Georgia braces for 2nd snowstorm in 2 weeks

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Georgia braces for 2nd snowstorm in 2 weeks
A pedestrian walks in the snow in the Center Square neighborhood on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Albany, N.Y. Hundreds of schools across upstate New York are closed and authorities are advising against any unnecessary travel as a snowstorm moves across the region. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
In this aerial photo taken with a fisheye lens looking south toward downtown Atlanta, the ice-covered interstate system shows the remnants of a winter snow storm Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in Atlanta. While such amounts of accumulation barely quality as a storm in the north, it was enough to paralyze the Deep South. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
In this aerial view looking at I-75 north at Mt. Paran Rd., abandoned cars are piled up on the median of the ice-covered interstate after a winter snow storm Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, in Atlanta. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said early Wednesday that the National Guard was sending military Humvees onto Atlanta's snarled freeway system in an attempt to move stranded school buses and get food and water to people. Georgia State Patrol troopers headed to schools where children were hunkered down early Wednesday after spending the night there, and transportation crews continued to treat roads and bring gas to motorists, Deal said. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
Downtown Atlanta stands covered in snow and ice Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. A winter storm left many parts of Georgia crippled for a second day Tuesday, stranding Greyhound bus passengers in Atlanta without food and closing down government offices and school districts as roads remained coated in snow and ice. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
City contractors including Antoine Calloway, left, spreads sand on roadways after an overnight winter storm that has deposited several inches of snow Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Johns Creek, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
A pedestrian stops to take a picture of the snow in the middle of Peachtree Street in the early hours of Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
James Daniel Barrentine plays in the snow in Montgomery, Ala. on Sunday, March 1, 2009. A powerful March snowstorm blanketed much of Alabama and then marched across Georgia on Sunday, forcing some flight cancellations in Atlanta as the East Coast braced for a potential pummeling amid winter storm warnings. (AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, Amanda Sowards)
CORRECTS DAY OF THE WEEK Janette Gilbert, of Atlanta, Ga., hangs on to a toboggan while sledding down a hill on Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010 in Boise, Idaho. A strong winter storm struck the Pacific Northwest and other western states at the start of the holiday travel season, dumping heavy snow on roads making travel conditions treacherous in some locations. (AP Photo/Charlie Litchfield)
Snow falls on a metal cutout silhouette of Martin Luther King, Jr., near the Presidential Parkway in Atlanta on Sunday March 1, 2009. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Joey Ivansco) ** GWINNETT DAILY POST OUT, MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL OUT **
Snow falls against the backdrop of the Georgia State Capitol the night before Gov.-elect Nathan Deal is to be sworn into office Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Charlie Morgan, 9, wipes out while sledding down a neighborhood street after an overnight winter storm that so far has deposited seven inches of snow Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Johns Creek, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
City contractors spread sand on roadways in the early morning hours after an overnight winter storm that has deposited several inches of snow Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Johns Creek, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Rena Rabad, a nurse at Emory Johns Creek hospital clears snow from her car after an overnight winter storm that has deposited several inches of snow and sleet Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Johns Creek, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Downtown Atlanta stands covered in snow and ice Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. A winter storm left many parts of Georgia crippled for a second day Tuesday, stranding Greyhound bus passengers in Atlanta without food and closing down government offices and school districts as roads remained coated in snow and ice. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
A scooter stands covered in ice in downtown Atlanta Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. A winter storm left many parts of Georgia crippled for a second day Tuesday, stranding Greyhound bus passengers in Atlanta without food and closing down government offices and school districts as roads remained coated in snow and ice. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Drivers move slowly up Floyd Road as heavy snow covers the road and the temperature drops to 32 degrees on Sunday, March 1, 2009 in Mableton, Ga. (AP Photo/The Atlanta Journal & Constitution, Johnny Crawford) ** GWINNETT DAILY POST OUT, MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL OUT **
Aaron Curtis, of Atlanta, throws a stick for his dogs, Boone, right, and Einstein, as they play in the snow in Atlanta's Piedmont Park Saturday, Dec. 25, 2010. Snow, sleet and icy rain began falling Saturday morning in some parts of north Georgia, and the wintry mix descended on metro Atlanta in the afternoon. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Snow falls against the backdrop of the Georgia State Capitol the night before Gov.-elect Nathan Deal is to be sworn into office Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Connor Quinn, 13, slides down one of his neighborhood streets after an overnight winter snow storm Monday, Jan. 10, 2011, in Johns Creek, Ga. (AP Photo/John Amis)
The sun sets over a snow and ice covered section of downtown Atlanta Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011. Georgia is shelling out up to $2 million a day cleaning up the winter storm that dumped ice and snow across the state, a state Department of Transportation spokesman said. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
National Guard member Alex Liriano checks messages on her tablet as she waits out flight delays at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport two days after a winter snow storm, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. More than 400 flights in and out were canceled by 6 a.m. Thursday, according to data from the flight tracking service FlightAware. Many of those flights were canceled before the day began. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
A woman sleeps at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, two days after a winter snow storm, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. More than 400 flights in and out were canceled by 6 a.m. Thursday, according to data from the flight tracking service FlightAware. Many of those flights were canceled before the day began. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
National Guard members wait out flight delays at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport two days after a winter snow storm, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Atlanta. More than 400 flights in and out were canceled by 6 a.m. Thursday, according to data from the flight tracking service FlightAware. Many of those flights were canceled before the day began. (AP Photo/David Tulis)
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ATLANTA (AP) - When snow fell on Atlanta two weeks ago, downtown streets of the South's business hub were jammed with unmoving cars, highway motorists slept overnight in vehicles or abandoned them where they sat, and students were forced to camp out in school gymnasiums when roads turned too treacherous for buses to navigate.

