" where Jim Cantore was waiting on the beach in relatively clear skies... the "weather mass" was headed towards Miami.

Their actual track showing where Irene was making landfall. It's one image in their official report that does not tell the whole story but it does verify their forecast.

Miami was a mess and those who only go by the official warnings were at a loss for what to do.

Then Mayor Alex Penelas went on TV live and begged employers to let their employees go home to be with their children as the schools had changed their minds and decided to let students go home early. And the Mayor was worried on a dangerous traffic jam at rush hour as weather was deteriorating rapidly. Fast thinking and an ability to  take responsibility and action on air helped make a bad situation somewhat better than it might have been.  Things had changed and the Mayor was working in real time, not in hind sight and he was right as the situation did get much worse for Miami.
Five people were killed, some children, from electrocutions of wires downed in flooding neighborhood waters.

"Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas urged employers to let workers go home early to ease traffic. "It's like a permanent high tide."The flood waters left cars stalled in the streets and thwarted drivers' attempts to get home. Officials said 18 inches of rain fell Friday.

Michael LaCombe, 21, was trying to drive from his job in Miami to his home 12 miles north in Aventura when his car conked out. "This is ridiculous," a soaked LaCombe said after pushing his car out of shin-deep water. "I should have called in sick."
The storm moved through the Florida Keys and rolled ashore Friday afternoon near Cape Sable, 75 miles southwest of Miami."
Note the salient part of this article below ... 

1. Miami Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas took control.
2. People realized they should have stayed home.

Note the high totals were NOT on the West Coast of Florida ....

You can't even SEE South Florida on this map and one picture does not tell a story.
It does not tell MY story.. because in ALL my years in South Florida I have never seen such a WET storm.
Such a messy, flooding storm and such a mess concerning the forecasting of the landfall.

A storm ... any storm.. be in a Hurricane or a Tropical Storm or a Snow Storm is not a neat entity that can easily be tracked down to every minute detail. Storms travel fluid in real time and they don't always read their press releases or pay any attention to their advisories.

When the NHC shows a Cone and you are in the cone or even near the cone you have to know that there is a chance that you will deal with that storm up close and personal.

When you are on the edge of a winter advisory you have to know that a storm can shift a mere 20 or 30 miles in track and suddenly your town will be the one with the highest snow fall totals. 

A storm is not a size 8 shoe and everyone who likes to shop for shoes knows that one designer's size 8 may not be another designer's size 8. 

And, at some point you have make a decision for yourself.
Miami was not directly in the cross hairs of the forecast for Irene.
Atlanta was told this snow storm was coming...the same way Raleigh was told it was coming.
Yes, there was a lot of talk about the coastal cities getting a rare ice or snow event...but Atlanta was always forecast to get a snow sometime on Tuesday.

CNN said Atlanta was in the cross hairs. 
TWC said the storm would impact Atlanta.
NWS said that Atlanta would be in it.

The timing was off and the storm came in early, but storms sometimes come in early. Timing is always off... storms move slower, storms move faster...they are fluid. They are the greatest reality show on earth.

I'm at a loss to understand how after 2011 the City of Atlanta and the State of Georgia and the various School Systems did not find a way to make sure that such chaos would not happen again.

To make this MORE bizarre is the irony that both the Mayor and the Governor were at an affair where the Mayor was being named "Georgian of the Year" as his city was under siege by a snow storm no one had a plan for...despite the problems of 2011 when he was Mayor.

I'm sure there will be more to say on this down the road... 

Funny neither the Governor nor the Mayor mentioned the luncheon during their press conferences today.

Tonight it just seems crazy.... totally crazy.

AGAIN... let me say it one more time:

Bryan Norcross has a few things to say on this.

Many people have things to say...the debate will rage on and winter this winter is  far from over. It's going to get worse, before it gets better. And, then comes Spring...and floods and twisters and then Hurricanes. Time doesn't wait for Mother Nature... weather is always happening and we always need to be prepared to protect our loved ones.

And, read the blog post from yesterday that shows the differences between the way Raleigh handled the sow storm and Atlanta so poorly handled the same snow storm.
Besos Bobbi
The Next Winter Storm the models are predicting... ( a very good of my favorites)