Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Winter Storm Warning of recent days reminded me of a storm that occurred many years past. I believe it was 1950 that the snowfall occurred. I was living in Wexford, PA at the time and was in my first year of college at what was then Carnegie Institute of Technology. The snowfall came when the school was on the break for Thanksgiving and began, as I recall, some days after Thanksgiving Day. It continued for some time and when it was over left some thirty-plus inches on the ground.

That was a lot of snow to shovel and my Dad and I spent some time clearing our long drive. Ridding the public roads of snow took a long time as well and the Pittsburgh area was a few days getting back to normal. Carnegie Tech was a few days getting back to normal as well and our Thanksgiving vacation was extended. I was into hunting then and the deer season came into being the first week in December so of course I took the extra time off to look for deer. There wasn’t much chance of finding them in thirty inches of snow and the deer were safe from my hunting buddy and me. But that was all right, We had a good time anyway and I enjoyed my extended vacation and returned to Tech about a week later than originally scheduled.

When I heard the recent storm warning, I had thoughts of a repeat of that 1950 snow, but it never came to be. This year’s Thanksgiving storm fell far short, a few inches in this area, though I understand other areas were hit much harder. It seems in this day of mass communication the warnings of winter weather bear an urgency and an alarm that I do not remember in years past. I’m not sure why that is. I have talked to other people who ascribe it to everything from the need of the media to raise their ratings to the greater difficulty in predicting weather in recent years to an alliance between the media and supermarket chains for selling milk, bread and toilet paper. At any rate, I don’t believe there will be people fifty years from now reminiscing about the big snow that occurred during the Thanksgiving holiday of 2013.

After I wrote the above, I went online to check details and my memory. Wikipedia titles the storm as the Great Appalachian Storm of November 1950. It formed on November 24, reached maximum intensity on November 25 and dissipated on November 30, which was Thanksgiving Day of 1950. I was a bit off on my memory of dates. It was classified as an extratropical cyclone that affected 22 states and dumped a maximum snowfall of fifty seven inches in some areas; winds peaked at 160 miles per hour in the New England highlands. In all, there were 353 fatalities due to the storm and total damages of $66.7 million (1950 dollars). The affected area was the eastern third of the United States and southeast Canada.

The Pittsburgh area received 30.5 inches of snow and a subsequent warm spell in early December resulted in river flooding.

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