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Snow, ice earthquake in one week
IURA Amicalola creek CROPPED

Preparations from city and county officials and work crews helped thwart what could have been a dangerous snowstorm in Dawson County last week.

Public works and Emergency Services personnel worked tirelessly during the storm to make sure citizens were as safe as possible, County Manager Cindy Campbell said. The effectiveness of their operations is the result of all the pre-planning and attention that went into preparing for and dealing with the snow and ice event.

The City of Dawsonville public works team worked through the night on Tuesday to prepare streets for heavy snowfall. I cant say enough about the job they did with our city streets, Mayor James Grogan said.

The city closed its offices Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Grogan said. Some employees came in on Tuesday anyway. Thats just the kind of employees the city is blessed with.

A winter system moved into the area Tuesday, Feb. 11, and continued the next day, bringing several inches of snow to the county.

Four inches of snow fell in some parts of the county; other areas got snow drifts of up to 14 inches.

Resident Michelle Houts snapped a photo of her children with a measuring tape showing almost 14 inches of snow. (It was)taken today at the high school while sledding down the hills, she said of the photo.

Accidents were minimal, and no serious injuries were reported, Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford said.

The snow came at a good time, he said. It came in the overnight hours when people were already at home.

Campbell said the county used 20 tons of salt and 30 tons of gravel on county roads. Crews also spread 1,320 pounds of salt on sidewalks and parking lots.

Campbell said 18 residents were reported without power, and 25 trees were reported down. The Dawson County Emergency Management Agency has a plan in place for housing citizens without power or in need of emergency shelter. Thankfully, conditions did not warrant activation of this plan, she said.

This week, residents may get a dose of spring fever. According to the National Weather Service, temperatures will range from the low to high 60s, with a slight chance of showers.

A 4.1-magnitude earthquake was felt in Dawson County last Saturday night at about 10:20 p.m. as locals were shaken by seismic waves that originated just outside Edgefield, S.C.

Several residents felt the earth literally move under their feet.

Rev. David Jordan of Grace Presbyterian Church said he felt it while sitting on his couch that evening. At first I thought my wife shook the couch somehow, he said, but I looked at her and she was sitting perfectly still.

Jordan said at first he thought a tree might have fallen in his yard. After searching through news and social media websites, herealized it was an earthquake.

Dawson County Development Authority Director Charlie Auvermann is no stranger to earthquakes. Bindi (Auvermanns wife) grew upin Long Beach (Calif.), so she knew exactly what was happening, Auvermann said about feeling Fridays quake.

Auvermann said he saw the pendant lights gently swinging from the ceiling of his home.

He and Bindi were in San Francisco during the 1989 World Series earthquake, known as the Loma Prieta quake.

Earthquakes of this magnitude usually occur at a shallow depth of five to 10 miles below the surface, said Dr. Brad Herbert, a professor at the University of North Georgias Dahlonega campus. Herbert has taught UNGs geology survey class since 1996.

Often people feel earthquakes thanks to their relationship to the bedrock, Herbert said, with exposed rock common near the surface, as opposed to those in valleys where sediment insulates the rock.

In addition, people often feel the shaking of buildings on higher floors, he said, while those on the ground floor feel less activity.

Herbert remembers the 5.1-magnitude earthquake that was felt in Dahlonega and Dawson in 2003.

That earthquake, which was 10 times as strong as last Saturdays 4.1-magnitude quake, Herbert said, had its epicenter near Fort Payne, Ala.

It is more common for earthquakes in this area to go unnoticed, he said, with 1.8 to 2.4-magnitude quakes occurring 3-4 times per year.

These often happen near Milledgeville or Dalton, Ga., or near Anderson, S.C., Herbert said.

Dawson and Dahlonega are not near any large fault lines, according to Herbert, with the largest nearby line located around the Alabama/Georgia state line.

According to the U.S Geological Survey website, last Saturdays earthquake was followed by a magnitude 3.2 aftershock the following day at 3:23 p.m., which was also centered around Edgefield, S.C.

According to USGS.Gov, more than 15,000 residents in 57 cities--from Hickory, N.C., to Atlanta and Macon, Ga.--reported feeling theshaking last Friday.

No damage or injuries were reported in Dawson County.

John Bynum, CNI regional news staff contributed to this report.