Bennett Whipple’s Big Canoe Snow Calendar
Edited by Laura Link llink@bigcanoenews
A postcard scene of snow framed Blackwell Creek upstream from the covered bridge. Photo by Randy Lewis
Editor’s Note: Bennett and Nona Whipple moved to Big Canoe in October 1994, but it wasn’t until January 22, 2000 that he became so interested in the weather from his house on Columbine Drive that he began keeping a snow log, with the help of friends on Sanderlin and other parts of the community. He inserted the destructive non-snow event on Nov. 11, 2002 because of the damage done in Big Canoe.
From 2000 to December 2017 there are 26 typed pages filled with minute details, in some cases, of what must be every snow flake that fell. Here are snippets from those 26 pages:
January 22/23, 2000 – Snow storm hits leaving accumulations of one to two inches and considerable ice storm damage.
December 13, 2000 – Freezing rain on Sanderlin, two ladies slide off South Sanderlin hill.
December 21, 2000 - North Gate security was turning away delivery trucks on Friday, Dec. 22 due to generally dangerous roads in Big Canoe. On Saturday the 24, UPS was delivering Christmas packages with a fleet of 4-wheel ATV’s (all-terrain vehicles) to get up some roads and some driveways.
January 1, 2001 – Flurries in the morning, light dusting
March 19/20, 2001 – A mix of wet snow and rain began falling on the evening of March 19 and continued off and on during the morning of March 20 accompanied by high winds – the first day of spring. No accumulation
November 11, 2002 – A destructive storm swept through Big Canoe during the early hours of the morning. The National Weather Service termed it straight-line winds with some tornado action like what hit Tate that morning. Whatever the intensity, it was very destructive, laying hundreds of trees flat in the Willow and Black Gum sections and the village area.
December 4, 2002 – El Nino rains and cold air from Canada mixed to bring us an icing on the trees during the evening hours. Moderating temperatures during the morning hours melted ice and it turned into a non-event.
December 14, 2002 – A light dusting of snow fell during the early morning on Columbine Drive and other areas of similar elevation. It was heavier on Sanderlin Mountain, sticking and freezing on the trees. The icy condition sparkled on the mountaintop for several days afterward.
December 18, 2003 – A mixture of sleet and snow began falling around mid-evening Thursday night. The accumulation was enough for the gates to close for all vehicles except four-wheel drives. Toby Jones [in charge of roads and trails] says he got a call from security at 5 a.m. Friday alerting him to road conditions…. They were on property by 6 a.m. and operated two spreaders, putting out an estimated 50 to 60 tons of gravel and salt mix. Maintenance also operated two snow ploughs, needed to clear roads on Sanderlin Mountain and Falcon Heights. All roads were passable by 1:00 p.m. that day, Toby said.
January 8, 2004 – We had a drizzle that left ice on the trees, but not bad. You can always count on Sanderlin being iced in. At 6:30 this morning it was 29 degrees and the slow overnight drizzle left a thin coating of black ice over all horizontal surfaces. I “de-iced” my driveway about 30 minutes ago and just saw the sand truck go by about 5 minutes ago. We are now back in business, although I didn’t make an 8 a.m. meeting I needed to attend.
December 19, 2004 – Light snow flurries began in the afternoon. Dec 20 temperature at 7 a.m. – 12 degrees.
April 2, 2005 – We’re into April at this writing and we’re thinking spring, so, what do we get? Snow! It flurried most of the morning but no accumulation, thank goodness.
April 24, 2005 – Snow again on Sunday, lasting only for about 15 minutes, but it put on a good show.
January 16, 2008 – Snow began falling shortly after 5 p.m. coming in from the west and creating difficult driving conditions on Ridgeview. The streets below remained wet and passable early on.
December 2, 2008 – Weather people are calling for cloudy skies Tuesday morning and sunshine in the afternoon for Election Day run-offs. That’s good news for both candidates in the senatorial race. Each is looking for large turnouts to carry them across the finish line as a winner.
