Incorrect signs warn Atlanta drivers of storm

by JEFF MARTIN, Associated Press

alt

In this Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014 file photo, In this aerial photo taken with a fisheye lens looking south toward downtown Atlanta, the ice-covered interstate system shows the remnants of a winter snow storm, in Atlanta. Less than nine days after a storm trapped commuters in cars and children on school buses in metro Atlanta, state officials say they "overreacted" to information from federal forecasters and posted incorrect information on giant message boards over freeways. (AP Photo/David Tulis, File)


ATLANTA (AP) — A little more than a week after snow trapped commuters in cars and children on school buses in metro Atlanta, state officials say they overreacted to information from federal forecasters and posted incorrect information on giant message boards over freeways, warning drivers of a new storm watch.

The signs flashed late Wednesday and into early Thursday, but the National Weather Service had issued no such watch.

"In our desire to proactively inform the traveling public of potential hazardous road conditions, we overreacted to a weather statement from the National Weather Service and incorrectly posted watch and warning messages on our overhead message signs," the Georgia Department of Transportation said in a statement. "We apologize for any confusion this may have caused."

National Weather Service forecasters had called state officials early Thursday to alert them to the error.

"We don't know why that happened," said Brian Lynn, a meteorologist at the weather service's metro Atlanta office in Peachtree City, Ga.

The large overhead message boards, seen by the millions of motorists who commute into and out of Atlanta, alert drivers to delays, wrecks and potential hazards such as bad weather.

A spokeswoman with the state transportation agency was checking Thursday to see whether the way it conveys messages on the signs would be changed in the future -- and whether the agency consults with a meteorologist before posting the alerts.

Those questions are best answered by the state transportation department, since it's not an agency that answers to Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, his spokesman Brian Robinson said.

Deal was among state and local leaders heavily criticized for the government's response to two inches of snow last week that led to gridlocked roads in metro Atlanta. Some people were stuck in their cars overnight along highways or abandoned them.

On Monday, the governor vowed to improve storm response and announced several changes in how the state communicates with Georgians before storms strike. Those reforms did not specifically address how weather information is conveyed on the freeway signs.



More Local

Ceremony held for new safety complex

Key leaders in Georgia and Newnan gathered at Newnan’s new public safety complex to commemorate its opening with a ribbon-cutting cere ... Read More


Package turns out to be harmless

Unity Elementary evacuated Thursday

Unity Elementary School in Luthersville was evacuated Thursday after “a suspicious package” was observed on the school grounds. ... Read More


Construction continues on Lower Fayetteville

The construction on Lower Fayetteville Road is bringing more lane closures because of problems with the soil on the south side of the projec ... Read More


Coweta Commission

Public hearing on Bridgeport Tuesday

The rezoning public hearing for the Bridgeport industrial development on U.S. 29 between Newnan and Moreland will be held Tuesday before the ... Read More


Benghazi

CIA security operator in Newnan for book tour

This week, Cowetans got the opportunity to discuss the 2012 Benghazi attack with a true expert on the subject, one of the private security c ... Read More

‘First Love’ getaway contest

Jackon’s high school ride part of museum exhibit

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s special exhibition, Alan Jackson: 25 Years of Keepin’ It Country, has been extended ... Read More