The winter debacle in Georgia

Updates listed at bottom of main article:


Concerning the snow and ice disaster in Georgia, Governor Nathan Deal, and Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, you both should be ashamed of yourselves. On various news reports all I’ve heard is excuses and passing the buck from both of you. You are both the product of a political system that hires political allies and cronies into higher positions that during public emergencies do not have the wherewithal or knowledge to take action.
Your equipment, coordination efforts and techniques are outdated to protect the people of Georgia and the Atlanta metropolitan area from two inches of snow. In 1976, I was appointed as the snow removal coordinator for the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, in Lexington Kentucky. The cost to purchase new equipment was prohibitive so we had to develop various techniques that would be more cost effective in protecting the public from a heavy snowfall and significant icing of the roadways.
The most cost effective method and an enhanced ice melting and salt retention was pre wetting salt.  According to various studies, wetted salt is 30% more effective in melting as dry salt has a tendency to be blown off of the roadway and is not carried by the tires of various vehicles. Further, wetted salt has the following additional capabilities and advantages.
Pre-wetting salt has been used since the late 1960s.
It has several advantages:
• Reduced loss of salt from bounce and scatter.
(Savings up to 30%. See Figure 1)
• Quicker melting.
• Better salt penetration into ice and snow pack.
• Melts at a lower temperature if wetted with
other deicing chemicals
A link to the above-noted information is provided at the end of this report.


In coordination with other government agencies, the task force met frequently to ensure mutual communications, equipment and supplies were available to handle almost any wonder emergency. In 1978, the country encountered the worst winter in terms of snowfall and its history. Lexington was hit with more than 11 inches over just a few days. Although there were numerous other actions taken, prior to the snowfall, the appropriate portion of wetted salt was placed on all Interstate entrance and exit ramps and at various locations on the interstate where historically icing was more prevalent. Yes, we even knew the locations, such as on overpasses, bridges and other similar areas where ice formed more quickly and lasted longer than other areas. These areas where further treated with asphalt granules which was blended with the salt.

The same applications occurred on all major thoroughfares off of state roadways. Public safety and other various employees were provided to pound bags of the treated salt to place on their neighborhood street. Vehicles running over the wetted salt have a tendency to carry the chemically treated ingredients from one half to a full mile. Essentially, vehicles using the roadway where the salt was placed, would aid in the spreading process. While it wasn’t perfect, we were able to ensure most of the intercity and interstate highway accessibility.


Update: 1-30-2014

With all due respect to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, he has attempted to make the point that the governor or the state is responsible for the interstates and other states roads that traverse through out the entire Atlanta Metropolitan area. From my experience, the problems were primarily with the interstate roadways. In regard to the comments made by the state and the mayor’s office that the weather reports were conflicting, and having to manage through seven hurricanes during my tenure as city manager, we never took anything for granted. In emergency is something that is generally unexpected and therefore you must be prepared.