Thursday, February 13, 2014

Icepocalypse 2014: The Refreezening

Again.  Really.

On the positive side, we handled it better this time.

Just two weeks after an admittedly small ice and snow storm stranded thousands of motorists and shut down the city for days, another bigger storm comes and shuts us down again.  A big difference between then and now?  Earlier warning and better preparation.

The weather forecasts several days ahead of the storm clearly pointed to some kind of storm coming this week.  Exactly how bad, or exactly when shifted a little, but it was clear that it was coming.  Because of this (and because of the disaster that happened last time) the schools and local governments reacted early and "pre-closed" the state.  Instead of the mass of parents rushing home to meet their kids busses at the same time as masses of busses hit the road, everywhere the roads were ghostly quiet, like a winter version of the Walking Dead.

The roads were still bad, worse than a couple of weeks ago.  And worse still, hundreds of Georgians lost power in the depths of the cold.  (It is worth noting that North Carolina and Virginia are dealing with this now, and the rest of the Atlantic coast tonight.  Stay warm folks.)  Some areas in east Georgia got a half inch or more of ice.  ICE.  I experienced ice that bad before.  It is surreal seeing pine needles coated with ice as thick as your fingers.

As Phil Plait (The Bad Astronomer) points out, this storm neither proves nor disproves climate change.  What I can say is this is the third winter event in Atlanta this season.  (See today's Bonus Track.)  Only a few years ago we had a drought that gave us the first real chance of actually running out of drinking water.  When I first moved to Georgia in 1987, this kind of weather was a once every few years event.  Weather in Atlanta now bears little resemblance to what it was back then.  Even still this is not enough to prove or disprove anything by itself.  I will gladly add it to the pile of evidence though.

Bonus Track:

Today's bonus track comes from Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer.  Among other things he blogs about Astronomy, Science and other things at Slate.  One of his recent posts was about this storm:

In case you are one of the very few people reading this who does not know who Phil Plait is, here are some reasons why you should read his work:
  • He is excited about all things science, and his passion shows in his work.
  • He finds the best space pictures.
  • He is one of the leading voices in the pro-vax community.  (Anti-anti-vax?)
  • He is a genuinely good person.

My family and I have had the pleasure of spending time with Phil and his family.  They attract other good people to them and I can say that they are the kind of people I want around me.

Stay warm.

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