The problem of "it came out of nowhere" or "we didn't think it would be this bad" is not unique to winter weather of course... we observe the same responses from the public during/after tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, you name it. Recently, virtually every major weather-related disaster has been amazingly well-forecast. That's a huge accomplishment for numerical models and for our National Weather Service.
However, while an accurate forecast does not prevent the event from happening, it does allow people to prepare as much as possible for the event.
In the case of an ice/snow storm, the ice and snow will still come, and can still knock out power and make roads slick, but the public's job is to obey the warnings and prepare for power losses and to avoid traveling unless it's an absolute emergency. In the case of a tornado, the correct response would be to immediately seek the best shelter you can get to. For a hurricane, it could be to evacuate the area completely before the storm arrives (or if you stay put, be prepared to be self-sustaining for at least several days).
With that introduction, here is Marshall's post:
An Open Thank You to Meteorologists in Atlanta
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