It's pretty this morning, but look out for ice

Sofia Fuenmayor, 5, from Venezuela, learns how to make snow angles near the Evans amphitheater on Friday, Feb. 12, 2010.

Hitting the streets this  morning to check out Augusta's deepest snow in decades?

 

Watch out for ice.

With temperatures still around freezing at 8:30 a.m., Friday night's slush could be this morning's slide.

Major roads across the region appear passable, but secondary roads and neighborhood hills are still slippery.

In downtown Augusta, the Calhoun Expressway has been blocked off at Washington Road and motorists are diverted over to Broad Street and through Harrisburg.

The weather continues to cancel events, too. Paine College announced this morning that the Homecoming Parade scheduled for 10 a.m. has been called off, although other homecoming events are still scheduled for the weekend.

Snow totals vary across the region, but Jeff Rucker, NBC 26 meteorolgist, reported from 5 to 7 inches late Friday night.

That would be the heaviest snowfall since a record two-day snow event 37 years ago this week.

In fact, Friday night's snowfall was unusually heavy, according to an analysis of weather data from the monitoring station at Augusta Regional Airport.

Based on records that date back to 1961, just seven snowstorms have resulted in accumulations of two inches or more in Augusta, said Assistant Georgia State Climatologist Pam Knox. The last such event, which left 2.6 inches on the ground, occurred Jan. 19, 1992.

"One thing I notice is that Augusta has gotten many more of its storms in February," she said. Only two of the eight events occurred in January.

The largest-ever snowfall during that period was Feb. 9-10, 1973, with a combined accumulation of 14 inches.

The last such event was Jan. 21, 2009, when flurries were briefly reported across the Augusta area.

And while the snow was heavy, Steve Chalker, spokesman for Jefferson Electric Cooperative, said it's always preferable to ice.

"Typically snow is not nearly as detrimental to our system as an ice storm would be," Chalker said.

He asked customers to be patient if any outages occur and emphasized they will be ready to fix any problems.

Many of the problems late Friday appeared to be on local highways.

Dozens of accidents were reported in Richmond and Columbia counties after the snow began to come down more forcefully.

Pam Tucker, Columbia County's top emergency management official, said in an e-mail that the Roads & Bridges department had been busy around the county Friday evening with motor graders and salt trucks - scraping roads and salting bridges and overpasses.

She also reported at least 5 inches of snow had fallen, prompting numerous vehicle accidents.

Likewise, Richmond County reported dozens of accidents because of the snow.

Howard Willis, the Richmond County Emergency Management director, said traffic officials had been preparing for the storm since Wednesday and had a fleet of trucks loaded with salt and sand on Tobacco Road ready to keep highways as clear as possible.

 

Timeline: Augusta Snow Events

(2 inches or greater)

Feb. 9, 1967: 3.3 inches

Feb. 9, 1973: 8 inches

Feb. 10, 1973: 6 inches

Feb. 18, 1979: 3.4 inches

Feb. 6, 1980: 4.2 inches

Jan. 7, 1988:  2.3 inches

Feb. 23, 1989: 3.7 inches

Jan. 19, 1992: 2.6 inches

Source: Office of the Georgia State Climatologist

 

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