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The Daily Tar Heel

Surprise Snow Causes Few Problems

The Orange County area was visited by 1 to 2 inches of snow, said Meteorologist Jonathan Blaes of the National Weather Service office in Raleigh. Starting with sleet some time between 7 a.m and 9 a.m. and changing to mixed precipitation half an hour later, Orange County finally saw snow starting around 11 a.m. to noon, which came to an end by the late evening.

"By between 6 (p.m.) and 7 (p.m.), it was over (in Chapel Hill)," Blaes said. "It was extremely heavy, wet snow that melts pretty quickly, but it came down so fast for so long that it didn't have time to melt.

"The ground and roads were still warm, so they had less accumulation than trees and car tops."

The nearly negligible accumulation on the roads kept them safe, said Carrboro police Capt. John Butler.

"We didn't really have any problems at all," he said. "The snow didn't stick to the roads during the day, and by night it had stopped snowing."

It was also a quiet day in Chapel Hill as far as snow-related accidents were concerned, said Jane Cousins, Chapel Hill police spokeswoman.

"Everything was fine," she said. "If there have been (any accidents), they were so minor that I didn't even hear about them."

But the early snow this year does not guarantee a white Christmas, said Blaes.

"It doesn't necessarily mean a lot for snow lovers; it was almost a fluke," he said. "(The early snow) doesn't mean anything as to what the rest of the winter will be like.

"In December it may be a little bit more cold and wet than normal, but you can't combine those and say it'll snow."

But in the event that this winter sees a snowstorm like the one experienced last year, Carrboro Street Superintendent David Poythess says that his town is prepared.

"Just like we did last year, we'll use our forces," he said. "One thing we do is train our personnel, who will be on standby. We have three snowplows, a motorgrader and two sand-salt spreaders."

Field Operations Superintendent Richard Terrell said Chapel Hill will also be ready for any snow that falls.

"We have a snow plan with classifications for different streets, with primary streets attended to first," he said. "(Streets with) no outlets come last. We have nine snowplows and three spreaders, and we work in conjunction with the state.

"Each situation is unique, but yes, we are prepared."

The City Editor can be reached


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