Dixie dusting: Gwinnett sees snow for fourth time this season

Photo by Jason Braverman

Photo by Jason Braverman

LAWRENCEVILLE -- With the first day of spring just a little more than two weeks away, Gen. Beauregard Lee's Groundhog Day prediction has turned out to be inaccurate.

Gwinnett's resident weather prognosticator was likely holed up in his Tara-esque mansion at the Yellow River Game Ranch on Tuesday as between two and three inches of snow fell over parts of northeast Georgia, including Gwinnett. Small, thin patches of snow accumulated on some grassy areas throughout the county, but above freezing temperatures limited that accumulation.

Tuesday's wintry weather contradicted the early spring Beau predicted when he failed to see his shadow Feb. 2 and was the fourth "measurable snowfall" in the metro Atlanta area this season, according to the National Weather Service. The area generally sees one to two measurable snowfalls each year.

Sabina Harvis scoffed a little at the idea of only four measurable snowfalls in a winter season.

"I'm from Boston so over there, snow is really high," the Lawrenceville resident said. "Here, if it snows a little bit they close the schools and everything else."

"It doesn't bother me at all," Lawrenceville resident Randy Kennedy said of the increase in winter weather. "Whatever comes is what we have to take and that's the way I look at it. It is what it is."

The snowfall Tuesday did prompt Georgia Gwinnett College to close at 2 p.m., while the University of Georgia's Gwinnett campus canceled evening classes and activities. Gwinnett County Public Schools remained in session Tuesday. GCPS spokesman Jorge Quintana said a decision whether to close schools today would be made after staff tested the roads this morning, but two basketball games scheduled for Tuesday were postponed until today. Wesleyan also postponed its boys game. Gwinnett County Public Schools also elected to postpone its middle school basketball championship games until Thursday.

The unusual increase in winter weather, coupled with flooding in September, has cost the Georgia Department of Transportation about $5 million statewide, money that was taken from funding for road maintenance, which is budgeted at about $300 million under an overall annual budget of $1.9 billion. While the DOT previously set aside money for emergency work and repairs, that's no longer the case. On Monday, the DOT commissioner asked the state legislature to dedicate an emergency fund for the department.

In the northeast Georgia DOT district, which includes Gwinnett, $1.1 million had already been spent battling winter weather before Tuesday's snowfall. This past fiscal year, $520,520 was spent combating the effects of winter weather on roadways.