As Bostonians and millions of other New Englanders dug out Monday from yet another in a series of rat-a-tat snowstorms, bands of heavy snow began veiling parts of the South, including Louisville, Ky.; Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn.; and Little Rock, Ark.
For both regions, the weather is hardly the norm. The wave-by-wave storms have already made February the snowiest month ever for Boston, wreaking havoc on mass transit and reducing the city’s already Colonial-narrow streetscape into a lab rat maze. The land of Super Bowl champions' record for total snowfall in a winter could also be broken.
New England is “in uncharted territory” regarding the logistics of so much snow, Frank Libby told the Associated Press as he walked down a deserted street in Boston.
Meanwhile, snow pushed deep into the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and the South more broadly. Northern Georgia could see up to four inches of snow, and many store shelves were empty in Nashville as Music City faced its worst snowstorm in a decade.
Acknowledging that Boston is still ticking even after accumulating 58.5 inches in February alone, CNN’s Faith Karimi and Mariano Castillo write: “It takes a fraction of that to get residents in the South into emergency mode. Sometimes ... just the possibility of wintry weather is enough for a partial shutdown.”
To be sure, winters have been rough the past few years in the US East. And that has forced officials, from the Boston transit authorities to the state weather guys in Atlanta, to become more pro-active in making sure that the cranky weather doesn't grind society to a halt.
For the first time ever, Georgia spread an anti-slick salt brine on roads ahead of the front. The state added the tactic after last January’s snowstorm, in which a thin but slippery layer of snow created epic gridlock that brought America’s ninth-largest metro area to a standstill for days.
And Memphis International Airport halted flights as a precaution while an icy mix fell on the tarmac.
Thanks to the experience they've gained with winter weather, Southern states, on the whole, proclaimed they were ready to fend off the squalls. Emergency response agencies in Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, West Virginia, Alabama, and Georgia were in full gear, trying to ensure the storm doesn’t overwhelm vulnerable residents.
In Alabama, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) put the National Guard on alert and warned residents to stay “winter aware as weather conditions may change unexpectedly.”
After this weekend’s storm – which brought near-hurricane winds, smacks of “thundersnow,” and nearly two feet of the white stuff to New England areas – temperatures in the region plunged, in some places to record lows. That cold is now chasing across the Appalachians, Ozarks, and middle Mississippi River Valley.
"In addition to the widespread precipitation expected, the unusually cold weather is forecast to continue through much of the upcoming week for the eastern U.S., with temperature anomalies on the order of 20 to 30 degrees below average by mid-February standards," the National Weather Service wrote Monday.
Last year, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) of Georgia literally slept through the early stages of the embarrassing gridlock storm, though an aide took the fall by saying he didn't follow the governor's order to wake him if the weather outlook worsened. Safe to say, Govenor Deal won't be sleeping through the storm this time around.