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South Georgia officials made the right call on closings

ALBANY HERALD EDITORIAL: Southwest Georgia fortunate to miss the icy problems that paralyzed Atlanta

OK, we have to admit that waking up Wednesday morning and looking out the window was a little bit like opening a brightly wrapped package beneath a Christmas tree and finding inside a pair of navy socks.

It was a little disappointing.

Snow is so rare in our part of the state that few occurrences can get people quite as giddy as the idea that a couple of inches of the white stuff will be covering the lawn when day breaks. When folks went to bed Tuesday night, it certainly seemed that prospects were good that some accumulation would be there in the morning.

On the other hand, we’d guess that many of our fellow Georgians in the north end of the state would have loved to have traded places with Southwest Georgia on Wednesday morning. Extended traffic tie-ups and wrecks seemed to be the order of the day as state transportation officials worked hard to mitigate the extensive problems and get traffic flowing again.

But with some slight variation to the way the weather pattern developed, our region could have been in the same fix the Atlanta area found itself in Wednesday. Three inches of snow overnight had devastating effects. Some vehicles were stalled more than 20 hours on impassable Interstate Highways, with one report saying that a woman gave birth while stuck on the Interstate in Atlanta. Reports were that there were more than 1,000 wrecks, 300 injuries and at last one fatality. There were reports that some students would stay at schools overnight.

Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for the state, and he and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed came under fire Wednesday for not reacting strongly enough to prepare with the treacherous conditions that the northern part of the state experienced from the wintry blast. Deal calling the storm “unexpected” also has drawn criticism.

Still, Wednesday’s “non-event” in our area has prompted some to question the decisions of school, government and service officials Tuesday to declare, more or less, a “snow day” and suspend operations.

We believe the local officials in Albany and Southwest Georgia made the right call despite the fact that conditions in our area did not deteriorate to the point that most had expected. Weather predictions, it has been said, are one part science, one part hunch and one part pure luck. The people who had to make the calls were using the best information they had available.

This time, our region didn’t feel the brunt of the storm that was predicted. Next time, who knows? If you’re going to err, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

The Albany Herald Editorial Board