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Lessons Learned From The Winter Storm Nightmare


What a week in the south!  On Tuesday, everyone was going on their normal business when everything came to a halt!  Soon, kids were forced to spend an entire night at school, people were stranded on the interstate and were building bonfires, people abandoned their cars and walked home, it was like The Walking Dead was for real!  So how did all of this happen?  For starters, people should have never been stranded!  There was enough warnings already out!

I mean, most of the area was under a Winter Storm Warning or Winter Weather Advisory. What bothers me is most people out there are weather “illiterate.”  Meaning they don’t listen to the weather reports.  These people are the first ones to complain to officials or meteorologists after they were stranded, or a tornado destroys their house, or the weather messed up their lives.  My question is this, do you watch and understand the weather forecasts on TV or online?  You should know that snow was going to fall, so were you ready for it?  I was prepared for this event on Sunday, a few days before the snow fell.

If you knew that snow was going to fall and freeze over the roads, then why did you decide to go to work or send your kids to school?  School systems should have been closed for the day, and businesses should have not risked the safety of their employees to get work done.  And yes, if legislation needs to be passed that outlaws businesses firing people because of weather/road conditions, then that needs to happen!  No business should fire or punish their employees because the weather was bad or the road conditions were too hazardous.

Then there was the meteorologists in Alabama and Georgia.  Snow in the southeast is something that is almost impossible to predict.  You people in the north who are laughing at us after seeing the stranded people on the news needs to realize this.  The south has few to none snow plows and salt.  So when one inch of snow falls, everything could come to a halt!  The meteorologists did say snow will fall, they just made the mistake in the amount of snow that fell.  If people tell you that the weather people said no snow would fall and this was unexpected, that is a big fat lie!

This event is no one’s fault, the meteorologists have enough on their plates already!  Yeah, the weather folks have already admitted they made a bad forecast.  And you know what, they will make another bad forecast down the road.  Forecasting the weather is something you can’t get correct 100% of the time.  This is why it’s called a weather forecast and not a weather guarantee.  The people should have known about the warnings already issued and the snow threat and made the decision to stay home.  Next time snow is in the forecast, more businesses and schools will stay closed, and that is a good thing!

Then there is the Georgia and Alabama Department of Transportation.  In Alabama, it was so bad their website to check on road conditions crashed.  And even if their website to check cameras and speeds was working, it does not function very well.  ALDOT does not even have social media accounts to keep people up to date.  By the way, every other DOT in America has Facebook and Twitter accounts to keep people updated on road conditions, why does the Alabama DOT not have this?  ALDOT needs to join the 21st century, and quick!

And Georgia, you purchased these snow plows and salt trucks but it still did not prevent people from being stranded on Interstates for up to 24 hours.  What an embarrassment to the transportation people in Alabama and Georgia.  Everyone has talked about how two inches of snow brings major metro areas to an halt.  I have been critical to the Alabama and Georgia transportation officials on Geek Alabama, and I am going to be critical here.  The DOT’s in Alabama and Georgia need to restructure big time!  Instead of worrying about converting free lanes to toll lanes in Atlanta Metro.  Or spending over $5 Billion dollars on a Northern Beltline in Birmingham that is not needed.  Why not concentrate on maintaining the current roads or expanding mass transit?  I bet you if Atlanta or Birmingham had the mass transit networks you see in Chicago, Boston, New York City, or other major cities.  We would not see images of people being stranded.

And then there are the schools and businesses.  Even with Winter Storm Warnings and/or advisories being issued.  All schools went on with class, that turned into a massive failure.  In Atlanta Metro, a Winter Storm Warning was issued at 3:40 am.  There was plenty of time for schools and businesses to cancel their classes, but nope, they required students and employees to come in.  In Alabama, the Birmingham NWS was somewhat lacking, I thought a Winter Storm Warning was needed for all counties along and south of Interstate 59.  But since only an advisory was issued, everything went on as normal, until about 11 am when chaos started.

Soon, people were panicking, my mother was trying to get home on iced over roads, and later, some people became stranded and spent the night in their cars, and some kids spent the night in school, which is unacceptable!  And why did Jacksonville State not suspend classes to almost 12 noon, which was way too late?  Schools and businesses should have NEVER opened on Tuesday.  If you came to Geek Alabama and read my weather post on Monday Night, I said this:

I hope everyone along and south of Interstate 59 in Alabama has already gotten what they need for a few days, because once the snow falls, it will stick and cause road problems quickly, because temperatures will be below freezing. Travel problems will start on midday Tuesday and last through Thursday morning.

I would advise against traveling in the southern 2/3rds of Alabama on Tuesday night / Wednesday morning due to icy bridges and icy road conditions.

The problem, many people, including my own mother and friends, ignored my warnings about my predictions for a major snow event.  You know what happened next.  You see, I knew the roads would become skating rinks when the snow started to fall.  One, because Alabama and Georgia has had a cold January with many nights below freezing.  The ground was way cold enough for the snow to stick.  And two, it does not take much snow to create problems.  Even a dusting, which the meteorologists out of Birmingham were predicting, would cause problems.  I even put out a call map saying everyone along and south of I-59 would get 1-2 inches of snow, I guess I nailed the forecast!

Call Map

The interesting point is this.  The media in East Alabama, including TV 24, Anniston Star, Gadsden Times, and others, continues to see me as a threat.  I mean, I go out and cover the same events with pictures and video as their photographers do, and I don’t get paid, meaning I work for free.  Something is wrong in the universe when I do a better job with event coverage and stories than organizations with a paid staff does.  While doing this for free, and while on food stamps and applying for Social Security Disability.  I have filled out over 500 job applications and been to countless job fairs.  My mother has even filled out job applications in my place since I have not so good handwriting, but nothing has happened.

Maybe it’s time for the other media organizations to take a hard look on who they have on their staffs.  I have a lot of fans nationwide who all agree with me on one thing, one media organization (newspaper, TV station, website), needs to hire me Nathan Young.  I have taken great photographs, recorded great video footage, interviewed great people, talked about controversial stories, reviewed products and shows, covered the humanity aspect of life, and much more!  I have also built Geek Alabama to be one of the highest Alexa ranked media websites in Alabama, beating many newspapers and TV stations.  All while doing this for free and without pay.


I have tried all avenues to grow Geek Alabama, which means I need funding to grow things.  But each time, I have hit a roadblock.  I need funding to re-design the website, move to self-hosted, purchase new camera and computer equipment, and more.  I have tried crowdsourcing campaigns, banks, the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, and more, but nothing has happened.  I don’t get it, many people love my coverage of events and other stuff.  I would like to expand the event coverage and other geeky/nerdy things like reviews, gaming, interviews, weather, and more!  I would also love to partner with a TV station since the big blogs (like me), often come on once a week to talk about stuff.  But I wonder if any of that is going to happen, or do I need to consider leaving the Anniston area and moving on to greener pastures?

I am not a person who you need to be scared of!  Yes, I have Asperger’s Syndrome, which the media has done a good job labeling as something dangerous.  If a person who is getting public assistance is doing a better job with media coverage than a full paid staff, then something is wrong!  If any media organization or investor is looking for someone who is willing to go beyond minimal standards to get the job done, then please consider me Nathan Young.  If you want to learn more, take a look at my visual resume and infographic below.  And e-mail me at [email protected]

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