Snow in Atlanta, panic on TV

Photo by Moni Basu.

I just flew in from Philadelphia, and boy, are my eyes tired.

They’re tired because I should gotten back last night and spent the night in my own bed, getting a good night’s sleep. Instead I spent the night in Philadelphia and had to get up early this morning to catch a flight to Chicago and then another flight to Atlanta.

The reason? Fear of snow.

American Airlines canceled my 6:30 p.m. flight Friday because Atlanta was supposed to get socked with about four inches of the white stuff. (American must have had problems with crews; Atlanta-based Delta’s Friday night flights went through as usual.) Meanwhile, though Philly already had a couple inches on the ground, everything was hunky-dory.

In one respect, I can’t blame American. If they were watching TV news, they would have thought Armageddon was coming.

Atlanta does not handle snow well. This makes some sense; the city sees maybe one snowfall a year, and between unfamiliarity with frozen precipitation, a plethora of hilly, two-lane roads and the risk of fallen trees, the city can be easily brought to a standstill.

But the news doesn’t help.

Yesterday, a friend pointed me to a tweet that captured local station WSB’s 14-box live screen, each box a reporter hyping the storm.

That was later followed by a 22-box screen.

You would think the Bank of America building had collapsed on Spaghetti Junction and destroyed a packed Lenox Square as a sinkhole ate the airport.

(Incidentally, The Weather Channel — though it provided good information — wasn’t much better. There’s something about the constant switch from studio to “Jill Jones, LIVE in Charlotte” to breathless discussions of Winter Storm Hrothgar that breeds anxiety.)

No wonder frightened Atlantans drained the shelves at their local supermarkets. The city was going to be cut off forever! Even after temperatures are forecast to hit the 60s on Tuesday.

I don’t get it. It happens every time there’s the barest hint of snowflakes in the air. I wish TV news would simply say, “Drive slowly. Leave plenty of time to brake. Turn into skids. Stay home until the ice evaporates. This will pass in a couple days.”

But that’s not the way to ratings, is it?

Good thing global climate change will soon make all this a thing of the past.

Update, 8:13 p.m.: Over dinner, I pulled out the newspapers I hadn’t read while I was away. This was the headline on Friday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution:


Jeez. What type size are they going to use when war is declared?


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