Rare December Snowstorm Impacts Deep South States

By Mack Wilowski, National News Editor

A number of states across the southern U.S., including Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina, were impacted by a rare snowstorm on Saturday, December 9, blanketing roadways and towns throughout the region. According to meteorologists at the National Weather Service, the snowstorm was caused by a colliding front of frigid air coming off the Great Lakes region into the South, with moist air from the Gulf of Mexico. “It’s very, very abnormal and rare that we would get totals like that during this time of year”, replied meteorologist Sid King in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

According to reports released late Saturday, snowfall totals exceeded ten inches in parts of northwestern Georgia, at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, while the Atlanta metro area received up to seven inches.  Similar accumulations of up to seven inches were recorded in parts of Alabama and Mississippi, and minor flurries were even reported over Gulf Coast cities such as New Orleans. The snow, however, did not remain on the ground for long, as rising temperatures on Sunday and Monday caused a quick melting, and otherwise worried residents returned to their work schedules on Monday morning.

Nevertheless, the Saturday storm stunned many and had powerful short-term effects. An estimated 334,000 homes across four states lost electricity, the majority of which were located in northern Georgia, within an hour’s drive from Atlanta. According to the Wall Street Journal, Southern Pine Electric Company had over 10,500 customers without power on Saturday, after previously exceeding 20,000 at the peak of the storm. It could take several days to have power completely restored to all households and dwelling affected by the storm.

Meanwhile, the freezing temperatures lasting through most of Saturday caused icy road surfaces and widespread delays at the busiest airport in the United States, Hartfield-Jackson Atlanta International, according to Time Magazine. Out of 1200 flights scheduled to take off, up to 400 were cancelled, according to airport spokeswoman Reese McCranie. As stated by Time, Atlanta Hartfield holds the global record for most pass-through passengers arriving at any airport in the world. This is because it serves as a connection hub linking east coast and west coast destinations, and many international passengers connect to Atlanta before flying off to other major cities in the Central and Western United States.

A good amount of people sought to enjoy the spectacle while it lasted, especially those who had never encountered snow before. Tim Moss, a resident of central Florida who was informed of the snowfall further north, drove up with his wife and children to Atlanta to witness snow for the first time, leaving the 80-degree temperatures of their hometown. “It’s beautiful, said Moss in an interview with Time as his wife and kids played in the snow. The couple was puzzled as to why others were choosing to stay home.

Following midday Saturday, the snowstorm moved further up the Atlantic coast, dumping up to 14 inches in parts of North Carolina and western Virginia. However, by early Sunday most of the storm’s intensity had dissipated as it moved further North along the coast. Its impact on the Mid-Atlantic region and New England was relatively minor, with snowfall total no greater than five inches in most places. With its significant effect on the Southern United States and little to no major effect on the Northeast, this storm was truly an unusual one to start off the 2017-18 winter season two weeks before Christmas.

 

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 12th print edition.

Contact Mack at

maciej.wilowski@student.shu.edu

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