Whatever else it may turn out to be, the winter storm that will roll through north and central Georgia Tuesday night and Wednesday is the most anticipated storm in state history.

The reason is not unprecedented accumulations of snow and ice, but an unprecedented number of people living in metro Atlanta, and an unmatched amount of media attention, including national media.

The storm will also turn out to be a player in regional and state politics, one way or the other. Consider:

  • The storm’s effect could lessen or intensify criticism of Gov. Nathan Deal and state government. This storm isn’t the same animal as the one of Jan. 28; it’s almost certain to be worse. The question is, will conditions like downed power lines make people realize that government is able to do only so much when confronted by a surly Mother Nature? Or will it only make people angrier at government officials? …InsiderAdvantage polling since the Jan. 28 storm show that Deal’s perceived slow and inadequate reaction to the last storm has moved enough independent voters away from him to make a close governor’s race this fall a definite maybe.
  • With America — including comedians — watching with anticipation at how Atlanta and Georgia handle things this time around, it’s possible that the city’s suitability as a host for things like the Super Bowl is hanging in the balance. (Recall that Super Bowl XXXIV was here, and sure enough, it snowed.)
  • Will this storm up the ante of storm prevention and reaction planning by making it plain that more needs to be budgeted on resources like snow plows and sanding and salting materials? Will it dawn on the voters and public officials that America’s ninth-largest metropolitan area, an area situated largely on hills, has outgrown its lukewarm storm preparations of the past and present? Or will voters adopt a more philosophical stand — ‘there’s only so much we can do’?

If the people do wax philosophical, and if power outages aren’t too numerous or long-lasting, Gov.  Deal might actually benefit politically from all this. A perceived much-improved reaction by state government could serve to inoculate the governor from serious political damage as he heads into the spring and fall gubernatorial campaigns.

Again, this storm will prove to be different from the Jan. 28 storm in two important respects: First, of course, it likely will prove to have been worse for conditions on the ground. That’s sobering to contemplate for public officials.

But the second difference has been more time to prepare. This storm didn’t hit in the middle of the day, when workers and students were already away from home. This time, there were power trucks and equipment here from other states before the weather even got to Georgia.

In the aftermath of ‘Snow Jam II,’ it will be interesting to see how media and politicians will spin things.

For Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and others, the winter of 2014 already has proved that Mother Nature is capable of running things — sometimes into the ground.
















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