Rare winter storm brings more than 3 inches of snow to parts of Georgia


Highlights

Officially, 1.2 inches of snow fell at the Savannah airport.

Officially, 1.2 inches of snow fell at the Savannah airport.

Gov. Nathan Deal had declared a state of emergency in 28 counties.

Metro Atlanta is part of a wind chill advisory that goes into effect at 5 a.m. Thursday.

ATLANTA FORECAST

Today: Partly cloudy. High: 38

Tonight: Mostly clear. Low: 23

Tomorrow: Cold. High: 33

» For a detailed forecast, visit The Atlanta Journal-Constitution weather page.

It’s been nearly 30 years since Savannah and parts of the Georgia coast saw this much snow, according to Channel 2 Action News. 

Bulloch and Effingham counties, which are northwest of Savannah, saw 3.5 inches, Channel 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz said. 

Officially, 1.2 inches of snow fell at the Savannah airport. 

“That’s sixth place on the all-time snowfall total list and the most since December 23, 1989,” Nitz said. “No. 1 on the list is 3.6 inches on February 8, 1968.”

Ned and Kim Gay live in Savannah's historic Ardsley Park neighborhood, one block from where a giant water oak came crashing down on a house during Hurricane-turned-Tropical Storm-Irma last year.

Just a few months later, the crazy weather was back, this time in the form of something they rarely see.

"Icicles, on the house!" an incredulous Kim Gay said.

Her husband was headed to work in downtown Savannah on Wednesday morning when his business partner called with a warning about the icy roads, growing slicker by the minute. They quickly reassessed things, given the closure of the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and word that the Truman Parkway was closing due to icy conditions. By mid-morning, she rendered a wise verdict: "We're staying home today."


What started as sleet quickly changed over to snow throughout Chatham County, Channel 2 reported. The system then moved into South Carolina, where even more snow accumulated. 

Charleston saw 5 inches, Nitz said. 

“That’s third place on the all-time snowfall list and the most since February 10, 1973,” he said. “No. 1 on the list is 6 inches on December 23, 1989.”

By 9:15 p.m., fewer than 9,000 people were affected by 319 power outages, according to Georgia Power.

Gov. Nathan Deal earlier declared a state of emergency through Friday for 28 counties in the coastal region.

MORE: State of emergency declared for coastal Georgia ahead of winter storm

As the snow accumulated and visibility on I-16 dropped Wednesday, the Chatham Emergency Management Agency announced the closure of the airport. Some travelers, however, who were already at the airport were stranded, Monahan said. The airport will remain closed until at least 8 a.m. Thursday, he said.

Savannah State University, Savannah Technical College, Savannah College of Art and Design, city offices and Savannah-Chatham Public Schools previously announced they would be closed Wednesday.

The Georgia Department of Public Safety warned drivers to “use extreme caution” and tweeted about dangerous conditions on local highways.

Multiple roads in Chatham County were closed, according to emergency officials.

While no roads or bridges were closed in Glynn County, they were icy, slick and unsafe, Brunswick police said.

“If you can stay off the roads,” the department said in a Facebook post, “please do so.”

Glynn and Camden counties also face a coastal flood advisory in effect until 10 p.m. Wednesday.

“Rip currents will be life threatening,” the National Weather Service said in the advisory.

City offices in Savannah are expected to reopen at noon Thursday and Savannah City Council meets at 2 p.m. with a work session afterward. 

Closer to home, low temps are the concern.

“We just don’t have the moisture here to see any snow,” Nitz said.

Metro Atlanta is not part of Deal’s emergency declaration, but it is part of a wind chill advisory that goes into effect at 5 a.m. Thursday.

MORE: What does the advisory mean? 

“It will be dangerously cold,” Channel 2 meteorologist Karen Minton said. “We could have winds up to 30 mph (Thursday). And that’s going to make it feel awful.”

As a result, Murray County schools announced it will delay classes Thursday by two hours, according to Channel 2.

Atlanta could wake up to lows in the teens Thursday and the wind chill could make it feel colder than that.

“Temperatures will feel like 5 degrees to 10 degrees below zero,” Minton said. “Exposed skin can get frostbite in as little as 30 minutes in this cold.”

The advisory, which covers Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Gwinnett, Hall, Fulton, Paulding and other counties, is set to expire at 10 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Currently, the temperature is 31 degrees in Atlanta. The high is expected to reach only 33 degrees Thursday.



Next Up in Local

Dog recovers after attack by hawk in backyard
Dog recovers after attack by hawk in backyard

A dog in Massachusetts is on the mend after she was attacked in her backyard by a hawk. It's been a few days for Daisy and her owner Susan Nascimeno after the 10-year-old bichon frise was attacked by a hawk Monday afternoon while fenced in her East Freeport backyard.  "She was just covered in blood -- her chest, back, butt, everything was...
Texas man gets life in prison for beating, stomping girlfriend's baby
Texas man gets life in prison for beating, stomping girlfriend's baby

A Texas man was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday after his conviction for beating and stomping his girlfriend’s baby to death, KDFW reported. Joshua Beard and the child’s mother, Alexis Botello, are accused of burying the girl in Parker County. According to police, in 2014 Beard slammed 18-month old Tylea so hard onto a bed that...
Missing 15-year-old Kentucky girl found safe in Louisville, police say
Missing 15-year-old Kentucky girl found safe in Louisville, police say

A 15-year-old Kentucky girl who left school to leave with an unknown person has been found, WKYT reported Thursday. Amber Renae Wagers was found safe in Louisville, the Berea Police Department said in a Facebook post. Wagers, 15, walked out of Berea Community School around 10 a.m. Wednesday to leave with an unknown person, police said. Investigators...
James Shaw Jr. raises $170,000 for Waffle House shooting victims
James Shaw Jr. raises $170,000 for Waffle House shooting victims

James Shaw Jr., who disarmed a gunman who opened fire at a Waffle House in Tennessee on Sunday, has raised more than $170,000 in a fundraiser to help the victims’ families, CNN reported. Shaw, who wrestled a rifle away from the gunman and tossed it over the counter, launched a GoFundMe campaign that easily topped its $15,000 goal. Four...
Kim Jong Un steps over border, meets with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in
Kim Jong Un steps over border, meets with South Korean leader Moon Jae-in

In an electric moment, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stepped over the heavily fortified demilitarized zone to shake hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Reuters reported Friday. Smiling and holding hands, the Korean leaders met for the first summit between the two nations in more than a decade.  It’s the first time since...
More Stories