“All right guys, this is it,” Charlie Dawson, the special operations center manager at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, told emergency responders. “It’s happening. What’s been predicted for several days, what we’ve been planning for, for several days is happening now." The city, which two weeks ago was brought down by a mere 2 inches of snow, is now at the epicenter of what's being called a "historic" ice storm that's threatening the Southern U.S. with snow, sleet and freezing rain.
As of Wednesday morning, 2 inches of ice had covered the roads around Atlanta, and the National Weather Service is warning that it's going to get worse. The ice is expected to keep falling throughout the day, topped off with a layer of snow by Thursday morning.
"This is one of Mother Nature's worst kind of storms that can be inflicted on the South," Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday afternoon. "That is ice. It is our biggest enemy."
This time, however, Atlantans are prepared:
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who shouldered a lot of the blame for the city's disastrous gridlock last time around, told Time that this time it'll be different. “We’ve doubled our capabilities since the last storm,” he said. Atlanta-area schools have been closed since Wednesday, and a state of emergency has been declared for all of Georgia.
And most people, it seems, knew better than to leave home:
Those who stayed put might be stuck there for a while -- about 57,000 so far are without power, and thousands of flights have been canceled -- including nearly 70 percent from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International airport, the nation's busiest.