The wintry blast that led officials to shutter schools and close government offices wound up being little more than a blanket of rain across metro Atlanta. But Georgia’s top politicians have no regrets about escalating storm preparations.
At a Buckhead Coalition luncheon on Wednesday, both Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms used the same phrase to sum up the precautions they took as a frigid storm front took aim at the region: “Dress rehearsal.”
“It was an honor to go through the dress rehearsal for a real snow storm,” Bottoms said to laughs. “By the way,” she added, “we are prepared.”
Kemp echoed that mentality as he mentioned the news coverage of the wild winter weather.
“All I can say is was the morning shows were talking about Minnesota” – where subzero temperatures are forcing residents to stay indoors – “not Atlanta.”
The fast-moving storm front just days before Atlanta hosts the Super Bowl led both officials to take a better-safe-than-sorry approach. City and state offices were closed, classes were canceled and residents were warned to stay off the roads.
Both politicians said they didn’t want Atlanta to be caught off guard by icy conditions that plagued the city the last time it hosted the Super Bowl, when gridlock marred the 2000 event. And both said they didn’t want to relive the chaos of snowy weather five years ago that made Atlanta a laughingstock.
That’s why they ordered a full-scale government response to the storms, with heating stations sprouting across the city and road crews dumping more than 140,000 gallons of brine across the region’s highways.
The National Weather Service canceled its winter weather advisory by Tuesday morning, and temperatures crawled above freezing on Wednesday afternoon. The thermometer is expected to reach into the 60s for Super Bowl Sunday.
That’s a relief for officials, who are pining for chamber of commerce weather for the big game.
“I’m excited the Super Bowl is here,” Bottoms said. “I’m even more excited it’s over by Monday.”
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