Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas? Not here

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Is it beginning to look a lot like Christmas? Not here

BY SCOTT DANCE<br>THE BEAUFORT GAZETTE
Published Sunday, December 24, 2006 in The Island Packet  |  638 Words  |  /IslandPacket/news/local

On the corner of Bay and West streets in downtown Beaufort, a physics-defying snowman holds a thermometer that reads 70 degrees and poses the hypothetical consideration, "If it Snowed in Beaufort."'
It's clearly been a while since Beaufort County has seen a white Christmas -- 17 years, in fact.'
The snowman, part of a display by Beaufort Elementary School students at Lipsitz Department Store, is a rare sight in the Lowcountry. But when the city of Beaufort was blanketed with 6 inches of snow on Christmas Eve 1989, snowmen across the city commemorated Beaufort's first and only white Christmas.'
"I remember people speculating as a joke, discussing what kind of spring we'd have," said Dennis Adams, information services coordinator for Beaufort County.'
The city was at a standstill, Adams said, the Bay Street strip appearing as simple and quiet as it must have in its pre-Civil War state. The streets were covered and went unshoveled because nobody was prepared, he said, and residents were advised to just stay put if possible.'
Beaufort County spokeswoman Suzanne Larson recalled just relaxing inside, staying warm.'
"I remember I had just finished doing all my Christmas shopping and it was wonderful -- I didn't have to worry about going out in it," she said.'
But others were more eager to get out and experience what may have been their first Lowcountry snow. Adams set out on foot with his brother to explore, and while he did see bona fide "Northern snowmen" -- perfectly sized and white, unlike the muddy variety that are usually scraped together when it snows in the South -- there wasn't much sledding happening, probably due to a lack of sleds and hills, he said.'
Adams also recalled seeing cars sliding on the Richard V. Woods Memorial Bridge to Lady's Island, many of them giving up halfway.'
Beaufort Police Chief Jeff Dowling said that because there were so many fender-benders and officers had so much trouble getting around, drivers were advised to just move their cars to safety and report the accident the next day. Dowling was a captain then, in charge of the department's patrol division.'
Edward Allen, director of the county's EMS, said even an ambulance was involved in an accident when a car slid through a traffic light on Boundary Street. The state highway department's vehicles weren't equipped for snow removal, he said, and only had sand to scatter for traction.'
Never has more snow fallen in South Carolina in December than that winter, when 14.5 inches were recorded in Loris, north of Myrtle Beach. But the 6 inches that stand as the record for the Beaufort station of the South Carolina Climatology Office is from a storm in 1973.'
It has snowed in five out of '
53 years in the office's records, giving the area a 9 percent chance of snowfall. Beaufort County, in fact, has the smallest chance of snowfall in the state; every other county, except a tiny portion of Jasper County, has at least a 10 percent chance every year.'
Beaufort County Public Works still doesn't have a sand spreader or other snow-handling equipment because it's not cost-effective, Larson said. Snow usually melts by noon, and sand can be distributed with dump trucks, she said.'
According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, cold temperatures are expected leading up to Christmas, with rain and snow called for between Monday and Dec. 29 in the Southeast region that includes the Carolinas and Georgia.'
But a white Christmas is, of course, unlikely this year. It's barely expected to dip below 50 degrees tonight for a typically mild Beaufort Christmas.'
"It's not too often you see a white Christmas in Beaufort," Allen said.