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Wilmington family remembers the 1989 snowstorm, birth of their grandson 25 years later

Published: Dec. 17, 2014 at 9:56 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 21, 2014 at 9:56 PM EST
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More than 15 inches of snow fell at Wilmington International Airport. (Source: WECT)
More than 15 inches of snow fell at Wilmington International Airport. (Source: WECT)
13 inches of snow was still on the ground for Christmas Day of 1989. (Source: WECT)
13 inches of snow was still on the ground for Christmas Day of 1989. (Source: WECT)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Are you dreaming of a White Christmas? Historic odds are less than 10 percent for Wilmington, but there was one year the odds were blown out of the water.

Just a few days before Christmas in 1989, a coastal snowstorm was brewing and it was sure to make history. An unprecedented 18-plus inches fell by Christmas in some spots of southeastern North Carolina.

"It was an exciting morning," giggled Sandra Schultz of Wilmington. "It was definitely a different Christmas!"

The 1989 Christmas was sure to be one Schultz and her family would never forget.

"I just remember lots of white outside," Schultz recalled.

The storm is considered the largest snowstorm in history for the southeast U.S. It left quite a mark on eastern North Carolina with blizzard-like conditions, 40 mph wind gusts, and power outages affecting thousands of people.

Just over 15 inches of snow fell in Wilmington and almost 20 inches fell in portions of Columbus and Brunswick counties by Christmas Eve. Snow even fell as far south as Tallahassee, Florida.

All time record low temperatures were smashed, dipping to zero degrees in Wilmington on Christmas morning.

But, not a year goes by that Schultz isn't reminded of the 1989 snowstorm.

"We were going to open gifts Christmas morning and my daughter Deborah she disappeared," Schultz said. "She went into the bedroom and she wasn't coming back anytime soon. We went to check on her and she was in labor!"

With record snowfall amounts still on the ground, the family couldn't make it to the hospital, so the paramedics came to them.

"I got a grandson for Christmas!" cheered Schultz as she walked into the bedroom where her grandson was born.

A healthy baby boy named John David decided he didn't want to miss out on Wilmington's white Christmas. 25 years later, he still has his grandmother smiling.

"He just got engaged!" said the proud grandmother.

It's very rare to see snow like Wilmington had in 1989, especially because of the city's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. There is no way to predict if we will ever have another record snowfall like that in the Wilmington area, but at least we can say we've had at least one white Christmas.

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