I learned many years ago after moving to Georgia from Chicago to never make fun of the way Southerners drive in snow and ice. Three months after I started work at Channel 2 News, I was assigned to do a live report from I-75 and Windy Hill Road in Cobb County on the morning snow was expected to hit metro Atlanta. The night before, my news director called me at home: "Bill," he said, "We are probably going to get about 1/2 inch of snow overnight. You will be tempted to laugh it off as not a big deal in your live shot. Don't do that. Even 1/2 inch can shut down Atlanta and people here take this VERY seriously!" He was correct, of course. Since that long ago snow "storm" in the winter of 1983, I've seen how we can be paralyzed by even the smallest accumulations of snow.
Being the Chicagoan that I am, I did make my way into the studios of GPB this morning, driving on streets that were sheer ice. It wasn't a pleasant drive. But I am so glad that my wife Janece, born and raised here in Atlanta, is not going out in her car at all today...and I'm even more relieved that our daughter, a new driver, doesn't have to make her way to school today.
Given that we have one or at most two snow events a winter, I won't pretend I understand whether it makes sense for the state or cities around Georgia to make significant investments in snow removal equipment. Still it is truly astonishing to see the stories about thousands and thousands of drivers, school children and others who were stranded for many hours - and in a lot of cases overnight - on highways, in restaurants, school buildings - far from their homes. It's no wonder that people look for someone to blame for when they realize they are totally at the mercy of a couple of inches of snow and ice.
Blame the governor; blame the mayor; blame the weather forecasters who were dealing with data that kept changing through Monday night and Tuesday morning; blame school officials who surely could have closed school for the entire day yesterday; blame yourself for not being prescient enough to simply call in sick yesterday. And maybe there is some blame to go around.
But as for me, I'd rather give the credit (or blame) to Mother Nature, for showing me once again - as I've learned in covering hurricanes, tornadoes, floods - that she can be a trickster who packs a powerful punch.
I hope you all stay safe and warm today. And remember, the baseball season starts in only about two 1/2 months!