Eight plows?

To say this has been an interesting winter so far would be a healthy understatement. As I write this, the largest city in the South remains wrapped in a blanket of white and virtually shut down for the second day in a row. What little traffic there is creeps like a garden slug on a dewy morning. And the busiest airport in the world isn’t boasting any more action than the airstrip at Barrow, Alaska.

This is Atlanta’s third bout with winter weather this season–and by far the most crippling. The last time the metro area was blitzed by this much snow was in March 1993–the infamous Superstorm. That near-blizzard blew in on a weekend, however, and within a couple of days Mother Nature in all her spring finery had repatriated the city.

That won’t happen this time. Temperatures will struggle above freezing today, but then plop back down to polar levels for the remainder of the work week. So I trust Atlanta’s eight (that’s the number I’ve heard bandied about most often) snowplows can get ahead of the game today. Otherwise….

Eight plows? Well, I understand the economics. If they’re called to active duty only once or twice every few winters, it doesn’t make any sense to have a standing army of them. But it is kind of laughable when contrasted with New England (where I used to live).

I watched a live shot on The Weather Channel from Natick, Massachusetts during the post-Christmas snowstorm. While Mike Seidel was doing his shtick, NINE plows in a row streamed by on the road behind him. Nine plows in about two minutes! That’s the reason it’s always been my contention you could get by in New England without snow tires if you didn’t have to drive during or immediately after a storm.

That theory will be tested for the second time this winter as another major NYC/New England snowstorm brews and bubbles this morning. The remnants of our Southern nemesis are expected to join forces with a wintry system sweeping eastward out of the Midwest to produce another whopper of a bopper along the I-95 corridor in the Northeast.

More thoughts and observations, and an anecdote about forecasting, tomorrow.

Photo: North side of Atlanta
A half foot of snow and ice–the biggest winter storm in Atlanta since Superstorm in March 1993–brought the city to a slip-sliding halt Monday.  It may be the weekend before things are back to normal.

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