Posted: 8:48 am Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Top weather guy to those who talk of ‘unexpected’ Snowjam: ‘Wrong, wrong, and wrong!’ 

By Jim Galloway

Above is a YouTube clip of Al Roker of NBC’s “Today,” calling out Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed this morning on what Roker termed a reluctant response to Tuesday’s paralysing snow.

Roker’s not alone. Marshall Shepherd, a University of Georgia professor and president of the American Meteorological Society, just published a blog post that puts on notice those public officials who have described themselves as surprised by Tuesday’s snow:

SheperdMarshall-23686-121_260_220_220_90_bor2_98AFB8_s_c1

Marshall Shepherd, UGA professor and president of the American Meteorological Society

As I watch the fallout from the Snow Fiasco in the Atlanta area, one thing is clear to me: “The buses had a tough time getting kids home, but meteorologists should not be thrown under the bus.”

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Atlanta issued Watches and Warnings BEFORE the event and provided ample time for decisions to be made.  Yet, as soon as I saw what was unfolding with kids being stranded in schools, 6+ hour commutes, and other horror stories, I knew it was coming, I knew it.

Some in the public, social media or decision-making positions would “blame” the meteorologists.  I began to hear things like “this was not expected in Atlanta” or “they said this was going to all be South of Atlanta” or “there were no Watches or Warnings until snow started falling or “weather is just unpredictable”.  Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, and Wrong!

Certainly, the above might apply to Gov. Nathan Deal, who opened a late-night press conference on Tuesday with this: “As you know, we have been confronted with an unexpected storm that has hit the metropolitan area.” Specifically, Shepherd’s post details the advance notice that meteorologists provided:

Watches and Warnings were issued in advance of the snow event and with plenty of time for decisions to be made. Here is text directly from the National Weather Service website on MONDAY at 4:55 am:

CLAYTON-COBB-DEKALB-GWINNETT-HENRY-NORTH FULTON-ROCKDALE-

SOUTH FULTON- INCLUDING THE CITIES OF…ATLANTA…CONYERS…DECATUR…

EAST POINT…LAWRENCEVILLE…MARIETTA

455 AM EST MON JAN 27 2014

…WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY MORNING THROUGH

WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON…

Early on Tuesday morning well before the crack of dawn (3:39 am to be exact), the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning with expectations of 1-2 inches of snow. Even for the mountain counties of Georgia, Winter Weather Advisories were issued.

One observation that has become apparent to me is that the public and perhaps some policy officials may not fully understand that a Watch, Warning, or Advisory has very specific meanings. They are not just generic “hey, be on alert” or “hey, get ready” warnings.

But this might be the most applicable paragraph in Shepherd’s message:

We still have challenges in how weather information is consumed, interpreted, or viewed by policymakers and decision-makers. This is ultimately the root of the Atlanta mess from Tuesday, in my view. I don’t believe “anyone” is necessarily to blame. The situation simply points out that we still have challenges in communicating across the science-decisionmaker-public “gap.”

191 comments
mrgiarc
mrgiarc


Al you speak the truth because at 9:00 am the roads and highways were already covered with snow and ice. The area schools would not have opened at all if they had listened to the local and national weather reports the night before. The Governor and the mayor dropped the ball on this one. This is another case of the GOP trying to save money at the expense of the people.

Thunderbolt1989
Thunderbolt1989

All I know is at 7:30 AM Tuesday weather.com and wunderground.com said the high was 41 and there would be 1 inch of snow by Wednesday AM.  All this about warnings is true, but a level 1 warning is not the same as a Level 5 warning.  even with all this technology mother nature threw us a curve ball.  6 hours sooner or 6 hours later non of this would have happened.

theoriginaltruth
theoriginaltruth

What I have not heard one person either local or nationally mention is the effect on events and failures of government like we have just witnessed is the money issue.


We have a Nation that is bankrupt, a state that is cash strapped and a city that is burdened in the same way. With this national climate of a shortage of funds to operate with police, fire and public safety to desired levels of staff and equipment, how can anyone be surprised when there is not enough equipment, salt, sand and the personnel to administer these things. 


