Lowcountry weather report calls for snow (not really ... sorry)

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Lowcountry weather report calls for snow (not really ... sorry)

By PATRICK DONOHUE
pdonohue@beaufortgazette.com
Published Thursday, January 31, 2013   |  784 Words  |  

It was February 2010. The forecasts were calling for snow, but I was skeptical.

I was working then as our newspaper's police and military reporter in Beaufort and was assigned to cover this impending snow-pocalypse. Or blizzar-maggedon. I had a few nicknames worked out.

I listened with incredulity as a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Charleston, someone I was assured had attended college before becoming a publicly paid prognosticator, told me how it was all going to go down. It would start raining, and then it would start snowing, coating the area with anywhere from 1 to 4 inches overnight.

"That rain will eventually turn to snow and ... in Beaufort County, there could be an inch or so near the beaches and as much as 4 inches farther inland," I quoted the meteorologist.

"Yeah, OK," I thought.

Look, I'm no weather expert, but I did possess the ability to do two things that apparently these guys did not -- I could read a map and read a thermometer. Not to mention, it was like 40 to 50 degrees that afternoon and the temperature would have to dip below 32 degrees
before this rain they were calling for would freeze as it fell from the sky.

Despite my skepticism, the world around me was going crazy at the mere thought of palmettos -- and, more dangerously, roads -- blanketed with snow.

Travel alerts were sent out by various state agencies, Beaufort County and Jasper County school districts canceled all after-school activities, the University of South Carolina Beaufort canceled evening classes and a number of high school basketball games and the Class 3-A wrestling championship, which featured a team from Hilton Head Island High School, were postponed.

I still wasn't buying it.

I fully expected to call the National Weather Service the next day and smugly ask them what happened to the snow they were so convinced we were getting.

Hours went by, and then a funny thing happened: It started raining. Then, the rain turned to snow.

Large snowflakes, the kind you see in the movies, slowly fell from the sky.

I grew up in Western New York, a beautiful but somewhat unforgiving landscape where lake effect snow is fair game anytime between Halloween and Easter, but there was something mesmerizing about it snowing in a place it rarely does. There was something familiar and comforting about the sight of it.

Twitter and Facebook soon were inundated with pictures of snow-covered cars. Firefighters from the Burton Fire District assembled a small snowman outside their station on Parris Island Gateway.

I had been bested by people who regularly say, and without a hint of irony, that there is a 50 percent chance of rain.

Yet, as I held out my hand and felt the snow fall on my fingertips, I had never been so pleased to be wrong in all my life.

The snow melted almost as suddenly as it came, it is a night that I, and I'm guessing many of you, won't soon forget.

This week, in honor of the frigid weather that seems to rarely blow our way, a playlist comprising songs about the cold, snow and ice.

Sometimes, meteorologists know what they're talking about.

But only sometimes.

* The Oh Hellos, "Cold Is the Night" -- Some songs just feel like winter, and this is one of them.

  • Cat Stevens, "The Wind" -- Not sure a song like this could be popular if released today, so I'm grateful it wasn't.
  • Matt Pond PA, "Snow Day" -- If you grew up without experiencing the incomparable bliss of a snow day, I truly feel bad for you.
  • * The Head and The Heart, "Winter Song" -- Just a very, very pretty song.

  • Fleet Foxes, "White Winter Hymnal" -- I wouldn't change a note of this song.
  • The White Stripes, "In the Cold, Cold Night" -- Winter can be a lonely time. This song is a reminder.
  • Maps & Atlases, "Winter" -- The kind of song you want to have a snowball fight to.
  • Explosions in the Sky, "Snow and Lights" -- The most rocking song with sleigh bells I've heard in a while.