White Christmas keeps road and emergency crews busy

The mountains were blanketed in snow over the holiday weekend in what is believed to be the first white Christmas the Plateau has seen in a decade.

Christmas Day throughout Highlands.

A winter wonderland in the mountains may look gorgeous, but road and emergency crews had their hands full responding to calls over the holiday, including a landslide on Highway 64 and Chowan Road near On the Verandah restaurant.

A large tree fell along Highway 64 and caused a landslide that brought down powerlines and scattered boulders the size of car doors throughout the road. Photo was taken on Christmas Eve around midnight after crews had initially cleared the road.

The landslide was reported around 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve and is believed to have started with a falling tree that ended up bringing down several large rocks and a powerline along with it, leaving everything strewn throughout the road.

“A large tree fell due to winds and saturated soil, causing the embankment to slide with the stump,” said Highlands Public Works Director Lamar Nix.

Snow blankets the mountains around Ravenel Lake at the Highlands Biological Station on Christmas Day.

Nix added that a contract crew has been working to clean up the location throughout the week.

In preparation for the winter weather over the weekend, Nix said Town crews began treating the roads early afternoon on Christmas Eve.

Town of Highlands road crews spent Christmas Eve treating the roads to battle the on and off again snowfall.

He said the snow came in waves and made the roads slick, and soon the sidewalks had to be treated as well.

Town Square in downtown Highlands on Christmas Eve. By late afternoon the sidewalks needed to be treated in addition to the roads.

Highlands Fire & Rescue Chief Ryan Gearhart said they were busy throughout the weekend, including reports of car accidents, and downed trees and power lines. He added that icy roads contributed to the car accidents.

Town Christmas Tree at K-H Founders Park on Christmas Eve around midnight.

In terms of preparation for incoming snow, Gearhart said all they can really do is put the cables on the tires (they don’t use chains on tires as much anymore).

The Kelsey Trail along the Highlands Plateau Greenway and maintained by the Highlands Cashiers Land Trust accumulated several inches of snow by Christmas Day.

Harris Lake on Christmas Day.

The fountain at K-H Founders Park on Christmas Eve.

Main Street on Christmas Day in Highlands.

Cashiers also received its share of snow over the holiday weekend that lingered for several days. Pictured above is The Village Green on Dec. 28 still looking like a winter wonderland.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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