Snow blankets cityPublished 9:00am Thursday, January 13, 2011
The National Weather Service in Huntsville reported an accumulation of 8.9 inches of snow at the airport, the third largest on record. The record is 17 inches, which fell on New Year’s Day in 1963 and the runner-up is 9.6 inches, which fell on Jan. 7, 1988.
Most of the snow, which began falling at 7 p.m. Sunday, remained on the ground Tuesday and was expected to stay until the weekend due to prevailing sub-freezing temperatures. An exception was heavily traveled highways and streets where local, county and state maintenance crews were able to keep traffic moving even though at times it was at a snail’s pace.
“We had a crew ready to go when the snow started falling,” said Byron Turney, Hartselle Public Works superintendent. “We used two trucks equipped with sand spreaders to put down sand in places where we usually have problems –-steep hills, bridges, Dead Man’s Curve, intersections and streets adjacent to the police department, fire stations and hospital.”
He estimated that 35 to 40 tons of sand had been put down by mid-morning Monday. Later in the day a road grader was used to push snow off Main, Sparkman and Railroad Streets.
The streets were too bad to operate the garbage pickup trucks,” he said. “We’ll be doubling up routes later in the week and will probably run on Saturday.”
“This is only the third or fourth time in my lifetime that we’ve had this much snow on the ground,” Turney said. “The last time was the blizzard in March 1993 when we had drifts of two to four feet.”
Eddie Hicks, director of the Morgan County Emergency Management Agency, said his staff was on duty to monitor the winter storm and offer assistance if needed.
“We had an emergency shelter set up at the civic center in Hartselle but it was never needed,” he said. “We also were on standby to provide emergency transportation for people needing to get to their jobs in the medical field.”
“We’re thankful that the freezing rain and sleet missed us,” he added. “It could’ve been much worse. “But sub-freezing temperatures are projected to remain and that could cause trouble later in the week.”
Hartselle Utilities came through the snow event in good shape, according to General Manager Ferrell Vest.
“We’re doing fine,” he stated early Monday. “All systems are holding up and although we had people on duty just in case they were needed, we didn’t have an electrical outage during the snow.
“Our concern is if ice comes in behind the snow, causing a buildup on trees and power lines.”