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Iced-in Atlanta almost completely shut down, another Arctic front coming

Local buses aren't running. Mail service is suspended. Even a salt truck crashed. What happens to a city of 5 million with eight snow plows? Break out Twitter and the 'Star Wars' figurines!

By Staff writer / January 11, 2011

Truckers Bill Dougherty (l.) Chis Vlad (c.) and Jim Plewinski walk on Interstate 285 as their trucks sit stranded for more than 24 hours from a winter storm that turned the road into a sheet of ice Tuesday in Atlanta. (AP Photo/)

David Goldman/AP

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Atlanta

Citizens of the South's largest city sat inside Tuesday with unplowed roads and uncleared sidewalks, stunned by a bitter winter storm that quickly converted the city's nickname from Hotlanta to "Hothlanta," in honor of the frozen planet from the "Star Wars" sequel, "The Empire Strikes Back."

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"If I had a Tauntaun, I'd be able to get to my hair appt. Instead I'm stuck at home again," tweeted Atlanta writer Beth Dolgner.

"Nobody's going anywhere for a very long time," Tweeted Tim Alborg.

Indeed, much of the city remained impassable Tuesday as a sadly outmatched contingent of plows and sand trucks failed to make much of a dent in the one-inch ice sheet that remained after the six-inch Sunday night snow that paralyzed much of the Deep South, and most notably its symbolic capital. The snow quickly turned into a treacherous driving experience, with hundreds of accidents reported. Even a salt truck spun out against a wall, blocking traffic.

Another Arctic cold front moving into the area nearly guaranteed that much of the city won't move until warmer weather arrives this weekend, pointing out, for many, the woeful inadequacy of storm response. Only eight plows were working the city's side streets and another 45 were trying – often vainly – to clear the one-inch layer of ice from the city's famously crowded interstates.

Resident Lance Blair said he used a hockey stick to clear a 150 foot path in front of his house, becoming a symbol of the city's general state of unpreparedness.

Gallows humor quickly set in: "Forecast: 100 percent chance of frustration," noted the acerbic Atlanta Journal-Constitution Twitter feed. Comedy Central's faux talking head Stephen Colbert helped out, suggesting that Atlantans had dubbed the storm "The Weather of Northern Aggression."

But at least the refrigerators were on and Internet connections up. Only a few hundred homes lost power from the storm.

A city utterly stalled

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