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One for the record books

There have other White Christmases on record, but none to the magnitude of what fell from the sky here Saturday night and most all of Sunday.

Just as Hurricane Floyd set the standard as far as moisture was concerned from a tropical system, the Christmas weekend storm of 2010 will perhaps stand as the most snowfall to cover the ground in northeastern North Carolina. As of late Sunday afternoon, a foot was on the ground at my house just south of Ahoskie and light snow was continuing to fall.

While it was a sight to behold as Mother Nature produced fluffy white flakes from the heavens, it paralyzed our little corner of the world. It’s not like we haven’t experienced snowfall in the past…we’ve seen some doozies over the years, but being a southern state means we’re just not equipped to handle snow of this magnitude.

My hat is off to our local DOT office, they made the best of a tough situation…moving mountains of snow from every road in the region takes a Herculean effort. That work will surely be compounded once the snow removed from the local roadways and re-freezes, especially with temperatures expected to dip into the teens early this week.

Ditto for all the emergency responders working our four counties during this major weather event. Driving cautiously in an effort not to endanger their lives as well as the lives of other motorists who dared to venture out on Sunday, police, fire and EMS personnel did a wonderful job in answering each and every call. I listened to your efforts while monitoring the police scanner and each of you were able to overcome the snow-laden obstacle course and reach your destination to assist those in need.

What made this winter storm stand apart from others was the timing of its arrival. Many area weather experts, some by the early part of last week, were predicting a major snowstorm along the East Coast over the Christmas holiday weekend. As usual in making such long-range predictions, their guesstimate snowfall totals were all over the board – some saying 1-to-3 inches for the Roanoke-Chowan area while others were bolder in their forecast, saying we could see eight inches or above.

As we all know by now, we were buried under at least a foot of the white stuff. It came at a good time for some as they were enjoying an extra long holiday weekend. Additionally, local kids were on their Christmas-New Year break, meaning there was no school scheduled.

Still it was unique for this particular storm to time its arrival at what is the most wonderful time of the year.

I cannot recall a White Christmas of this epic proportion. WAVY-TV 10 reported that this was the third largest snowstorm to hit Norfolk, Va. since record-keeping there began back in the late 1800’s.

We’ve also had other big snows for our region in the past. I recall one in 1980 while living in Tarboro (working for the newspaper there). That one also measured around one foot of the white stuff.

There was one back in the mid-70’s. I was still living with my parents at that time. My dad sat on the trunk of my MG Midget so there would be enough traction for me to get out of the driveway. After that, I drove 20 miles to Ahoskie (down backroads and NC 11 to US 13) without stopping, even at stop signs or traffic lights. I did slow down enough to look to make sure no one was coming, but I feared if I came to a complete halt that my little car would just sit there and spin. I made it to work and back home without incident.

Now we have a new winter storm, one that arrived on the heels of Santa’s annual visit, to talk about for years to come.

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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