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January 16, 2013

Surprise! It's snow!

GREENVILLE — The winter season’s second snowstorm caught a lot of people by surprise Tuesday morning.

There was no mention of snow in the forecast as of late Monday and no one expected the amount of snow which did accumulate in a relatively short time.

Area school districts opened on time, despite the falling snow, and roads and highways across Hunt County quickly turned into ice rinks, catching motorists unaware and causing scores of accidents.

While much of the snow had melted as of Tuesday evening, fears that the runoff would refreeze overnight and create additional problems had many school districts delaying the opening of campuses this morning.

The National Weather Service indicated that Greenville officially received two inches of snow Tuesday, although some locations reported receiving up to four inches.

As of Monday night, forecasts were calling only for a slight chance of sleet in the area Tuesday morning. However, light snow began falling at Majors Field Municipal Airport shortly before 6 a.m. Tuesday, then began falling heavily about an hour later.

 The snow was part of a thunderstorm at around 7:15 a.m. and a mix of snow and freezing drizzle continued until just after 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Greenville Independent School District Superintendent Don Jefferies issued a statement Tuesday, noting the district was caught by surprise by the intensity of the snowstorm.

“At 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, GISD staff drove local roads to check conditions and drivability,” Jefferies said. “Based upon weather updates and clear road conditions at that time, buses were deployed at 5:45 a.m. At that point, it looked like the weather problems were only going to be West and South of us. Obviously, this turned out to be incorrect. When the winter weather began at 7 a.m., GISD buses had already begun completing their routes and students were under GISD care. At that time, it was too late to issue a delayed start. Our neighboring school districts faced the same challenges and did not delay or cancel school either.”

Portions of Interstate 30 through Greenville were closed at various times during the day, as 18-wheelers jackknifed on the frozen road and other accidents tied up one or more lanes of traffic.

There were multiple accidents on local streets, including one involving a Greenville ISD bus which was turning into the Watergate Apartments Tuesday morning and was clipped from behind by a car. No injuries were reported and the damage was minor.

The snow thawed rapidly as temperatures rose well above freezing.

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Area Engineer Tammy Sims said the highways in Hunt County had cleared as of Tuesday afternoon as of right now, but there were worries of a refreeze overnight as temperatures dipped back into the 20s.

TxDOT crews were to be on standby overnight and the public can call in problems they experience to the local office at 903-455-2363.

Including the snowstorm on Christmas Day, Greenville has now officially received six inches of snow this winter, still well short of the winter of 2009/2010, which saw six snowfall events between Christmas Eve and the first day of spring, including nine inches on Feb. 11-12, 2010.

No snow and no precipitation of any kind is in the forecast for the next few days, which are expected to see a slow warming trend into the weekend.

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