Looking for Atlanta’s snow? It’s in Blue Ridge

Russ Stevenson drives one of his sons, Tyler, down a hill in snowy Blue Ridge, where the family went sledding Saturday. (Craig Schneider / cschneider@ajc.com)

Russ Stevenson drives one of his sons, Tyler, down a hill in snowy Blue Ridge, where the family went sledding Saturday. (Craig Schneider / cschneider@ajc.com)

This is how it was supposed to be in Atlanta Saturday: beautiful snowscapes, sledding, laughing, throwing snowballs.

But you had to drive 93 miles to the north for all that.

Having experienced little in the way of downed trees or power losses, many North Georgia communities like Blue Ridge got serious about simply enjoying the snow on Saturday.

Russ Stevenson and his two boys were joyously sledding down a hill that seemed to go on forever. After all, this is Blue Ridge, a place named for and known for its mountains.

And the Stevensons had it down to a science.

The father drove the kids in his four-wheeler to the top of the hill and watched them fly back down on an old-fashioned sled. Then he went and picked them up, and did it again.

“Just having fun,” said his boy, Tyler, 11. “Sledding, having snowball fights.”

Pretty snow, passable roads: This scene in Blue Ridge on Saturday is what people in Atlanta were looking for but didn’t find. (Craig Schneider / cschneider@ajc.com)

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The snowfall seemed to work out perfectly, dropping two inches right at the start of the weekend, Stevenson said. Communities higher in the mountains received up to five inches.

In Blue Ridge, John Runions went so far as to get on his bicycle. He had to get to work and he had no car.

“It’s faster than walking,” he said, looking very cold.

Debbie Pillsbury was in town for only a short stay, coming up from Florida. She said this was only the second time in her life she had seen snow.

“It’s absolutely beautiful,” she said. “You want to run around and play in it. “

If you looked at the thick flakes just right in the early morning light, they seemed to sparkle.

She added, “Everyone seems to be in a good mood.”

That applied even to county officials, who had been concerned about power failures, car wrecks, stranded citizens and worse.

“This isn’t bad,” said Robert Graham, Fannin County’s emergency services director. “We get something like this once a year. People are used to it.”

He said there were about a dozen small accidents in the county.

Still, Graham worried that the snow would turn to ice late Saturday, especially looking at temperatures that were already in the teens Saturday morning.

“As this melts at night it will turn to ice overnight and we’ll have black ice issues,” Graham said.

The community went into Saturday night under a winter chill advisory, with temperatures Sunday morning expected in the single digits and, with the wind chill, down to zero.

Graham was also thankful that the snow came during a weekend, believing that things could be very different had there been a morning commute.

Harry Patel shovels snow at his BP station in Blue Ridge Saturday.

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Some people canceled weekend reservations. But the city also gets some folks who book once they hear there’s snow.

Harry Patel, who lives on a big hill, made sure to park his car at the bottom of it Friday night. That made for a 15-minute walk in the cold in the morning but he made it in time to open his BP station.

“It wasn’t bad,” he said.

The roads were passable. On the other hand, he had seen only one customer in an hour.

By afternoon, stores and restaurants on the main drag were opening up.