"Historic", "Catastrophic" Winter Storm Paralyzes Atlanta As Pax Creeps Up East Coast

Tyler Durden's picture

Not a week seems to pass without yet another "historic" winter storm assuring that virtually all winter economic data so far in 2014 can be ignored... if it is bad that is - if the data is good, it's thanks to the "recovery" which however is not strong enough for the Fed to end its "unconventional" policy. The latest one - Pax. Weather.com's description of what is about to be unleashed on Atlanta and the entire Eastern Seaboard is nothing short of a review of the movie The Day After Tomorrow: "Potentially "catastrophic" Winter Storm Pax began unfolding before dawn Wednesday in the Atlanta area as temperatures dropped below freezing and sleet and freezing rain began to fall."

The National Weather Service's warning was not exactly cheery: "Let’s just start by saying this winter storm may be of historic proportions for the area,” the agency said in a forecast analysis. “We’re looking at significant snowfall totals north and significant, crippling ice totals, especially along the Interstate 20 corridor.” Eli Jacks, a meteorologist with National Weather Service, said forecasters use words such as "catastrophic" sparingly. Not in this case.

"Sometimes we want to tell them, 'Hey, listen, this warning is different. This is really extremely dangerous, and it doesn't happen very often,'" Jacks said.

 

The service's memo early Wednesday called the storm "an event of historical proportions."

 

It continues: "Catastrophic ... crippling ... paralyzing ... choose your adjective."

So... not good?

The forecast drew comparisons to an ice storm in the Atlanta area in 2000 that left more than 500,000 homes and businesses without power and an epic storm in 1973 that caused an estimated 200,000 outages for several days. In 2000, damage estimates topped $35 million.

Ice will make travel in central Georgia impossible, and downed tree limbs might cut power for days, the agency said. As many as 300,000 homes and businesses in the state will probably lose power, according to Tim Oram, the Meteorological Services Branch chief for the weather service’s southern region in Fort Worth, Texas.

 

“At this point, everything is lining up,” Oram said. “It’s from a once-in-every-10- to a once-in-every-20-years type of event. There’s pretty high confidence we’re going to see some pretty high accumulations of ice in the Georgia area.”

 

The worst of the ice will probably stretch from Atlanta to Columbia, South Carolina, and Fayetteville to Raleigh in North Carolina, according to Anderson. “It is going to be a bad situation down there,” he said.

Ok, maybe they are not exaggerating. Already, Georgia Power was reporting thousands of power outages around the state. And forecasters and officials said the number of outages would probably grow throughout the day.  Just before 5 a.m., the number of customers in the dark was 2,000. That number climbed to more than 10,000 by 7 a.m. Ice was already accumulating on roads and bridges. National Weather Service forecasters used unusual dire language in warnings and memos early Wednesday, and they said that while a foot of snow could fall in some parts of Georgia, "it is the ice that will have the catastrophic impacts."

As a reminder, ice on the road in the South means instant paralysis:

Elected leaders and emergency management officials began warning people to stay off the roads, especially after 2 inches of snowfall caused an icy gridlock two weeks ago and left thousands stranded in vehicles overnight. It seemed many in the region around the state's capital obliged as streets and highways were uncharacteristically unclogged Tuesday.

 

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in a news conference at the Georgia Emergency Management Agency's special operations center Tuesday evening implored people to get somewhere safe and stay there.

 

"The message I really want to share is, as of midnight tonight, wherever you are, you need to plan on staying there for a while," Reed said. "The bottom line is that all of the information that we have right now suggests that we are facing an icing event that is very unusual for the metropolitan region and the state of Georgia."

This also means the local aren't taking any chances, and have already raided the local grocery stores. From (the ironically named) KPAX:

If you're an Atlantan making a last-minute grocery run, here's hoping you love corn and asparagus. Because that's all that may be left on most shelves as residents stock up and hunker down for the ice storm.

 

Gone are the loaves of bread. The gallons of milk. The cans of beans and beer.

It won't be just Atlanta though:

A potentially historic winter storm threatens to coat Georgia with ice, knocking out power and grounding thousands of planes, before bringing snow to Northeastern cities including Washington and New York.

 

New York may get 2-4 inches (5-10 centimeters) of snow tonight, and Washington as much as 4 inches, according to the National Weather Service at 3:51 a.m. New York time. Atlanta is forecast to receive half an inch of ice today.

 

“When the snow comes, it is going to come in fast and furious,” said Brett Anderson, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “The initial batch of snow that comes in before any changeover is going to be quite heavy.”

 

Closer to the coast, the storm will start as snow before changing to rain, Anderson said. While the rain may hold down snow accumulation, the rapid onset will still mean heavy snowfall for the cities along the Interstate 95 corridor from Washington to Boston.

 

The snow moving to the Northeast is expected to leave a “catastrophic” blanket of ice across the South, especially Georgia, the weather service said.

If readers are traveling by plane over the next 24 hours, our advice is: don't.

Across the U.S., 1,576 flights were canceled yesterday, and 2,697 were scrubbed for today, said FlightAware, a Houston-based tracking service. About 5,500 homes and businesses from Arkansas to North Carolina were without power, utility websites show.

 

Governors in seven Southern states declared emergencies as the ice and snow moved eastward from Texas. The storm is expected to strengthen off the coast of North Carolina and drop heavy snow from Virginia to Maine.

 

The worst-hit areas may be the Interstate 81 corridor from western Virginia into central New York, as well as northern and western New England. Anderson said those areas may receive as much as 12 inches of snow, with some places getting 18 inches.

As a reminder, Atlanta was already hit late last month, when 2.5 inches of snow in Atlanta stranded almost 25,000 students at their schools or in buses and shut down the region’s highways, trapping thousands of motorists. "There were 1,254 accidents, 134 people injured and at least one death caused by the storm. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal issued a state of emergency for 45 counties on Feb. 10 and 43 more yesterday, urging residents to stay off the roads. Schools in the Atlanta area have been closed through today. President Barack Obama declared an emergency in northern Georgia, freeing up federal funds to deal with the aftermath of the storm. Governors in Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia also issued emergency declarations."

Finally, we have all seen traders with hands on their faces. Here are...  weathermen with hands on their faces.