I grew up in this city and have laughed along with the rest of us when all the bread and mild disappear from every grocery in sight at every false warning by the so called "expert" weather gurus.....for most of my life. It is a classic case of the "little boy crying wolf".........in the south it has created a not unexpected level of skepticism at the notion of immediate disaster....


Was it horrible and were misjudgments in management common? Absolutely....however the very people that scoff when such warnings are wrong, year after year... rise up in mass to crucify all the authorities when  in hind sight there are such major mistakes made....



And frankly who gives a rats a$$ what a hack and pseudo expert like Al Roker says...it would be fitting for NY to get absolutely crushed this weekend to the extent that not even the players could get to the stadium.........

rnp123
rnp123

Govener Deal stated today that he would take whatever blame was coming his way head on (he accepted blame).  The mayer, however, will not take ANY of the blame.  (Just a tad bit of info for ya).

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

A leader takes responsibility, and it appears that we had none around in this mess. On Monday the Governor stated that they had learned from the 2011 storm, and that all would be well this time. My weather radio went off just before 4 AM yesterday morning and the message was crystal clear, with the timing, downfall, duration, temperatures and locations spot on, sent in plenty of time for officials to take action. At 3:30 PM yesterday GEMA was still not up and running, and our alleged leaders were still doing little to nothing. I don't particularly care about politics, but these guys have failed us, period. Then of course there was Genius Joe Citizen, neither listening nor thinking, going out and slip sliding away......

bsuboy
bsuboy

another problem i have seen because i have a few Facebook friends that live in the Carolina's, is that they simply didn't believe it was going to happen. they were on the beach, posting pictures about how warm it was and how it was impossible that it was  going to snow. i am a meteorology student and i was watching this from monday and knew it was going to happen, they wouldn't even believe me when i told them. so its also the citizens faults for not listening to what the meteorologists were saying. and as a future meteorologist, this is scary because what if lives were truly at risk and they didn't listen to you. 

WaltGekko
WaltGekko

And now the blame game begins.  I wonder what forecasts those people were seeing:

Most people were forecasting this to be a CRIPPLING storm 2-3 days before this hit. WxRisk.com (https://www.facebook.com/WxRisk) did it better than all of them and were WAY more accurate, but even I could see New Orleans and Atlanta were going to be hit with ICE before it happened (and why I'm sure the NFL is very happy to have the Super Bowl in the New York metro area this year). Point being, THEY SCREWED UP and want to defer the blame off themselves.

This type of poor planning torpedoed the political career of then-NYC Mayor John Lindsay in 1969 when a storm caught NYC off guard.

CindyHenderson
CindyHenderson

My retired teacher thoughts.......when you get busted you blame someone else and that is exactly what I see here. Good Lord people, this is NOT political.....must you make everything political?????

Bernie31
Bernie31

This is the Leadership the People of Atlanta Bought for the next (4) four years in Kasim Reed. Kasim says the City of Atlanta has (30) Trucks with Ice spreaders on (12) Twelve hour shifts spreading salt on icy streets in Atlanta. To ME that says a MAX of (8) Eight Trucks are on the road any given (12) Twelve hour period with (4) Four Trucks in reserve. (8) Trucks in the City the Size Of Atlanta. 

I think someone has been SOLD a PIG in a POKE!

Kasim it seems STILL not has learned his lesson from the previous STORM.

uh...huh


LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

LOL.  You know you have screwed the pooch when Al Roker can get on TV and b(i)tch-slap you around and actually have a valid point.

Bernie31
Bernie31

The Two Top Leaders responsible for this MESS. Want to remain in Office the next (8) Eight years and Beyond. The People of Georgia have a very important decision to make this year. Do we want MORE of the SAME or do we want more than what we currently have. Real Leadership is shown during Emergencies...We have not seen or experienced The Leadership We Need or Deserve. 

No to Kasim in 2018! No to Gov Deal in 2014!

Send them a message...Never Again!


This Failure was Preventable.....No if's Ands and buts about it.

