It is probably tempting for Atlantans to breathe a collective sigh of relief. With tens of thousands of visitors streaming into the city for this weekend’s Super Bowl, there has been no repeat of “Snowpocalypse,” the storm that brought ice and ridicule to the region in 2014.
But the metro area is not out of the woods yet. Channel 2 Action News warned temperatures will plunge — to the 20s — Wednesday. And that could turn wet streets into ice rinks.
Tuesday morning, the National Weather Service canceled an ominous winter weather advisory for the region. Temperatures are expected to rise throughout the week, reaching into the 60s for Super Bowl Sunday. That’s downright balmy.
Yet, Atlantans have a long memory, especially when it comes to the city being mocked on the The Daily Show for the haphazard response to a few inches of snow five years ago. Many weren’t taking any chances. They stayed indoors as cold rain fell Tuesday, as the weathermen trumpeted fat snowflake sightings in North Georgia, and as determined road crews spread more than 140,000 gallons of brine across the region’s highways.
“Sun and wind are playing in our favor,” Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale said. “Any remaining moisture may lead to patchy black ice, so we encourage safe and slow travel in the morning.”
More: Snow forecast, but Atlanta says it’s ready for Super Bowl visitors
Not everyone has been spared. Delta Air Lines canceled 170 flights scheduled for Tuesday. Downtown Atlanta — where Super Bowl festivities are taking place — also took a hit. Gray skies and drizzling rain kept some sightseers away early Tuesday.
Still, Peter Mackin, his 12-year-old daughter, Ada, and 11-year-old son, Sean, decided to check out the vibe there Tuesday. It seemed like a good idea since schools were closed, but they discovered a sleepy scene. They hoped to go to the Super Bowl Experience at the Georgia World Congress Center but learned it wouldn’t open until later in the day. Instead, they headed to the NFL Store. But the prices were too high for them. Leaving empty handed, they took a stroll outside before heading back on MARTA to their home in Buckhead.
Mackin said he enjoyed taking in the sights nevertheless, especially the Super Bowl graphics wrapping downtown buildings. His children, though, seemed underwhelmed and ready to leave.
“Ada wants to go home and hang out with her cats, where it’s warm,” Mackin said.
People started crowding into the Super Bowl Experience as the weather improved in the afternoon. Lauren Skor of Sandy Springs was among them.
“It’s actually sunny and beautiful right now,” she said.
New England Patriots fans, meanwhile, were getting a good-natured chuckle out of Atlanta’s response to the weather.
“I had to laugh when you called off school. A dusting is nothing for us. We’ll drive through it, no problem,” said Arthur Karageorges of New Hampshire. “As a matter of fact, last week, we had 14 inches of snow on Sunday. But all of our friends made it to the house to watch the Pats beat the Chiefs. It is hilarious. It’s not even a dusting — it’s rain.”
His wife, Linda, stressed what a wonderful time they’ve been having in the host city. She had never been to Atlanta before and was charmed by everyone’s hospitality.
“The people of Atlanta are totally amazing,” she said. “Everyone has just been so nice.”
That didn’t keep her from cracking up at Atlanta’s out-sized reaction to the weather.
“School’s canceled? Seriously?” she said, looking out the window at the lack of snow on Peachtree Street. “Everyone’s walking around in parkas. We’re going, ‘Are you kidding me?’”
Tempting as it was to giggle at Atlanta’s no-snow day, New England transplant Loann Lien wasn’t amused. She’s been here long enough to recall how, in 2014, two inches of wintry precipitation ended up paralyzing the region. Lien was smart enough during that to stay overnight in her office when Interstate 285 became a parking lot.
And before that, as many recall, Atlanta was the butt of jokes in 2000, the last time it hosted a Super Bowl. Back then, a winter storm disrupted MARTA rail services.
Bret Almassy, also a northern transplant, took advantage of the school closings and headed downtown with his sons Owen, 13, Mason, 10 and Gavin, 8. He and “OMG,” as he calls his trio, enjoyed the Super Bowl Experience. Like many other fans, they aren’t going to the game but are happy to have the opportunity to take in the week’s festivities.
“We’re looking to experience everything but the $4,000 seat,” he said.
Almassy also applauded city and state authorities for taking a cautious, proactive approach to the threat of tricky weather.
“It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
The public school systems in Atlanta and Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties are reopening Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Cherokee County school system, which closed Tuesday and is reopening Wednesday, had a little fun with students who were upset about the lack of snow. School officials posted on Twitter a photo of a snowman made of mud, adding a reference to “Doc Brown,” the time machine inventor played by Christopher Lloyd on “Back to the Future.”
“If you’re mad there’s no snow, please hang up & call Mother Nature,” the school system tweeted. “If you’re wondering ‘school tmrw?’ please hang up & call Doc Brown. If you’re bored, do homework, eat some milk & bread & make the best of today.”
Staff writers Vanessa McCray, Helena Oliviero, Marlon A. Walker and Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this report.
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