Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Winter Weather of the Past

The ice storms of February 2008 have made headlines for the past two weeks. As a true lover of our local history, I always want to know what has happened in our past. I like to know whether things now are as bad as they were back then, or whether we just think they were.

I get most of my information on our local history from the archives of The Crittenden Press that are on mirco-film at our local Library, so off to the Library I went. From my own memory and those of my husband and son, I knew that January and February of 1977-1978 and 1979 were some of the most snowy and cold days that we remembered in our lifetime.

Living on a farm in rural northwest Crittenden County was rough for man as well as the animals on the farm and in the woods. Families would work together to help keep the graveled country roads at least passable, if only with one lane. During the winter of 1978, we received the help of neighbor, Gleaford Easley, who actually used his bulldozer to plow a lane through our road so that a vechicle could make it to the highway. The piles of snow on the road were higher than a pick-up truck.

January 1977 started out with a 10 inch snow, which was one of the deepest snows we had seen in several years. A cold northern wind kept temperatures at zero for several days and even dropped to 10-15 below zero. The Ohio River even froze during this icy grip of winter.

January 1978 we were hit again with a 15-18 inches of snow. Mail could not be delivered to the rural routes. Postmaster Ed Runyan said it was the first time since 1963, when he became postmaster that the routes weren't delivered. Once again familes worked together and if one could make it to Marion, he would pick up everyone's mail that lived close by and would take it to them. We were lucky and had one of the few 4-wheel drive trucks on our roads. Schools and factories, Moore's Business Forms and Potter and Brumfield plant, were closed until streets could be cleared enough for traffic. Then in February, with the ice and snow still around, a high wind added to the problems and disrupted electric service for a while.

January 1979, another wintery blast hit us with temperatures as low as zero, ensuring the snow and ice would remain for a while. A week later, another snow fell on our area, causing school to be closed for all but 4 days in January and most of the month of February. Schools ran until June of that year.

These are just a few of the facts of the winters of 1977, 1978 and 1979. Needless to say, we all dreaded thinking of what Mother Nature had in store for us at the start of the next new year.

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