Southbound traffic on Interstate 575 between Georgia Hwy. 20 and Riverstone Parkway are bottlenecked in Canon, Ga., Jan. 28, 2014. (Kelly J. Huff/The Marietta Daily Journal/AP Photo)

[ABC News]

Officials in Georgia are on the defensive, trying to explain why Atlanta was so ill-prepared for a snow storm that gridlocked highway traffic, leaving thousands of students stranded in schools and on buses, bringing out National Guardsmen and state troopers to help with rescue efforts.

The icy weather wreaked similar havoc across much of the South, closing schools and highways, grounding flights and contributing to at least a dozen deaths from traffic accidents and a mobile home fire.

Yet it was Atlanta, home to major corporations and the world’s busiest airport, that was Exhibit A for how a Southern city could be sent reeling by winter weather that, in the North, might be no more than an inconvenience.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal blamed weather forecasters, saying he was caught off-guard due to a changing forecast.

At one point, the only accumulating snow was expected to fall south of Atlanta.

“At that time, it was still, in most of the forecasts, anticipated that the city of Atlanta would only have a mild dusting or a very small accumulation if any,” Deal said at a Wednesday press conference. “Preparations were made for those predictions.”


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