Things promised to be different Tuesday, when another round of rain, sleet and freezing rain was expected to begin walloping the area.

That's not necessarily because city and state officials are going to be better prepared - although they promised they would be - but because many people aren't going to take a chance that they will get trapped again.

"Basically, everyone from the office is going to be working from home" on Tuesday, said Dakota Herrera as he left a car park in downtown Atlanta to go to his office Monday.

Atlanta has a long and painful history of being ill-equipped to deal with snowy weather. Despite officials' promises following a crippling ice storm in 2011 that they would be better prepared next time, the storm that hit the area Jan. 28 proved they still had many kinks to work out.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal indicated on Monday that he and other state officials had learned their lesson. Before a single drop of freezing rain or snow fell, Deal declared a state of emergency for nearly a third of the state and state employees were told they could stay home if they felt conditions were too dangerous. Schools canceled classes, and Deal urged people who didn't need to be anywhere to stay off the roads. Tractor-trailer drivers were handed fliers about the weather and a law requiring chains on tires in certain conditions.

"We are certainly ahead of the game this time, and that's important," Deal said. "We are trying to be ready, prepared and react as quickly as possible."

That kind of reassurance was a hard sell with some.

"I'm not counting on it," said Terri Herod, who bought a large bag of sand and a shovel at local hardware store. "I've been in Georgia on and off for 20 years. It's usually the same scenario: not enough preparations and not enough equipment."

Memories of the last storm are still painfully fresh. Students were trapped on buses or at schools and thousands of cars were abandoned along highways as short commutes turned into odysseys. One woman gave birth on a jammed interstate. Officials reported one accident-related death.

This storm could be worse this time. A one-two punch of winter weather was expected for Atlanta and northern Georgia. Rain and snow were forecast Tuesday, followed by sleet and freezing rain Wednesday. Downed power lines and icy roads were a major worry.

Other parts of the South were expected to get hit as well. Alabama, which saw stranded vehicles and had 10,000 students spend the night in schools during the January storm, was likely to get a wintry mix of precipitation. Parts of Mississippi could see 3 inches of snow, and a blast of snow over a wide section of Kentucky slickened roads and closed several school districts. South Carolina, which hasn't seen a major ice storm in nearly a decade, could get a quarter to three-quarters of an inch of ice.

On Monday, Deal was doing many things differently than he had last month. He opened an emergency operations center and held two news conferences before the storm. In January, Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed did not hold their first news conference until hours after highways were jammed.

When the Jan. 28 storm hit, Deal was at an awards luncheon with Reed, who was named a magazine's 2014 "Georgian of the Year."

Reed had just tweeted: "Atlanta, we are ready for the snow."

This time, the mayor made no such predictions. Instead, he said he was in contact with school leaders and the city had 120 pieces of equipment to spread salt and sand and plow snow. The National Guard had 1,400 four-wheeled drive vehicles to help anyone stranded.

"We are just going to get out here and, flat out, let our work speak for itself," Reed said.

Much is at stake for the governor, a Republican who is up for re-election, and Reed, who is seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party and has aspirations for higher office. Both took heat from residents, forecasters and even comedians during the last storm.

Saturday Night Live spoofed a storm "survivor" with a thick Southern accent. "The sun will rise again," the character said at one point. Jon Stewart quipped: "The ice age zombie doomsday apocalypse has come to Atlanta."

The governor apologized and announced the formation of a task force to study the problems. This time, ice posed a major concern.

Aaron Strickland, emergency operations director for Georgia Power, said the utility was bringing in crews from Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and Michigan.

"Ice is probably one of the worst events we face," Strickland said. "When you look at the types of ice we are talking about, it's catastrophic."

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