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The Daily Tar Heel

Surprise Snow Falls on UNC

Wet, heavy snow fell over the western two-thirds of the state on Sunday, marking the first time in more than 30 years that so much fell so early.

The last time a similar amount accumulated so early in the Raleigh area was Nov. 12, 1968, when 1.2 inches fell, according to Gail Hartfield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The earliest snowfall on record came Nov. 6, 1953, when six-tenths of an inch was measured.

The Raleigh-Durham International Airport first reported mixed precipitation at 8 a.m. Sunday, which gradually changed to snow by 10 a.m., accumulating on grassy surfaces and elevated areas.

When junior Adaam Hukins woke up Sunday morning, he said he thought it was raining but that he was delighted to discover fluffy flakes falling from the sky.

"I was happy, and I called people right away to see if they wanted to play, but no one wanted to play," he said.

Disappointed, Hukins said, he went to the library to work instead. "It's a nice surprise, but we're still going to have class."

By Sunday afternoon, the snow had caused few problems in traffic or safety.

Base 3 operator William Smith of the Chapel Hill Police Department said the only accidents had been minor, and that the roads were just slushy.

"The only bad one for right now would be Weaver Dairy Road because it is such a steep hill," he said.

On the UNC campus, University police also faced few problems.

"We had two incidents with vehicles - just minor fender-benders," Robin Harris, a dispatcher with the Department of Public Safety, said Sunday afternoon.

"Doesn't seem like anything out of the ordinary for a normal shift. I suspect that will come later in the day when it starts to freeze."

Only a handful of students could be found on campus Sunday afternoon reveling in the snowy surprise.

Freshman Emily Davidson said she woke up to find a snowman outside her room at Hinton James Residence Hall but that not too many people had been out playing.

"There have been a few but not as many as I expected," she said.

Davidson said she harbored mixed feelings about the wintry weather.

"I have a (calculus) test tomorrow, and I hope it sticks," she said.

"But I'm kind of worried because I don't have any warm clothes."

Other students also were caught off guard by the sudden snowfall.

Junior Brian Oten from Chicago said he is used to snow but did not expect it here.

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"I came here to get away from the cold and the snow, actually," he said.

But officials say the wintry precipitation will quickly clear in the next few days.

"We got a lot more precipitation than we expected as far as quantity," said Shaun Baines of the Raleigh office of the National Weather Service.

"We do expect once it lightens up or even stops later tonight, most of it will melt."

But Baines warned drivers to be cautious because temperatures will remain low for the next few days.

"The typical spots such as bridges and overpasses will likely be slick tomorrow," he said.

By Sunday afternoon, N.C. Department of Transportation vehicles were standing by in case of icy conditions.

Representatives said that although icy conditions had not yet been reported, vehicles were monitoring the roads.

The snowfall ended at about 6 p.m. in the Chapel Hill area.

Accumulation was expected to be no more than an inch on roadways, and temperatures were expected to remain steady in the low 30s.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

The City Editor can be reached


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