Just above freezing

Chris Thelen/Staff
A man braves the cold on the Riverwalk. With Augusta's temperature steady at just above freezing Thursday, there was little time for ice to form.

Augusta missed frozen mayhem by a mere two degrees Thursday, but winter is far from over.

"Ice storms are rare enough that it's hard to make blanket statements about them," said Assistant Georgia State Climatologist Pam Knox. "But we can look up the most likely months for snow."

Based on records kept since 1961, more snow falls in Augusta in February than in January, she said.

Historically, the average January snowfall is 0.3 inch, while February's average is 1 inch. The remaining 10 months of the year have an average of zero.

"This time it hung just above freezing, so there wasn't time to develop much of anything," she said of Thursday's cold, rainy mix. "But there is still time left for other storms."

The record one-day snowfall in Augusta occurred in February 1973, when 14 inches were recorded at Augusta Regional Airport.

With a window of several weeks remaining for winter weather, Thursday's preparations for ice that never materialized turned into a good practice session.

"We had all our crews across the state ready and packed for seven days," said Georgia Power Co. spokesman John Sell. "We also had people in south Georgia on standby to move north."

Locally, Columbia County's Emergency Services Department made preparations to spread salt and sand on icy roads and fired up its emergency command center.

"There were hundreds of people on standby when you consider all the departments that would have a role," director Pam Tucker said. "We were just two degrees away. That can make all the difference in the world."

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.