While the bulk of Cullowhee and Western Carolina University escaped winter weather last week, a northwest flow of cold air on Wednesday, Jan. 7 produced snow in the Cashiers area of Jackson County and other towns above 3500 feet in elevation.
According to the Cashiers Area Weather Center, 2.50 inches of snow fell in southern Jackson County, while Tuckasegee and Cullowhee saw a trace and the Balsam area of northern Jackson County received 1.50 inches.
The winter weather caused numerous accidents in the county, including a three car collision on Highway 107 South between Sylva and Cashiers around 6:30pm on Wednesday night. An SUV traveling toward Glenville slid on ice outside of Tuckasegee and hit an embankment while going down a hill to flip on its top and collide with a truck and an ambulance at the bottom of the hill. The ambulance was in transit to another accident at the time.
No serious injuries were reported at the scene.
Blue Ridge School dismissed school early on Jan. 7 because of the snow and was closed on Thursday, Jan. 8. The Smoky Mountain District of the Jackson County Public School system operated on a B Schedule on Jan. 8.
The snow and ice last week followed a 48 hour rain event that brought two to three inches of rain to the county and winds in excess of 40mph. More than 4,153 Duke Energy customers across Western North Carolina were without power at the height of the storm, including 115 in Jackson County, according to Duke Energy Business Relations Manager, Fred Alexander.
Despite the rain last week and above-normal precipitation in December though, WNC remains in a drought. The severity of the drought, however, is improving, National Weather Service meteorologist Justin Lane said.
“Things have already improved dramatically across the mountains from where they were over the summer,” Lane said. “Certainly, every little bit helps, but as far as being able to say we’re going to be out of the drought after this rainfall, it’s probably not going to happen.
“We’re going to have to see several months of really above-normal rainfall before we can really declare that it’s over.”