Bill Kirby

Online news editor for The Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta's Christmases are more wet than white

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I’m dreaming of a white Christmas …

– Irving Berlin

If you wake up next Sunday morning and there is snow outside, grab your cellphone and take a picture.

Around these parts, snow on the ground Christmas Day is so rare, no one remembers the last time it happened.

So rare, the weather service computer has no record of it.

National Weather Center records, which go back to 1850, have never officially reported snow falling on Christmas Day in Augusta.

I’ve asked old-timers over the years whether our town ever had a “white Christmas.” After a lot of head-scratching and chin-stroking, most everyone comes to the same recollection: No.

But last year we got close.

A Dec. 26 snowfall had areas north of the city reporting as much as 3 inches of accumulation, and slick roads had sheriff’s deputies blocking the westbound ramp from River Watch Parkway onto Interstate 20 until ice could be treated.

Such weather is rare. The weather service says December just isn’t a good month for frozen precipitation.

For example, Augusta officially recorded an inch of snow Dec. 23, 1993. In 1958, almost an inch fell Dec. 11. Less
than a half-inch was reported Dec. 3, 1972, and Dec. 17 and 18, 1989.

Officially.

Unofficially, a few have insisted for years that Augusta once had snow on Christmas – maybe in the 1940s.

I have, however, spent hours reading microfilm copies of The Chronicle and Augusta Herald and find no mention of it.

If Augusta has any sort of trend on Christmas Day, it would appear to be that it rains a lot.

Take Christmas Day 1945, which The Chronicle called “dismal.”

Actually, they could have called it worse, because the Christmas Day storm of 1945 seems to make it our most weather newsworthy Dec. 25 ever.

That year, the storm hit about 6 a.m. and knocked down trees and power lines, according to newspaper accounts.

“Trees and limbs block most of the highways,” said M.L. Plunkett, the Richmond County engineer.

He had six county employees working all day to clear the roads.

“Trees were uprooted. Live wires were sent hurtling into the streets, while lightning played havoc with high-tension wires,” The Chronicle editorially reported. “So far as could be ascertained … Santa Claus really came in on a wing and a prayer.

“Augusta yesterday morning awakened to one of the most dismal Christmas mornings in many years, as heavy rains, winds and low clouds kept the children indoors,” The Chronicle added.

Well, not entirely.

The newspaper also reported: “Last night at Allen Park Station, WGAC staged an aerial fireworks display for the children of the city. Despite the bad weather, many gathered in the park to witness the display.”

Some things never change.

It’s still hard to stop a child from enjoying Christmas.


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