When the snowflakes started falling across wide stretches of the midstate Friday afternoon, the sky looked like something out of one of those old movies with cheap special effects.
The thick, chunky flakes appeared almost too real, too perfect. They were enchanting nonetheless, fluttering like wind-blown cherry-blossom petals come early.
At about 3 p.m., the snow wasn’t yet sticking in most spots, which was fine with some folks.
Charlie Harris, manager of the Ham’s Napa Auto Parts store in Roberta, said, “I spent three in Germany and 13 months in Korea, and that’s all the snow I wanted to see the rest of my life. That was plenty.”
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Harris, who said he doesn’t stock snow chains for cars, added, “It’s some pretty big flakes, though. If it starts sticking, people will probably go crazy.”
The midstate’s own version of a winter-Olympics opening ceremony cruised in on a stream of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and a chill from up north.
National Weather Service forecaster Mike Leary said, “Cold air doesn’t hold moisture so well, so what we have is a warm flow coming up off the Gulf, and it’s meeting the cold air coming down on the high-pressure center. The perfect combination for snow. Even the Florida Panhandle’s getting snow.”
The forecast called for the snow to taper off early today with snow accumulations of anywhere from 1 to 3 inches possible in parts of Middle Georgia.
Friday’s high temperature in the midstate was in the mid- to upper 30s, but by 4 p.m. the mercury had dipped to 32 degrees, on its way to a forecast low in the mid-20s.
As the evening progressed, lawns, tree limbs and rooftop were dusted with white stuff and, in spots, roads were slushy, though no serious accidents had been reported.
Several area employers sent workers home early, including Robins Air Force Base. Most schools were already closed for the day, having canceled classes in advance of the wintry weather.
As night began to fall, snow-related automobile accidents were not uncommon across the midstate. Several cars had slid off the roadway, many into the ditch.
There were three wrecks in Macon and six in Bibb County as of 5:30 p.m., as well as a report of downed utility lines near Tucker Road. Jones County sheriff’s officials were dealing with 10 wrecks while at the same time, Peach County officials were working on seven wrecks. There were at least a handful of wrecks in Monroe County.
In Macon, as the flakes began falling heavily on Orange Street Friday afternoon, 2-year-old Lily Hayes just had to get outside. She twirled and giggled from inside a hooded pink-and-purple jacket.
Her father got a jump-start on the snow-gazing early Friday morning when he was working in west Georgia.“Coming back from Columbus, I was just watching the snow,” Andrew Hayes said. “You could see it moving right across the state.”
Snowflakes were coming down on William Hutchins and Torrance Moss as they walked down Poplar Street.“I’m enjoying it. It reminds me of Chicago,” said Hutchins, who is from the Windy City.
“I’m going home and eating some soup,” Moss said as they rounded the corner onto Third Street.
Flakes were just beginning to stick on Coleman Hill when Mercer University law student Hayley Strong took her dog Zuzu for a stroll before heading indoors to do homework.
“It’s cold,” said Strong, who is from Savannah, adding that if enough snow piles up, she’ll ditch the books for a while today.
“I’m sure it will be nice if it snowed a lot,” she said from under a green umbrella.
As soon as a layer of soft snow gathered atop cars in Fort Hill, 9-year-old Shamani Grimes started a snowball fight.
“If it sticks together good, I’m going to make a snowman,” she said while snapping photos on Maynard Street.
Across the road, Adie Robinson was walking to a nearby store with T’leyiah Jackson.
“Oh, this is beautiful. Real beautiful, I love it,” Robinson said as he helped Jackson across the street.For florists, the snow’s arrival in the midst of the Valentine’s Day weekend frenzy created plenty of challenges.
“We’re hanging in there,” said Debra Hopkins, who has worked at Jean and Hall Florists in downtown Macon for 30 years. “We’re just keeping a positive attitude.”
Six of the company’s delivery trucks were running Friday, and the shop was still taking orders.
Members of the Ja-Da quartet, part of Sweet Adelines International, went about their rounds, singing Valentine’s favorites across the midstate.
The prospect of snow didn’t slow them down, said Wanda Burquest, a member of the group, as they headed to another appointment.
Their trips took them to Warner Robins and Macon — 11 stops in all — where they sang songs including “It Had to Be You” and “Indeed I Do” in four-part harmony.
Katherine Joyce, manager of Papa John’s Pizza on North Avenue in Macon, said deliveries soared at lunchtime Friday.
The store more than doubled its lunch-hour business Friday as some customers waited an hour and a half or more for pies to be delivered, Joyce said. “We’re just telling (delivery drivers) to be careful.”
Georgia Power had crews at the ready Friday even though fewer than 100 customers statewide were without power during the afternoon.
“They’re ready to go where they’re needed,” spokeswoman Lynn Wallace said. “We’re watching the weather just like everybody else.”
While “dry snow” typically doesn’t cause problems, an accumulation of “wet snow” can weigh down tree branches, causing them to crash onto power lines, Wallace said.
Telegraph staff writers Amy Leigh Womack, Angela Woolen, Phillip Ramati, Oby Brown and Rodney Manley contributed to this report.