On Wednesday, just under three inches of snow fell on Atlanta, sparking huge traffic jams and paralyzing the city’s residents. Some 1,500 students across 26 schools spent the night sleeping in their classrooms, watched over by teachers, state patrol officers, and the National Guard.
School closings were announced late, giving parents little time to reach their children. Businesses closed early, sending a huge wave of traffic onto the highways in the early afternoon, about the time the roads began to freeze. Many got ensnared for six hours while taking journeys of as little as four miles. Still many are trapped on the road. Because of the crippling ice and sub-freezing temperatures, it is unclear when those students or the thousands of commuters still stuck on Interstates and side roads will make it home.
A Facebook page called Snowed Out Atlanta was created to assist people trying to help friends and family members stuck on the road. Even though there were weather reports that the storm was coming, few seemed prepared for the icing and the volume of traffic.
Other southern states were hit hard by the storm as well. Craig Witherspoon, superintendent of Birmingham city schools in Alabama, said that about 600 students in his district spent the night in schools, accompanied by about 100 staff members. “This came very suddenly,” Craig said. “All reports for the Birmingham area were that we’d get a light dusting to the south of where we were and the flakes started coming, and then it just poured out.”