Rare Winter Storm Snarls South, Leaves Thousands of Students Stranded at School
Two inches of snow left the South frozen last night — in more ways than one. Motorists in Georgia and Alabama were stranded on icy gridlocked highways, for more than 12 hours in some cases. More than 9,000 students camped out overnight in their schools because of the rare storm, dubbed "Leon" by meteorologists. Below-freezing temperatures left major roadways looking like sheets of ice, and Southerners unaccustomed to wintry conditions left work at the first sign of trouble, clogging up the roads even further.
One woman was forced to give birth in a car on Atlanta's Interstate 285. Another driver reported that it took him eight hours to drive one mile. Some people decided to abandon their cars and start walking home, and others curled up on the side of the road for the night — which could be even more dangerous in freezing weather.
In many cases, when emergency service personnel rescued school buses packed with students, they were driven back to school instead of their homes. School officials camped out with the kids overnight, cooking for them and watching movies. (Sleepover!) But not everyone was so lucky. As CNN reports:
The superintendent for Fulton County Schools in suburban Atlanta says his district had 90 buses stuck at midnight and a handful still stuck at 7:30 this morning.
"We have had students, unfortunately, stuck on buses all night," said the superintendent, Dr. Robert Avossa. "The National Guard and other state and local officials have been helping us escort buses out of those situations."
Officials say there have been about 940 accidents in Atlanta alone, and 100 of them involved injuries. At least five people were killed in accidents because of the freezing rain in Alabama.
Central Georgia saw about 3 inches of snow, which is about how much falls in the state for the entire year. Cities were at a loss with what to do with the white stuff, since places like Asheville, N.C., has only three snow plows and New Orleans has none.
What a nightmare. But Southerners had been warned to expect 1-2 inches of snow.
So the only person that should have been truly surprised about this whole fiasco was the college student who was kicked in the groin as he ran head-first toward The Weather Channel's unflappable Jim Cantore: