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Massive Storm Buries US East Coast In Snow and Ice 290

Posted by timothy
from the how-about-that-sports-weather dept.
First time accepted submitter anthonycarlson writes "The second wintry storm in two weeks to hit the normally balmy south U.S. has encrusted highways, trees and power lines in ice, knocking out electricity to nearly a half-million homes and businesses." Kids are out of school, and houses are out of power, in much of a region that normally gets much rarer and lighter snowfall. If you're socked in, or if you're in the East Coast storm zone but have to venture out anyhow, what's been your experience? Some of the pictures are pretty impressive. Update: 02/13 17:24 GMT by T : Google Maps has a handy guide to weather alerts, shelters, and traffic info for those affected by the storm. (Hat tip to Chris DiBona.)
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Massive Storm Buries US East Coast In Snow and Ice

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  • by clovis (4684) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @12:18PM (#46238627)

    No problems in this Wisconsin?
    Well, you're absolutely 100% right about f-wit drivers around Atlanta.

    But as for Wisconsin ...
    I look at the web cams at about 10:00AM (Wi time)
    Does no one live there, or is there some reason almost no one is on the roads? []

    70 car pile-up in the snow? []

    Wi drivers have no problems driving in the snow? []

  • Re:It's not the same (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @12:21PM (#46238669)

    I want to echo this sentiment - I'm transplanted from NY, eventually ended up in Atlanta, GA. I drove many winters in NY, and being the youngest of four I learned a lot from my parents and older siblings about driving in the snow. I can tell you that no matter where you grew up, how great a driver you think you are, or what vehicle you have, driving on solid ice is not just difficult, it's treacherous. Add in all the hills we have around here, and you're really screwed.

    Now; first "snowpocalypse" from two weeks ago: it started snowing mid-morning. Around noon, people realized they'd better start getting home. By 12:30, the roads were ICY (not snowy); it's very hilly around here and many vehicles couldn't make it up hills. This caused massive gridlock; even people with 4WD, AWD, and yes, FWD that could have made it were stuck in the gridlock anyway. This all happened before the local and state governments could react... there were vehicles out salting and sanding, but they didn't get a chance to hit even a fraction of the roads. The traffic map on the GA511 website went from green to black in a half hour. Yes, I largely blame ignorant drivers who don't know what to do... all those mid-level pickups and sports and luxury cars with rear wheel drive, just sitting there spinning their tires (they didn't realize after a few seconds it just wasn't working? Unbelievable). The number of idiots trying the same things over and over again, getting worse and worse results was baffling. Once I got past a few gridlocked areas I made it home just fine with my FWD car... but the way I get out of the city is largely level once I'm away from the mid town area. Other interstates aren't so "lucky," virtually everywhere there was a hill there was gridlock. And yes, while I blame the drivers, the "pros" were no better - the biggest problems I encountered were buses and trucks which, when they spun out, blocked the entire road.

    Fast forward to this time, and all the gun-shy drivers just stayed home. Up in North Carolina they experienced the same problem this time that GA felt last time, and I won't belittle them about it. In GA, with everyone warned to stay home, the service vehicles are able to salt and sand the major roads. I want to make this clear - people didn't know last time how bad it would be, the storm was supposed to pass to the south and it shifted north. Even when it started snowing it was not icy, it was just snow... it just didn't last long. Everyone from schools, to private and government employees all left at the same time, when they realized it wasn't going to let up. A lot of people blame the government... I don't. They had trucks ready, it was just a bad confluence of events and eventualities that led to a bad situation. There was really nothing they could do. Even the supposed idea of staggered release times (first schools, then private businesses, then government) is ridiculous - and it's the fault of the people, not the government, because as soon as schools get released, everyone tries to rush home to beat the traffic, it's just the way people are (not all of us, obviously, I waited until late evening to even try to leave).

    The other BIG difference between this and last time - and this is how it usually is - the problems didn't start until Tuesday NIGHT, which means most people were already home from work. When it hits mid-day, people are already at work and screwed. Usually these accumulations happen over night, we wake up, and say "snow day!"

    It's like any other weather event; they can be unpredictable and catch people off guard. It's just the way it is sometimes... sometimes the best laid plans work, sometimes they don't.

  • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @12:56PM (#46238981)

    The problem with burying power lines is you can't completely seal them up. You need to be able to get access to them for junction points to connect the feeders to service entries for homes and buildings. Water, dirt and salt are the main enemies of underground service. Then you have contractors digging up wires either via negligence or from reading improperly marked prints. Its a tradeoff between the two really. Overhead lines are easier and cheaper to string up but can be taken out by vehicle crashes, trees (the main enemy of overheads) and ice. Plus they don't look as nice.

    On christmas day a family friends block was torn up and full of construction equipment after the manholes went up in flames. His wife had a video of flames shooting up about 2 meters high from the manhole in front of their house. Turns out salt had corroded the splices to the point where there was enough resistance to heat up, arc and start a fire. Smoke also made its way through the conduits into the homes closest to the manholes and they had the be evacuated while the fire department inspected them. This happened at 4AM and they didn't have power until 3PM albeit via temporary service lines.

"Life is a garment we continuously alter, but which never seems to fit." -- David McCord