Originally created 01/01/02

Forecast calls for chance of snowfall



For the second year in a row, a new calendar could be bringing in snow.

The National Weather Service's forecast for Wednesday is mostly cloudy with a chance of snow or rain. Temperatures will be "upper 30s maximum" during the day and in the lower 30s at night, said Tina Morrison, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Columbia.

"For Wednesday night, we have a 60 percent chance (of snow)," she said. "So, it's looking like it could happen."

Ms. Morrison said the snow might stick.

"We're probably looking at maybe about an inch," she said. "That's the maximum we're talking about now."

The snow is then expected to continue into Thursday morning, dissipating by the afternoon. The high temperature Thursday will hover around 40.

The talk of wintry weather has local emergency officials talking and planning. Columbia County Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said the county's list of volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles was updated in early December.

"Everything has been pre-planned, even though it was like 80 degrees when we were working on it," she said. "We knew that in January or February, we could have a problem."

If there is accumulation - and in the Augusta area, it doesn't take much to shut down school and businesses - everyone should try to stay put, Mrs. Tucker said.

"If we do get snow or ice, and you don't have to go somewhere, it's probably best just to stay at home," she said. "We have a lot of vehicle accidents when we get a little ice on our roads. That's the main concern we have."

If Augusta does get snow Wednesday, it will be nearly one year to the week since the last snowfall. That happened Jan. 9, 2001, Ms. Morrison said.

This time, she said, the cause will be an upper-level disturbance now moving across the Southwest, which should "spin up a low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico."

That will provide for a mixture of moisture with colder air, which Ms. Morrison said traveled South about a week ago from Canada because of a change in the upper level of the atmosphere.

On Monday, forecasters revised their predictions, saying the storm would arrive by as early as Wednesday morning - not Thursday, as they first expected.

"The system is moving a little quicker," she said.

National Hills Publix Manager Jerry Sapp said he hadn't heard a lot of snow talk at the Washington Road supermarket, but business was steady, the product of New Year's Eve.

"If we are really busy tomorrow, that's a snow rush," he said Monday. "Normally, New Year's Day is real weak, because everybody is relaxing and staying at home."

Reach Preston Sparks or Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222 or ccchron@augustachronicle.com.