By 9 a.m. Thursday, Georgia’s emergency planners had opened a command center to coordinate the state’s response to the forecasts. This after facing intense criticism last week for not opening such a center until hours after icy weather had brought Atlanta traffic to a standstill.
Georgia Emergency Management Agency director Charley English sent Deal’s staffers a flurry of dispatches about the mere possibility of snow flurries. English, who was blasted for his arms-length response to last week’s weather, was taking no chances this time. The command center remained open late Thursday afternoon.
State planners had two conference calls with local meteorologists who tried to calm their concerns. And stores of salt, sand and brine to treat icy roadways were restocked and at the ready just in case dropping temperatures wreaked havoc on roadways.
Across metro Atlanta, school superintendents were on edge. Cherokee County school officials went ahead and canceled a range of after-school activities Thursday evening “in an abundance of caution.”
But the most visible indications that the state was in high gear over the merest prospect of icy weather were Georgia Department of Transportation messages plastered across interstate highways warning that a winter storm watch was in effect with “black ice possible.”
The National Weather Service, however, had issued no such warning, the GDOT signs were quickly taken down, and the agency later said it simply “overreacted.”
As the governor predicted last week as criticism swirled over his handling of the icy gridlock, this type of all-out response could become the new norm.
“I can say this to you: We will be more aggressive, ” he said. “We will take those weather warnings more seriously.”