Published in Asheville Tribune and Weavervillle Tribune January, 2017
By Heather Berry
Buncombe County – A massive winter storm passed through the area, causing chaos throughout the county. Aside from closing down the schools, Buncombe County Government also closed at 10 a.m., as heavy snow began to fall throughout the region.
According to the Weaverville Police Department’s Administrative Assistant Kim Buckner, “Believe it or not, we only had two accidents. One was on US-25 and one had to be transported to the hospital. The other accident involved four vehicles on Hamburg Mountain Road. That was the only thing we had. One with two cars and the other with four cars.”
Weaverville Police also took it a step further by preemptively
ensuring that people would be safe during the storm. Via their “NEXTDOOR” social media page, which the police department uses to keep town residents updated with police activities, the department made a post about helping disabled and elderly neighbors with shoveling snow.
In addition, Weaverville Police Chief Greg Stephens stated that “Kim Buckner, [Weaverville Police] administrative assistant, made several calls to some of our senior citizens well in advance of the storm to make sure everyone had food, heat and shelter.
Meanwhile in Woodfin, “We only investigated two crashes during that time period. We had a couple of stranded motorists and abandoned vehicles. I think we did pretty good,” said Woodfin Police Lieutenant Mike Dykes. Woodfin Fire Department averaged 6 to 10 calls throughout the storm. The first night of the storm,
Woodfin Firefighter Chris Dorsey noted that of the eight calls they had, six of them were cancelled en route. The two remaining, both of which were traffic accidents on future I-26, he said, were minor.
According to the National Weather Service, on Jan. 22, the day the storm began, a record-setting 13.4 inches of snow fell in Asheville, leaving behind a snow depth of 6 inches. By Jan. 24,n the NWS reported 10 inches of snow in Asheville.
Dr. Christopher Hennon, chair of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at UNC-Asheville, shared additional data that was collected from the storm. “Mt. Mitchell reported 66 inches of snow. The highest totals in populated areas in Buncombe County were in the southwestern portion, where up to 14 inches fell. The far northern parts of the county generally reported 4-6 inches.” He continued, “It seemed that the snow accumulations increased the closer you were to Asheville. The extreme northwestern part of Buncombe County (just south of Sandy Mush) received about 14 inches of snow.”
Hennon added that snows like this are not exactly common. “Not annually, but big snows are not too rare for Asheville. Every 5 years, on average, Asheville can expect a snowfall of at least 9 inches. Every 10 years on average, Asheville will get a snowfall event of at least 11.5 inches. The airport measured about 14” for this past storm, so it was definitely a big one that will not come around too often.”