Saturday, March 01, 2008

Thoughts On Record Snowfall

Today's storm makes this year nearly tied for snowiest in my lifetime. It won't take much of a March (or April - shudder) to make 2007/8 the snowiest in 150 years. That has everyone around here agog, of course, with a new focus for our complaining/bragging.

Looking over the list, the other record years cluster in two areas.
1. 122.0 INCHES 1873/74
2. 115.0 INCHES 1872/73
3. 112.4 INCHES 1995/96
4. 111.0 INCHES 1886/87
5. 111.0 INCHES 1887/88
6. 103.2 INCHES 1898/99
7. 103.0 INCHES 1874/75
8. 102.2 INCHES 2007/08 (before today's storm)
9. 100.0 INCHES 1875/76
10. 100.0 INCHES 1971/72

From 1872-76, we (they) had four straight high-snow winters. 1886-88 had two more.

Ponder this: their ability to remove snow was far, far less than ours. Bringing out a team of horses and a heavy drag to pack down the road was more common than trying to shovel anything out. Shovels, by the way, were heavier and clumsier than now. No snowplows. For one big storm or two you could just stay home and take your time about getting everything opened out, but you couldn't do that for an entire winter. Most people lived in the rural areas. Long roads from your house to the next. Tough to be old, or sick, or injured.

Living like that is getting well into Poor Bastards range. If you were born in the 1860's, you grew up thinking 100 inches was a fairly normal winter, and you'd shoveled a lot of snow by the time your reached adulthood. That generation was the one which actually did have the justification to complain "Why, when I was your age..."

1 comment:

Michael said...

The interesting thing about the two "modern" snowfall years are there are no "memorable" storms. 1969 always sticks in my memory because it was a brutal February, two memorable storms in one month - but it was a dry winter before that. 1978 had a memorable storm in January and the biggy in February - and not much else. What 95-96 and this winter have in common is not big storms, but lots of storms. When this winter is over, we'll remember it for the high snowfall but have little recollection of what comprised that record.