Columbia County residents woke up to something quite unusual Saturday -- a winter wonderland.
A winter storm that moved into the area Friday left between 5 and 7 inches of snow throughout the county, according to the National Weather Service.
By midday Saturday, much of the snow had started to melt as temperatures rose above freezing and the sun came out from behind the clouds.
That didn't keep Brooklen Latka and her family from taking advantage of the white stuff before it was gone.
The Evans girl sledded on a boogie board with her cousin down a steep hill next to the Evans Professional Center, where a large amount of fluffy snow still remained.
"I think it's really great," said Brooklen, who enjoyed building snowmen and engaging in several snowball fights as the storm moved through the area. "You get to play with your family and friends."
The snow also came just in time for Brooklen's eighth birthday on Valentine's Day.
Her mother, Bre Musick, seemed just as pleased with the wintry precipitation.
"I can't believe all the snow we got last night," she said. "It's amazing."
The Augusta area last saw snow flurries in January 2009, but only seven snowstorms since 1961 have caused 2 inches or more to accumulate in the region, according to assistant state climatologist Pam Knox.
The deepest amount of snowfall in the Augusta area occurred in February 1973, when accumulations of 14 inches blanketed the ground.
On Friday, snow flurries started falling in the county at about 2:30 p.m. and began sticking to roads and sidewalks at about 5 p.m., creating treacherous driving conditions.
The county's Roads and Bridges Department kept busy Friday evening by driving motor graders and salt trucks around to scrape roads in addition to salting bridges and overpasses, Emergency and Operations Director Pam Tucker wrote in an e-mail.
Though about 60 fender-benders were reported during the afternoon and evening hours on Friday no serious accidents occurred, said a Columbia County 911 dispatcher.
The snowfall also caused several power outages.
About 16,000 residents in the Augusta area were without power Saturday, Tucker said. Affected areas within the county included Evans-to-Lock Road, the Jones Creek and Canterbury Farms subdivisions, Mears Street in Martinez, Dunes Drive in Evans, as well as isolated areas in and near Harlem and Grovetown, Tucker said.
The rare occurrence of accumulating snow was still viewed as a treat for many children and adults in the county.
For Musick, the wintry weather came at a perfect time, considering schools were closed Friday as part of a state-requested educator furlough.
"The timing couldn't have been better with the kids out of school," she said. "It's just so great they get to have snow to play in on their winter break."
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