Atlanta dealing with snow crisis

ATLANTA — It’s a simple question that had to be asked.

What are the good folks of Atlanta more afraid of — being haunted by the memory of a 28-3 Super Bowl lead that evaporated quickly thanks to Tom Brady or by the threat of snow?

The answer came back on Tuesday almost unanimous — snow.

Schools were closed in the Atlanta area and city and state officials urged offices to close, as well.

Not a flake could be seen on the ground. But an inch or two of snow had been expected.

Shutdown.

When you finish laughing hysterically, read on.

“The thought of snow,” Atlanta police officer Steve Payne said when asked the question. “With the volume of traffic on the freeways. We have the equipment. It’s just preparation.”

Yikes. Another bystander who didn’t want to give his name simply said, “It wipes out our city.”

“The snow,” Atlanta resident and Super Bowl volunteer Karen Wood said. “I was stuck eight hours on I-75 the last time. The inclement weather is a threat to our city.”

Oh, boy. We will say this, it wasn’t Hot-Lanta on Tuesday; in fact you wouldn’t have known the difference with the chilly wind from a typical Northeast January day. Don’t think there was any golf played by the New England Patriots or the Los Angeles Rams on their day off. There wasn’t.

There was a Ferris wheel set up downtown as part of the Super Bowl festivities. Don’t think that was being used, either. Brrrrrr.

But Atlanta residents, you see, are not only haunted by the memory of the Patriots great Super Bowl comeback two years ago, but also by the memory of a bad 2014 snowstorm, the one Wood talked about. People here call it “Snowmageddon.”

The total then: Two inches. But it paralyzed the city. With that much possible Tuesday, fear gripped Atlanta, which still has a decent baseball stadium, Turner Field, sitting empty within sight of the spectacular Mercedes-Benz Stadium, site of Super Bowl LIII.

They put brine and salt on the roads and sidewalks.

“We’re prepared this year,” someone said. “There won’t be any catastrophe.”

You’d think the catastrophem still fresh in people’s minds, would have been 28-3, right? Super Bowl volunteer Shelley Beavers remembers she was at an Atlanta event watching the Falcons-Patriots Super Bowl. She wasn’t convinced it was over at that point, and she saw fans’ hopes sink when Dont’a Hightower strip-sacked Falcons QB Matt Ryan.

“They knew it was over,” she said. “But I knew (Brady) could come back. There was too much time.”

Now that’s a football fan. Actually, Beavers, a California native, went to junior high and high school in Rialto, California, with former San Francisco 49er great Ronnie Lott. She knows a good football player when she sees one. She’s also a 49ers fan. Jimmy Garrapolo all the way.

“He’s gooooood,” she said.

Oh, boy. Grin and bear it, Pats fans.

Sharon Smith runs a little newsstand at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and, believe it or not, was a little disappointed there was no sow. But she’s got plenty of Super Bowl souvenirs to sell, and cringes when she thinks of 28-3.

“That,” she said, “was hard to take. The Atlanta Falcons have always been my team and always will be. A heartbreaker.”

Bruce, a Super Bowl volunteer who didn’t feel comfortable giving his last name, is looking forward to another memorable Tom Brady performance, even though one of those performances came after, well, it was 28-3.

Well, yeah, I mean if they win, six Super Bowls, what an accomplishment. It will be great for him and their team.”

But Bruce is still haunted by the memory.

“Sure, who would have thought they could come back from that kind of a deficit,” he said. “Unless you’ve got Tom Brady on their team. So I’m looking forward to seeing another Tom Brady excellent performance this year, to tell you the truth.”

Beavers has heard from a few people she knows in town that the Falcons fans are very glad it’s the Rams representing the NFC and not the New Orleans Saints, who really should be here. Sounds like they’re ready to give the refs who worked the NFC Championship Game a key to the city.

“They didn’t want them coming and winning a Super Bowl in their stadium before they did,” she said. “Anybody but the Saints.”

People in Atlanta can breathe easy. By 1 p.m., the sun was out, even if the wind was howling.

And those hated Saints aren’t marching in. No Saints. No snow.

Just Tom Brady. But at least he didn’t bring the dreaded winter catastrophe with him.

This time.

Tom King may be reached at 603-594-1251, tking@nashuatelegraph.com, or @Telegraph–TomK.

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