CitizenBrownBag
CitizenBrownBag

Deal pulls a Condi "Nobody could have imagined this happening" 


This is better than anything I have ever seen at the Comedy Club.

td1234
td1234

Now the news media is getting ridiculous with suggesting that the Governor and Mayor should shut down everything anytime there is a chance of snow.  

Bernie31
Bernie31

Republican Government Leadership in Action...we have seen this Movie before. ALL know how it will end...Not good for the People.

Bernie31
Bernie31

Quite interesting the Governor is showing so much concern about the Children. Yet when it comes to their Healthcare...."Be Careful" No Medicaid Expansion for you.  Also had Deal's appointee as APS super Errol Davis had kept to his decision of No school Buses for children less than a mile from school. 

We would have had Thousands of Children "WALKING HOME" in the SNOW all over Atlanta had it not been for the Poorest Parents of Atlanta's APS students protesting this decision.

uh...huh

CitizenBrownBag
CitizenBrownBag

Press asking Deal actual questions. He is standing there catching flies. Doesn't even know the facts. Complete Moron

td1234
td1234

Deal has the nerve to come on the air in a news conference and thank the teachers for staying with the stranded children while at the same time attempts to take their ability to take care of themselves and families by gutting their insurance. 

YvonneRing
YvonneRing

I was in a conference in Macon Sunday and Monday, and throughout that conference time Al Rocker was advising of 3-5 inches of snow for Macon and the likelihood that NOTHING would be as far north as Atlanta. Welcome to the world of God. It's called forecasting, not fact. As for blame, if you want to blame politicians, school systems, and government agencies, let's suck it up and take your part of the blame also weather forecasters- sometimes... we just get it wrong. NOW, let's talk about the blessings within all of this: those who opened their homes; those who had loved ones leave their homes to go out and help others; those who have been patient and NOT giving in to the "blame game" the media loves so well. Face it... we are all human. And by the way, thank you for the poor forecast for us up here in Rabun County because my 2.5 inches of snow is awesome! 

Bernie31
Bernie31

Governor " Cannot get a Break Ethically" Deal is about to step into the Buzzsaw! 

Most likely will say Do not throw me under the Bus...Not yet!

Gen.Honore said Atlanta and Georgia had a Failure of Leadership.

Kasim the sock puppet is even standing behind his DADDY!

uh..huh

Dogvan
Dogvan

The head weather guy is using a sophistic argument.  According to the NWS there was an advisory issued at 3:38 AM 1/28/2014 for "* LOCATIONS...MOST OF NORTH GEORGIA FROM ROME TO DAWSONVILLE AND BLAIRSVILLE. * HAZARD TYPES...LIGHT SNOW ACCUMULATIONS. * ACCUMULATIONS...UP TO 1 INCH OF SNOW. * TIMING...LIGHT SNOW IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN THIS MORNING AND LAST THROUGH THE LATE THIS EVENING. * IMPACTS...SNOW AND ICE COVERED ROADS WILL MAKE TRAVEL DIFFICULT BEGINNING LATER THIS MORNING AND LASTING THROUGH WEDNESDAY MORNING. * VISIBILITIES...REDUCED VISIBILITIES IN AREAS OF SNOW WILL ALSO MAKE TRAVEL DIFFICULT IN ADDITION TO SLICK ROADWAYS. 

The NWS covers their butts by adding the hazardous road boilerplate, etc.  Had they omitted the "light snow" and "up to one inch" their warning might have been heeded.  In addition, an advisory:" Advisories are for "less serious" conditions than warnings that may cause significant inconvenience, and if caution is not exercised could lead to situations that may threaten life or property. I call it CYA for poor forecasting.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Remember this when predictions of this in the future fizzle, and people complain that they had to find something to do with their kids staying home when they had to go to work.  The paths of such snow and ice are often narrow and impossible to accurately predict.  School administrators and company managements were slow to react this time when it came early and harder, and Democrats are unsuccessfully trying to blame the Governor as if he should have done something.

