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Storm brings little snow, lots of cold

Features Editor

With a winter storm approaching, many Pike Countians went to bed New Year’s night with visions of snowflakes dancing in their head.

However, when the storm came through Central Alabama on Wednesday, Pike County only got a dusting of the white stuff in the early morning hours.

"I can count on this hand, on these three fingers, the number of times it has snowed in Troy," a bundled-up Scheer Qualls said as he raised a gloved hand. It was about 7 a.m. Wednesday, and Qualls had watched the morning snow flurries change to sleet as he walked his dogs in Country Club Estates. "If it stays like this, we won’t have any problems; but if it turns to ice or keeps snowing … it’ll shut us down."

That comment echoed through the streets on Wednesday, as residents anxiously waited to see the winter storm warnings would bring.

Most of Wednesday saw light, freezing rain in Troy. Local Weather forecasts had predicted up to 3 inches in accumulation, but local weather observers recorded only about .4 inches of snow by 4 p.m. Wednesday.

But by 5:30

p.m. Wednesday, the snow was falling again and forecasters predicted an accumulation of up to 1 inch overnight. Pike County remains under a winter weather advisory through the morning hours today; rain, sleet and snow remain in the forecast. Driving conditions could be dangerous, but no accumulation of snow is expected today as temperatures hover in the mid 40s.

The lack of snow and ice brought relief to some and disappointment to others on Wednesday.

Kids had hoped to build snowmen, or at least pelt each other with snowballs, and many bread-winners had hoped to be sent home early from work. But, they all had to settle for wet feet, cold noses and dreams of what might have been.

And employees at many businesses scurried to keep up with the demand of residents in search of everything from bread and batteries to propane.

Debra Arthur, office manager of Amerigas, said the company’s employees were running "wide open."

"Any time snow is predicted everybody starts calling," she said. "No matter whether they’re down 50 percent or 10 percent, they want gas. Around here, we aren’t accustomed to snow and people freak out. They’re afraid the trucks won’t be able to get on the road, and they’ll be without gas. We have been overwhelmed."

Arthur said Wednesday morning the Troy office had handled about 50 calls compared to the usual 20 or less at this time of year.

"We don’t add extra help though; we go with who we have," she said. "We just come in early, don’t take lunch and stay late – whatever we have to do to get gas to our customers."

An unexpected chill came over the residents on the north side of Troy, brought on by a power outage.

Donna Hogan said the outage came about 7 a.m. bringing a chill to delicate plants housed in the greenhouse at Maxine Flowers on South Three Notch Street.

"We closed at 11 o’clock because it was so cold in here," Hogan said. "But about 1 o’clock we started bringing the plants in from the greenhouse to the building, so maybe we won’t lose them. It’s a little warmer in here than it is in the greenhouse. We’re hoping the power comes back on soon."

As some people rushed out to get gas and others rushed out to rush in their plants, some people just rushed out to get entertainment for a cold, winter’s night.

Valerie Poole, manager of Movie Gallery, said business had been hot on a cold morning.

"I don’t think I’ve seen this many people in this early in the day," she said. "We had about 15 cars here when I got here this morning and, in an hour, we had rented 120 movies and games. The weather was the reason. When it’s raining and cold, people just seem to want to get in and stay in – and, too, some people were still thinking that we would get snow during the day."

Jake and Zack Johnston and their cousin, Adam Johnston, were in the video store getting movies to watch since they weren’t going sledding after all.

"We went out in the snow and tried to throw a few snowballs early this morning,

but then the snow sorta disappeared," Jake said. "But, I really don’t care because I’m going to Colorado tomorrow and I’ll see plenty of snow."

Adam wasn’t as nonchalant about the no-snow, but he was happy about the cold weather because it just might improve his chances of harvesting a deer.

What the winter storm didn’t bring was snow and freezing, bundle-up and burrrrr weather, but it bring a cloudy day that caused people to shiver and hurry home to the fireside at night.

While most Pike Countians braved the "winter storm" with nothing more than a light jacket and cap, Maurice Owen of Ontario stopped for gas in Troy and found the weather chilling to the bone.

"This is cold," he said as he snapped his jacket tightly around his neck. "Real cold, even for us Canadians. We drove all the way down without getting in any snow until we reached Montgomery. That’s odd isn’t it?"

Stacy Graning contributed to this report.