Snow, Snowy Owls, and Lack of Snow: What's Ruining Our Cities This Week

It's been an especially cold and dreary winter week for just about everyone—except the host city for the Winter Olympics. It's a rather chilly peek at what's Ruining Our Cities.

Two inches of snow ruined most of the South

You've seen the Walking Dead references, now read the analysis of how a small winter storm froze an entire region, meteorologically and logistically. Everyone's quick to point the blame somewhere. It's because Atlanta's various municipal governments can't work together. It's because Southerners can't drive in the snow. It's because of a lack of transportation infrastructure. Meanwhile, the national guard is still towing abandoned cars from local highways. Oh, and rain is forecast for the weekend. [Gizmodo, The Atlantic, Politico, CNN]

Snowy owls are ruining runways

No one seems eager to vacation in the Polar Vortex that's gripping the nation, but some unlikely visitors have been flocking to our record-breaking temperatures: Snowy owls, rarely seen in the lower 48, have been spotted as far south as Florida. Unfortunately, our Arctic Circle friends haven't acclimated to our snow-covered cities; one was hit by a bus in D.C. this week (he's okay). Now the owls have made themselves at home at local airports because the runways look like frozen tundra, but they're extremely dangerous to planes. Three snowy owls were actually shot at New York's JFK airport—although they're trying to scare them away with fireworks now, instead. [New York Times]

Not enough snow is ruining Sochi

Winter Olympics host city Sochi, Russia, is plagued with problems just a week from the start of the games: Unfinished buildings, a ballooning budget, and now—no snow. Olympic organizing committee chief Dmitry Chernyshenko is making an appeal to a higher power: Altai shamans. The Siberian spiritual guides will be conducting a special ceremony to bring winter weather for the games. But, if that doesn't work, they have a backup: Over 500 artificial snow machines are being supplied with water from two man-made lakes, and organizers have even been stockpiling snow in refrigerated warehouses. [Gizmodo]

Top image: AP Photo/David Tulis