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OLD MAN WINTER SLEEPS IN
is startled awake
as his alarm clock bbbrrriiiinnngggsss.
“Dang,” he says surprizedly. “I slept in.”*
Not only is the weather bitter cold, It is the first big snowfall. Motorists sometimes just don’t know how to handle the first several snowfalls until they get used to driving in snow again, according to PennDOT spokeswoman Juliann Sheldon.***
As I pushed our cats out the door I admired the artwork on the frosted windows and noticed the temperature on our little protected step-in porch: 180 Fahrenheit. Brrr. I shivered as I reminded myself the cats are wore the cutest fur coats—King’s a beautiful shade of gray, Little Dog’s white with calico markings.
I poured myself a hot cup of coffee and sat down to review my January 7th file folder, which contained journals of January 7ths past. The tree lights were lit for their final morning display, soft music was playing on the radio, as I reviewed the papers in the folder.
On January 2, 1998,I’d flown to Bangor, Maine, where my mother was in the hospital. Unfortunately, she didn’t survive, so I’d traveled with siblings to her hometown, Presque Isle, where I spent the past few days.
Maine winters aren’t known for being gentle. Caribou, Maine, a short distance from Presque Isle, has been reported on no few occasions to be the coldest spot in the nation.
No, Maine winters aren’t gentle, and 1998 was no exception.
I take that statement back. It was an exception. I flew into Maine during a massive ice storm that covered the northeast from Pennsylvania north. Although the storm had passed the ice remained, creating cold and hazardous conditions.
On January 6, after spending several days in Presque Isle, I drove south to Bangor in the backseat of my niece’s sports car, which I could barely squeeze my body into. Down the icy highway we went, and I stayed in a room at the hospital’s inn.
On January 7 I took a cab to the airport. There was ice everywhere. Old man winter was still wreaking havoc. My flight was delayed and delayed until it was cancelled and the airline put the passengers up in a hotel for the night. The next day I was able to fly to Boston, then to Buffalo, New York, where my husband met me and we visited with family.
There was a January 5, 2004 newspaper clipping in the folder. The picture shows a heavily flooded North Shore Park in Pittsburgh…Two days of downpours…Steady rains drenched the region Sunday, flooding roads and basements, swelling rivers, creeks, and streams and causing several mudslides…Rais was expected to change to snow around daybreak, as temperatures plummet from the weekend’s unseasonably warm highs. The region could see up to an inch of snow today…The coldest air of the winter is expected to arrive by Wednesday and continue through late in the week. Highs are expected to be in the teens, with single-digit lows. Thus, on Wednesday, January 7, 2004, the weather would serve up conditions similar to today.
On Sunday, January 5, 2014: This week’s (predicted) below-zero temperatures (will) threaten life, livestock and infrastructure during a brief yet brutal cold snap that has government leaders issuing stern warnings…The National Weather Service in Moon issued a wind chill warning from 1 p.m. Monday through 10 a.m. Wednesday. Temperatures could drop as low as 8 to 15 degrees below zero Monday night, the coldest Pittsburgh has experienced in at least five years. Combined with wind gusts of up to 20 mph, the air could feel as cold as 25 to 40 degrees below zero.**
My record shows that at 1:00 a.m., Monday January 6th, it was 470 Fahrenheit in Laurel Mountain Borough, southeast of Pittsburgh. At 8: 45 a. m. the temperature dropped to 280 and at noon it was 190 with a very light snowfall.
Ligonier Echo’s Looking Back columns provides more insight into weather on (or about) January 7th in various years:
- January 8, 1965 There was a very light snowfall on Nov. 20; but since then it has been as arid as a frigid Sahara. Several times the thermometer dipped low enough to warrant turning on the snow machines; but by the next day the sun was beaming strong and the man-made snow trickled down the mountainside… ^
- Jan 5, 1940 The Ligonier district this week was put on a diet of snow and sinking mercury. The section was lashed by high winds and snows that put temperatures into a skid…Highway department snow plows worked continually in an effort to clear the main roads of their hazardous covering…Paradoxically, one year ago this week a warm sun sent the mercury soaring into the sixties and local residents enjoyed weather conditions typical of May.^^
It’s now 11:59 p. m., January 6, 2015 The radio announced the temperature: 2 degrees Fahrenheit. The first time it was this low this year.
Snow is a precious commodity, especially to winter sports enthusiaasts.
Precious commodity or not, the first throes of winter (there had been a light snowfall a few days earlier) of 2015 brought out the snowplows in Laurel Mountain Borough and the snow shovel for Monte to use on our driveway. We must now adapt to bitter cold weather while awaiting the relief spring brings.
* Randy Bish cartoon January 7, 2015, Tribune-Review pp. A9
^ Ligonier Echo, Looking Back, 50 years ago, January 1, 2015
^^ Ligonier Echo, Looking Back, 75 years ago, January 1, 2015