ATLANTA - Atlanta’s Snowmageddon, or Snowpocalypse, was 10 years ago this weekend. The winter storm brought the metro area to a complete halt. It also changed the way many in Georgia looked at winter weather.
About two-and-a-half inches of snow fell on January 28, 2014, but it was enough to turn interstates across the metro into parking lots.
Everyone tried to get home all at once as the snow fell. Slush froze on the roadways, trapping drivers. Children were forced to sleep at schools and some drivers chose to abandon their cars and walk instead.
"The air was so cold. I think forecast models struggled to completely estimate correctly the type of wintery precipitation that was about to happen," Zachary Handlos, senior academic professional at Georgia Tech, explained.
Immediately following the storm, then-Gov. Nathan Deal started the Winter Weather Task Force to better prepare the state for future systems.
What has changed since Snowmageddon 2014?
At that time, Georgia Department of Transportation officials say they only made around 5,000 gallons of brine.
"What we do now is we have 1.8-million gallons of brine that we can make statewide and store statewide at any time. We can make 50,000 gallons an hour of brine, and so that's the one material I think that has really made a difference," Natalie Dale, a GDOT spokesperson explained.
The salty mixture prevents ice from forming on the roads. They also use technology to determine what roads need to be treated.
"These roadway weather information sensors have really become a game changer," Dale said.
"We can look, and it will say, ‘You don't need anything here even though you've got some snowflakes falling, the roads are still 50 degrees.’ So, we know based on our conversations with meteorologists will those roads get below freezing," she added.
Now GDOT also has 393 snow removal dump trucks and 61 Ford F-150 pickups with plows and spreaders on-the-ready.
"When we ask people to get off the road and stay off the road, that's just as important of a part of the scenario to make sure our crews can treat the roads with what we have," Dale said.
"I think the city has gotten a lot better. A really great example is actually last Tuesday. Schools were canceled because there was a chance of snow and ice. People were prepared and it's better to be safe than sorry in that situation," Handlos added.