Also note how almost every front that approaches Atlanta between March and October gets us "potential severe weather" warnings including tornado threats - "stay tuned and check back often" as our advertisers demand the ratings.  They are right about 5% of the time, so we get used to the hype.

Sumer54
Sumer54

@rnp123 So, the mayor should take the blame just because the headlines said 'Atlanta', while new 'incorporations' are springing up like rabbits around the city, for the very purpose of extracting back their tax dollars FROM Atlanta and exerting their independence from same?  NOT.  With with new authority comes new responsibility. Let the ones in charge of these offspring make their own decisions and recommendations to their citizens, who have voted in agreement to make Atlanta the place where they tell people that they're 'from', as they keep their resources closer to their back yards and clicky enclaves.

Sumer54
Sumer54

@bsuboy They're too busy using their smartphones for Pandora and Angry Birds than to pay attention to a color-coded, moving image of doppler radar, with hour-by-hour temperature projections, right in the palm of their hand.  I watched the reports as you did, filled my cars with gas Monday afternoon, hosed down my driveway from effects of neighborhood construction and noticed the change in temperature from the time I started the hose down to the time I finished.  Tuesday morning, clouds rolled in and temps dropped, right according to plan.  Squeeze in a half a day and wait until the snowflakes are falling?  Bad plan. Result? Epic gridlock followed immediately by icing and national shame.  

CindyHenderson
CindyHenderson

I am referring to the school system got busted and blamed meteorologists....

Charles50
Charles50

@Bernie31 What I find interesting is Reed said they started salting the streets at 9:00 yesterday.  Really, If they felt it was necessary to do it that early, then 1.  Why didn't the State do the same for the interstates and 2.  Why didn't they warn the school system and recommend a much earlier release time?

Charles50
Charles50

@td1234 That's not what they were suggesting.  But there was definitely more than a CHANCE.  There wasn't any question about that since late Monday or early Tues. morning.  The only question was when and even then there was some predictability.  They just screwed up.

td1234
td1234

@Bernie31 BS. Bernie. There is no way a Democratic Administration in Georgia would have done any better. 

td1234
td1234

@CitizenBrownBag Would it not be great if the national press would actually do the same to Obama at a press conference.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@td1234- Your blind allegiance to Barge is ruining your credibility.  Why didn't barge tell his underlings to cancel school or send them home earlier?  Not the Governor's job.

CitizenBrownBag
CitizenBrownBag

@td1234Dimwit Deal also seems to be unfamiliar with the concept of Ice. Blame that damn Mother Nature. Helpless He is!!!

triciasmillion
triciasmillion

@YvonneRing But by 3:39 AM Tuesday, there was a winter storm warning for Atlanta - meaning it's coming. Deal could have issued a state of emergency and kept people off the roads before dawn. He chose not too; however, as his press conference just proved, he does not understand what a winter storm warning means - or does not trust it from the "National" Weather Service (based in PeachTree City BTW).

WaltGekko
WaltGekko

@CindyHenderson They did get busted.

NYC schools on the other hand were OPEN last Tuesday with 11" of snow hitting and THAT USED TO BE THE NORM in NYC (the traffic problems that caused some kids to get stuck on buses in that storm had more to do with NYC unable to salt and plow some parts of Manhattan due to heavy traffic that is routinely non-stop, though some blamed that on new Mayor Bill DeBlasio "getting revenge" on "the 1%" that live in much of Manhattan, especially remembering some parts of Brooklyn did not see a plow for days following the post-Christmas 2010 blizzard).  I know, because I grew up in NYC in the 1970's and '80s when the only times schools were closed were during the two blizzards of 1978 (one of which was still going the morning that hit when not forecast and the other dumped a then-record 18" of snow on NYC, prompting a rare three-day shutdown) and following a FREAK April 1982 blizzard on what was supposed to be opening day for the Yankees (who were supposed to open against the Texas Rangers but instead opened five days later against the Chicago White Sox in the only known case of an opening day doubleheader in MLB history) when a foot of snow dropped unexpectedly, but that likely had more to do with schools scheduled to start spring recess the next day anyway.  Even a 21" snowfall in January 1983 (then a record) on a Friday-into-Saturday didn't prevent schools from opening the following Monday.

