Cold, wet winter comes to an end in Thermal Belt

Published 7:10 pm Friday, March 19, 2010

For many residents in the Thermal Belt, this Sunday, the official first day of spring, could not come soon enough.
The winter of 2009-2010 will go down as an unusually harsh one after it delivered long stretches of freezing temperatures and relatively heavy snowfall.
The area received more than a foot of snow this winter, according to observations for the National Weather Service at the water plant in Tryon. The plant recorded 12.5 inches of snow over several winter storms beginning in December and continuing into early March.
Snow totals were higher in many areas outside Tryon, particularly at higher elevations to the north and west.
Saluda was particularly hard hit on a few occasions, receiving about a foot of snow in some areas from just one storm and heavy ice in another. The Tryon water plant recorded 3.1 inches of snow and ice in December, 7 inches in January and 2.4 inches in February.
Nearly every month this winter brought above average precipitation with 7.35 inches in November, 9.77 inches in December, 7.87 inches in January and 4.4 inches in February. Only February’s precipitation was below average.
Over the past four months, the area was nearly nine inches of precipitation above normal.
Low temperatures didn’t dip below freezing until December 6, but returned to 32 or colder numerous times over the rest of the winter.
There were 15 days in December and 21 days in January with low temperatures at or below freezing. Low temperatures dropped below 20 degrees on six days in January, and the cold weather persisted into late February.
Much of the snow that fell in the first winter storm of the season on December 18 was still on the ground a week later, giving the area a rare white Christmas.
Snow stayed on the ground, particularly in north-facing shaded areas, through much of the winter as additional storms came in January, including the biggest of the season on January 30.
Tryon water plant supervisor Betty Jones says it’s been a long time since the area had a winter with as much snow and cold weather as this one.
“I’m ready for spring. I think everybody is,” she says.

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