Deal says forecast slowed snow response

11:10 PM, Jan 29, 2014   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- "Mother Nature has a mind of its own," said Gov. Nathan Deal as he assessed the state's response to Tuesday's snowfall that gridlocked traffic.

Deal said the state had to be cautious because, he says, the Tuesday forecast wasn't entirely clear.

"If we closed the city of Atlanta and the interstate system based on maybes we would not be a very productive government or city," Deal said.  "We can't do it based on the maybes"

Deal said Atlanta weather forecasts "started out saying the magnitude of it was going to be a dusting. Y'all were saying that," he said, looking at TV reporters at his press conference.  "It was gonna be a dusting."

During a weather forecast on 11Alive, meteorologist Chesley McNeil delivered the winter storm warning at 4am Tuesday, and predicted one to two inches of snow, and ice after nightfall.

Here's what the National Weather Service said. Monday at 4:53am, it issued a winter storm watch for metro Atlanta. Tuesday at 339am, it issued a winter storm warning. The warning means "hazardous winter weather is occurring, imminent or highly likely."

At 9am -- more than five hours afterward -- the DOT started treating metro Atlanta roads.

Deal was asked about the winter storm warning, and whether the state should have begun treating roads more quickly.

"Well they did it as quickly as they could," He said.  "You can't just move these big trucks loaded down with sand and salt quickly."

Mayor Kasim Reed said the city's response to Tuesday's snow was an improvement on its response to an icy storm that hit in January 2011.  It too gridlocked traffic.

"I always want to be better. And when we get through this we're going to focus on how to be better," Reed said.

Reed said the city started treating streets at 9am Tuesday.  He was asked if it responded too slowly to the winter storm warning.

"If you're saying should we respond even faster, that's something that I'm definitely going to do in the future," Reed said.

He was asked about the gridlock that remained on some of Atlanta's interstate highways Wednesday morning.   I-20 was displayed behind Reed during his press conference Wednesday, where trucks and cars were at a standstill.

"You know looking at that interstate that it's not the responsibility of the city," he said to a reporter.  The state is responsible for the maintenance of interstate highways.

"We're doing every single thing we can and we're gonna get folks out of their cars," Reed said.

More Winter Storm Coverage:
Thousands still stranded on roads 24 hours after storm began
Hundreds of kids stuck in schools overnight because they couldn't get home
Fire stations, stores and schools take in stranded storm drivers
PHOTOS: Atlanta's winter traffic nightmare
SLIDESHOW: Your January 2014 snow pictures

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