"What happened in Atlanta this week is not a matter of Southerners blindsided by unpredictable weather. More than any event I've witnessed in two decades of living in and writing about this city, this snowstorm underscores the horrible history of suburban sprawl in the United States and the bad political decisions that drive it."
On Tuesday, snowfall of just over 2 inches shut down metropolitan Atlanta's roads, schools, churches, government offices and businesses. Thousands of flights were cancelled at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. More than 2,000 school children were separated from their parents, and spent the night in buses, police stations, or classrooms. It seemed that the only places open were Waffle House and Home Depot, the former serving hash browns and coffee and the latter opening up its stores as makeshift shelters. People who didn't camp out in supermarket aisles and hotel lobbies were trapped in cars for 10, 16, 20 hours as they tried to make commutes that normally take just 30 minutes.
Surely to everyone else in the world, the staggering sight of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States brought to a standstill by a few flurries seemed comical at first. Oh, those Southerners, they don't know how to drive in the snow! Indeed, as I tried to get home from work Tuesday evening, my tires spinning uselessly in an icy patch just yards from Peachtree Street, a trio of tourists snapped camera-phone pictures and laughed. I'm sure my Honda's enshrined on someone's Facebook page with a witty caption. Inevitably, people began to compare the gridlocked cars heading out of downtown Atlanta to the Walking Dead poster, Southerners trapped by a "snowpocalypse" instead of the zombie variety.