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‘Old-timer’ remembers when big snows hit

We made it through the month of January with an abundance of gray, gloomy days, but not too many days when we had a lot of snow and blizzard-like conditions. It seems to me that January often feels like the loneliest month of the year with a lot of winter-like conditions to deal with.

Now we have the months of February and March ahead of us and sometimes they can be mean months. Some of our worst storms of past years have occurred during that time.

On the other hand, we have a slight warming trend starting in February. One of the old-timers I used to know had the saying, “It thaws a little bit some place every day in February.”

The sun is getting a little higher as each day goes by. That means it is getting a little bit warmer. The change in temperature may not be noticed because the month can deal some rough weather. As is often the case every day with the weather, we don’t know what to expect.

Late February usually brings some maple syrup-making weather. We get a few warm days in the 40s and some sugar-makers get eager and decide to tap their maple trees. They might get a few good sap runs before it turns cold and the sap doesn’t flow. Every year is different when it comes to making maple syrup.

At the risk of sounding like an old-timer, and I have to admit that I am a part of that special group, I can say that I remember when we had some rough winters back in 1976 and ’77. Winters that, at the time, I would rather forget.

I was working as a northeast Ohio Extension supervisor for The Ohio State University out of the Canfield office. The job required travel to area counties. January of 1976 had been a rough month to travel because of poor weather.

I left my office about 8 a.m. to go to Ravenna in Portage County. The weather was poor when I left my office, but I thought I could make it. But the further west I went, the worse the weather got. Soon, there were blizzard conditions with very little visibility.

So I decided it was time to turn around and head back to my office. When I got there, I knew it was time to close the office and send secretaries and other staff members home while they could get there. I got them in their cars and headed home.

Then I decided to get home myself. Thankfully, I lived in Canfield then and was able to get home fairly quick. My driveway was full of snow, and I wasn’t able to get to the garage.

I had a two-wheel Gravely tractor with chains on the wheels and a heavy-duty snow plow on the front. When you knew how to handle it, it would go through most any snow drift. I had enough experience with it that I was able to get the driveway partly cleared and the car in the garage.

The weather stayed bad for another day, so we didn’t open the office until the driveway and parking lot were cleared and everyone could safely get there.

Another thing that made the experience difficult was the temperature had dropped and it was very cold. It took a while to get the offices warmed up so everyone was comfortable.

In 1977-78, we had another tough winter. I was at a conference in Holmes County and when it was time to leave, it was snowing hard. I got as far as Smithville in Wayne County and could get no farther. I had some friends in that community and was able to stay overnight with them. This was my only experience of not being able to get where back home when I wanted to

Yes, I do sound like an “old-timer” when I say “I remember when.” I must admit that I fit that category.

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