Winter weather here can be hard to understand. But metro Atlanta has had its share of ice capades, some of them so harrowing they might have been written by Stephen King.
Some may remember 1982. Jan. 11 that year began cold and blustery. Snow was forecast, and temperatures had hovered around freezing and dipped into the teens at night. The flakes began falling in midafternoon, just as people started fleeing their offices to beat the storm home. But it was too late. Roads were at a standstill, prompting some to abandon their cars and set out on foot across a terrain that, by then, was so cold and forbidding it would have turned Admiral Peary back from his quest to find the North Pole.
Then there was the Blizzard of ’93. Forecasters had predicted snow -- but nothing like the foot that fell in metro Atlanta. Winds reached 50 mph, and temperatures dipped into the teens, transforming the city, for a few hours on a Saturday morning, into a postcard from Norway.
On Jan. 23, 2000, an ice storm left more than 300,000 homes and businesses without power for days.
In 1983, between Jan. 20 and 21, 1.9 inches of snow blanketed the metro area. Remembering what had happened a year earlier, panicked workers fled the city. Then, on March 24, 1983, nearly 8 inches of snow began falling one afternoon, causing gridlock on the highways.
But the worst storm of all, the one that permanently scarred the psyche of Atlanta, had to be the ice storm of 1973.
What began as a cold rain on Jan. 7 turned into an icy mess. That rain froze, draping power lines and pine trees in ice and causing one of the most spectacular light shows in the city's history: Power transformers blew all over town, illuminating the night sky.
For three days, more than 200,000 people were without power, and many were without heat, unable to travel because roads were glazed with black ice.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.