Inga was bad, but not that bad

Published 12:18 pm Thursday, January 18, 2018

Winter Storm Inga’s trip through the Valley early Wednesday morning was more intense than expected. More than three inches of snow fell across the Chambers-Troup-Harris county areas. Many of us were expecting more of a light dusting. Three inches was a good bit more than that.

How does Inga compare with previous winter storms we’ve had here in east central Alabama and west central Georgia?

Three inches in one day is more than what the local area gets in most winter seasons, but it pales in comparison to what’s been seen in the past.

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Not that long ago, on Jan. 3, 2002, some four-and-half inches fell across the  Valley. The snow was followed by very cold temperatures, leaving snow and ice on the ground for a couple of days.

Another bad winter storm dumped a lot of snow on the Valley on Jan. 13-15, 1982. It snowed one day, got extremely cold the next day and snowed a second time on the third day. The entire Southeastern U.S. was affected, with some weather-reporting stations receiving more than five inches of snow the first day and five more the third day. More than 100 people died due to the lingering, extremely cold weather. Most of them were elderly people in poorly heated homes.

The Valley got its share of snow in what meteorologists now call the Great Southeastern Snowstorm of Feb. 9-11, 1973. This storm dropped one to two feet of snow across a region that typically sees no more than one or two inches per year. All-time record snowfalls were recorded in Macon, Ga., 18.5 inches; Darlington, S.C., 18 inches; and Remini, S.C., 24 inches.

It started snowing locally around midday on a Friday. In parts of Chambers County, there was still a considerable amount of snow on the ground  the next Tuesday.

The two epic storms that affected the local area were the Blizzard of 1899 and the Winter Storm of the Century on March 13, 1993.

The Blizzard of 1899 started the day before Valentine’s Day. It snowed nonstop for 51 hours in Washington, D.C., and as far south as New Orleans. Mardi Gras revelers were snowbound in the Big Easy. A reading of minus five was recorded in West Point, Ga. It was minus 17 in Valley Head, Ala.

The 1993 Storm of the Century was noted for its massive intensity, tremendous size and wide-ranging effects. At its peak, it extended from Central America to northern Canada. Birmingham received 13 inches of snow that day. An estimated four inches fell across the Florida Panhandle.

What’s most memorable for the local experience of the 1993 storm is that snow was in the forecast for the next day, which was a Saturday. Skeptics were thinking that the weatherman had really blown it when it was raining when they went to bed Friday night. They gained a new-found respect for him the next day when they woke up and five inches of snow were on the ground.