A rare series of snow showers that fell Friday night and into Saturday morning across Atmore and Escambia County proved area weathermen wrong and created a virtual Winter Wonderland for local children of all ages.
Forecasters had predicted that there was a “slight chance” of wintry precipitation that could include snow falling across the area, but cautioned that locals shouldn’t expect any accumulation of the white powder, even if it did fall.
Icy rain pellets fell for an extended time Friday afternoon and early evening but were replaced by a light flurry of snowflakes around 9:15 p.m. The snow fell steadily for about two hours, until around midnight the skies let loose with a barrage of large flakes that fell thickly and hurriedly and began to pile atop the snow that had fallen earlier and had not melted.
By Saturday morning almost the entire community wore a blanket of white, especially those areas sheltered from the wind and those untouched by the rising sun. Slowly, as temperatures rose, children appeared on lawns and open fields across the community to take advantage of the weather phenomenon.
“We don’t see this very often,” agreed Armeshia Riley as her daughters, Madison (4) and Zarianna (6) flung snowballs at each other in the yard of their home in southwest Atmore. “This is their first real snow. The last time it iced over, they were young and they don’t remember, so this is their first time getting to come outside and play in it.”
Riley expressed around 9 a.m. the thoughts shared by numerous locals when she said, “I wish it would snow some more, but it’s supposed to be sunny all day, so this will be gone in a little while.”
She was right. Although some rooftops and some shaded areas held onto their snowy mantle until Sunday, the majority of the snow had seeped into the ground as water by Saturday afternoon.
Another positive aspect of the wintry precipitation mix was that even as it piled up in yards and along the edges of roadways, hardly any accumulated on Atmore’s streets. Escambia County sheriff’s deputies did respond to “several” vehicle accidents, all of them minor, on various ice-slick county roads.
About 20 miles away from Atmore, a 73-year-old Pensacola, Fla. woman was killed when she lost control of the car she was driving after it hit a patch of ice along U.S. 29, near McDavid Volunteer Fire Department, slid into a ditch and struck a tree.
“We were fortunate,” said Atmore Police Chief Chuck Brooks. “None of the sleet or snow stuck to the streets, or we could have had a real mess on our hands.”
The lingering weather system reportedly dropped more than 10 inches on areas of Randolph and Calhoun counties as it moved eastward into Georgia, and several areas across the state, including Mobile, recorded new accumulation records.
The appearance of snow in Lower Alabama is rare enough, but the appearance of snow in Lower Alabama before Christmas is almost unheard of.
However, although it didn’t reach as far as Escambia County, one of the state’s widest-reaching snow events occurred on Christmas Day 2010. According to the Weather Channel, nearly all of northern and central Alabama were buried under several inches of snow on “White Christmas,” but the winter spectacle reached only as far south as Evergreen, where trace amounts were recorded.