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The big thaw: Today's sun will melt snowfall
0303snow22
A group of kids builds a snowman Tuesday afternoon along Hubert Stephens Road in the North Hall area. Rolling the large snowball are, from left, Mattie Bohanan, Katelynn Poole, Savannah Brooks and Nathan Harwood.
March Madness: More winter weather coverage, including photos, video and articles about Tuesday's icy road conditions and weather costs piling up for DOT

They say history repeats itself.

On March 3, 1960, Hall County was battling the snow and sleet left behind from a late winter storm.

Fast forward 50 years, and we once again find ourselves among inches of melting snow, a phenomenon that’s much more common in March than many may think.

In the Atlanta area, it snows in March an average of one in every four years, said David Stooksbury, the state climatologist at the University of Georgia.

“Big snows in March are not all that unusual,” Stooksbury said.

Snow began shortly after dawn Tuesday and continued steadily into the late afternoon. The weather conditions kept emergency officials on the lookout for hazardous situations and road crews shoveling and salting roads all day and night.

An estimated 2 to 3 inches of snow accumulated in the Gainesville area Tuesday, and icy patches started to form on North Georgia’s roads as temperatures dropped.

The winter weather caused a reported 28 wrecks Hall County, but 17 were in the morning, officials said.

Snow commonly accompanies the wet conditions associated with the weather pattern known as El Niño during the winter.

“You can blame it all on El Niño,” Stooksbury said. “Typically under El Niño conditions in the South we have colder than normal conditions and wetter than normal conditions. ... At many locations in the South, we see the biggest seasonal snows have occurred during El Niño winters, so this is not a surprise.”

Georgia has seen a number of March snow storms over the years.

Stooksbury said the blizzard known as “the storm of the century” happened on March 13, 1993.

More than 8 inches of snow piled on the Athens area on March 24, 1983.

According to The Times archives, there were three snow storms in March 1960.

According to the March 3, 1960, edition of The Times, “Ice and snow measured 5 and 6 inches around most of the city.”

The storms were devastating to farmers in the Gainesville area, and The Times reported that chicken houses containing 135,000 chickens had collapsed as a result of the storm.

Alma Bowen, a former Times Editor, fondly recalls the world looking exactly the same 50 years ago.

“My younger brother, Corky, drove me from Clarkesville to Gainesville to the hospital on Feb. 29, and our oldest son, Reed, was born that evening,” Bowen said.

When she awoke at the hospital on March 1, the ground was covered in snow.

“The snow didn’t come down in flakes, but in something like grits. Newscasters called it hominy snow. The snow stayed for days,” Bowen said.

Iantha Garrett of Clermont vividly remembers that snowy March.

“I was in Athens at the University of Georgia,” Garrett said. “It snowed every week.”

Garrett said she had a car at school and would battle the snow to drive home to see her family and boyfriend on the weekends.

“The thing I always remembered, if my car didn’t move all week, it moved on Friday because I was going to Gainesville,” Garrett said.

Garrett would drive two of her friends to their homes in the North Georgia Mountains on weekends. She remembers the hardship all the snow caused in that area.

“In Hiawassee and Blairsville, it was really bad. They were without power for several weeks,” Garrett said. “Helicopters flew out hay to feed the cattle.”

Garrett said Tuesday’s snow storm brought back many memories from her youth.

“Fifty years, it stirred up something in me,” Garrett said.

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