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

@td1234@Bernie31 

Perhaps, perhaps not.  But not really the issue now is it?

Every leader, county, city, state and school district dropped the ball here.

Bernie31
Bernie31

@td1234@Bernie31- We are 13 years from 911..When do you think OUR Political Leaders will get their ACT together?

Do you think we are just as prepared for a Major Terrorist event without a Warning? 

I do NOT think SO!

td1234
td1234

@The_Centrist, And who is showing "blind allegiance" to Deal with that question? Your boy Deal just said it is totally in the hands of LOCAL superintendents to determine when to and when not too send children home. John Barge has ZERO influence in that decision. 


"Not the Governor's job.". It is Deals job to make sure the citizens of the state are safe. He does have the ability to declare a state of emergency and under those powers order the school systems to send the children home. 


I know you understand this stuff and by your comments are showing you blind allegiance to Deal. 

Artelidah
Artelidah

@triciasmillion@YvonneRingDeal can't make anyone stay off the road. We all made the choice to go out. We are accountable for our actions, just as he is for his. I went to get my children from school once I saw the flurries at 10am.  By 11 it accumulating on my car.  We have to use common sense. Winter Storm  means just that. 

riverrat2
riverrat2

@CitizenBrownBag @The_Centrist Sorry when the decision makers (regardless of party affiliation) ignores the latest weather information they should be blamed for it.  The National Weather Service (NWS)  issued a Winter Storm Watch a 2 days ahead of time.  They then issued the Winter Weather Advisory on Monday afternoon.  In that statement, they said that there may need to be an upgrade to a Winter Storm Warning.  They then upgraded this to a Winter Storm Warning at 338 AM Tuesday (about 6 to 8 hours ahead of the snow).  All of this should have been ample time for decision makers to make plans.  There is absolutely no reason at all the school superintendents should go ahead and have school.

OldEngineer
OldEngineer

@WaltGekko@CindyHenderson Ummmm - I'll see your NYC and raise you the snowbelt in Rochester NY. Big huge difference between here (with a snow/ice storm every half decade or so) and way up yonder, which is equipped and ready to go six months of the year. Absolutely no relevance to that comparison.

riverrat2
riverrat2

@LookbeforeIleap @td1234 It is different when the National Weather Service has upgraded a Winter weather Advisory to a Winter Storm Warning at 338 Am Tuesday.  The warning did not even start until 9 AM...so there was plenty of notice for school officials to call off school.


td1234
td1234

@LookbeforeIleap @td1234 I do not like Deal and want to see Dr. Barge defeat him in the primary but the misinformation of some of the far left on this blog is outright stupid and needs to be debunked. There is plenty to be pissed at Deal for and I will call him out on those mistakes but I will not lie about him.

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

@td1234@LookbeforeIleap 

How many times has a winter storm warning been issued for metro Atlanta and we did NOT get precipitation?

And what exactly was the point in declaring a state of emergency 5 hours AFTER a million people were grid-locked on the roads and thousands of students stranded at school?


For someone who professes to dislike Deal, you sure seem to have your lips planted firmly on his backside.

JAWJA
JAWJA

@LookbeforeIleap @td1234 @Bernie31 Not every school district; little old Pike Co. announced school closings Tues. and Wed.  early Monday. Guess they care more for children's safety than Kasim and Deal.

td1234
td1234

@LookbeforeIleap @td1234 And as the Governor said in his press conference if we sent everyone home from work and school every time a watch and warning was issued then the press would be all over them for the millions in business loses. 

LookbeforeIleap
LookbeforeIleap

@td1234@LookbeforeIleap 

Yours is an inane statement and I think you know that.

The issue is:

Let's not send our kids to school when it is likely that the ability to transport them safely and timely to and from the school is in question.

td1234
td1234

@LookbeforeIleap, Yes let us not send our children to school every time it might snow or when it is a little to cold.