Originally created 11/22/06

Wintry mix comes as surprise



The last time the Augusta area saw wintry weather this early, Richard Nixon was president-elect and the war in Vietnam was raging.

Varying degrees of freezing rain, sleet and snow were reported across the area Tuesday, with the heaviest snow in the south.

The frozen precipitation should turn to rain today with temperatures in the 50s, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Schuetrum in West Columbia, S.C.

Thursday's weather will be partly cloudy, and temperatures will reach as high as the mid-60s.

"That's a whole lot better than what we've had," Mr. Schuetrum said.

The ice and snow is expected to melt early today, as temperatures rise. The rain, however, could hang around, he said.

Officials said the area's earliest recorded snowfall was Nov. 11, 1968.

Operator Dell Bragg at the Georgia State Patrol Sylvania post in Screven County said snow started to fall at about 6:15 p.m. Tuesday and appeared to be about an inch thick.

"It's such an unexpected surprise," she said. "The kids are just elated; they're having the best time."

Burke County saw a few "fat" flakes, according to Deputy Paul Gay of the Burke County Sheriff's Department. He said the snow melted once it touched the ground.

Accumulating snow and slick roads led to at least a dozen wrecks in Barnwell County, mostly in the northern part, said Sheriff Ed Carroll. None of the wrecks resulted in serious injury.

Barnwell County Emergency Management Director Roger Riley said the accumulation came as a surprise.

"There's still some (snow) on the roads but it's a lot better now than it was at 5 p.m.," Mr. Riley said around 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Mr. Schuetrum said temperatures should remain about the same as last year, but precipitation is expected to increase and it could lead to more wintry weather as the weeks and months wear on.

"If you've got more precipitation and with normal temperatures, we might have a little more snow fall or possibly more ice," Mr. Schuetrum said. "It just depends on how the systems stack up."

David Berman of The (Barnwell) People-Sentinel contribued to this article.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.