January 17, 2009 – A mixture of freezing rain and slushy snow moved in late in the afternoon causing ice conditions on roads. Sand spreaders were out that night for cars that couldn’t make it up steep hills.
January 29/30, 2010 – Wintry mix of snow and ice predicted for late afternoon and evening on Friday didn’t happen. Instead, some icing on tree limbs. Icing continued during the day and a light snow fell Sunday morning Jan. 31on top of it. Chapel cancelled.
March 2, 2010 – (we were away on our Caribbean cruise) [one of the biggest snows in Big Canoe] Residents awoke to find a blowing wet snow covering the mountains and roads—the fourth snow this year. By early Tuesday morning there had been four accidents outside the gates on Steve Tate Highway as people tried to drive in the snow and sleet. Late afternoon there was a reported eight inches on the board rail at The Bluffs and 11 inches on South Sanderlin. Carmen Gordon on South Sanderlin Drive put on plastic flip flops and ventured out to make pictures and stick a ruler in the snow for measurement. One of her shoes remains buried in the snow where she lost it.
December 12, 2010 – Kicked off snowy winter with a vengeance this season and we haven’t even reached the Solstice! Temperature here for several days was in the low teens.
December 25, 2010 – Christmas Day Snow! Snow storm predicted for Christmas weekend could bring accumulations of two to four inches. Snow began falling shortly after 10 a.m. on Christmas Day and continued into the evening leaving three inches on the ground. It snowed again the next day leaving another two inches Monday morning. The sub-freezing temperatures continued with 21 degrees this morning.
November 29, 2011 – The season’s first snow began in the morning, giving us an inch or so and 2-3 inches on Sanderlin. No freezing weather or ice conditions, so travel was not affected at this level, but plowing and some problems on Sanderlin.
January 25, 2013 – An emergency shelter has been established at the clubhouse for those unable to get to their homes in these hazardous driving conditions. Public Safety will provide transportation from the Wildcat Recreation parking lot to the clubhouse, but are unable to reach individual residences at this time. Tire chains are ineffective in these icy conditions so Public Safety equipment has limited access to higher elevations
March 25/26, 2013 – A very light snow flurry with nothing sticking or amounting to much most of Monday, but overnight we had an accumulation of about an 1/8 inch with roads frozen. The POA issued a road conditions alert, driving conditions are hazardous above 2,000 feet.
January 28, 2014 – SNOW JAM 2014 “One of the iffiest winter weather predictions in a long time caught Big Canoers off guard as they left the property Tuesday morning, Jan. 28. Now the effort to get them safely back home is in full swing.” Laura Link’s lead para for a four-inch snow fall beginning late morning shut down BC and left Atlanta paralyzed and the subject of ridicule in the national press coverage for not being prepared.
February 20, 2015 – A ground-covering show in subfreezing temperatures came in through the night. It turned to ice with many cars spinning out during the early evening because of the icy curves. One car crashed into the rail above the Kelly’s home [84 Columbine Drive] coming down Killer Curve and ended 100 feet down after skidding into the ditch.
March 3, 2016 – A mostly unpredicted snow storm began about 11 a.m. leaving about three inches on the ground. There were 20 plus cars stranded along Petit all the way up from Swallow Point at least. All were abandoned, so public safety did an awesome job in transporting everybody home. Can’t say enough about the heroic job performed by our public safety guys. I’m told cars were abandoned all over Big Canoe, nut just on Petit. I’m told cars were abandoned all over Big Canoe, not just on Petit.
January 6/7, 2017 – It began Friday, as predicted, with a light sleet at about 3:00 in the afternoon. Then along about 8:00 in the evening it began snowing which lasted overnight, leaving about four or more inches on the ground. A wedding rehearsal at The Big Canoe Chapel made it but the wedding had to be canceled.
December 8/9, 2017 – This one slipped in on us after hearing only light snow predictions. Before it was over, we had eight inches measured on top of a car parked in our driveway. Snow fall began in the late hours of Dec. 7 and continued on until the early hours of Saturday, the 9.