Valdosta Daily Times

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January 31, 2014

Ala. Gov. says ice storm no one’s fault

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Gov. Robert Bentley said forecasters were plain wrong about the winter storm that brought Birmingham to an icy, messy halt, but he discouraged people from playing the blame game.

“We go by what the National Weather Service says and they probably missed it by 150 miles, but no one really knows. It’s no one’s fault,” Bentley said in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday.

The winter storm gave the Birmingham area a surprise wallop Tuesday stranding 11,000 students at public schools, causing chaos on roads that weren’t treated for ice and leaving thousands of cars abandoned and many wrecked.

Angry parents vented on social media and talk radio about meteorologists who blew the forecast by predicting central Alabama would get only a trace of snow and experience no travel problems.

Bentley said people shouldn’t blame meteorologists if prediction models failed.

But unlike Atlanta, where there was much finger pointing among public officials, Alabama leaders mostly said people did the best they could.

In Montgomery, a Birmingham Democrat even took to the Senate floor to praise the Republican governor for directing help to Jefferson County once the storm shifted north.

“The governor should get kudos for what he’s doing in this situation,” said Sen. Rodger Smitherman. “The moment it hit, they started shifting things back to our county.”

In Atlanta the National Weather Service contended its forecast was “spot on.” The Weather Service had acknowledged problems with the Alabama prediction, but said it always tried to stress the uncertainty of the storm.

The Alabama forecast had initially predicted snow and ice in the lower half of the state, approximately 75 miles south of Birmingham. The Alabama Department of Transportation sent salt, brine and trucks south of Birmingham.

“We didn’t think above Clanton that there would be much of anything, at least by the weather forecast,” Bentley said.

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