Worse winters have been listed on record for single snowfalls, such as the one when the behemoth blizzard of ’96 struck in early January. Philadelphia was socked with 31 inches (79 centimeters) of powdery snow that shut the area down under a state of emergency for two days. A few other bad snowstorms occurred in years leading up to the new millennium and well into the 21st century, with the most recent blizzard prior to this season, smacking the region in February 2010 immediately before I left for Mardi Gras. Driving down to New Orleans, I had to clear snow off the Cooper ahead of hitting the road, having been a couch potato during the brunt of the Nor’easter’s wrath.
For the following three years, the winters were mild with little to no snowfall whatsoever, and the previous winters going back decades might have produced two, perhaps three storms about which to list in a season. Then came the winter from hell. The first storm preceded the solstice by barely two weeks on December 8, 2013.
The second snowfall resulted with just a dusting on the 15th of December, leaving the roads quite navigable and offering a picture-postcard scenery.
The resulting snow melted quickly, and hopes for a white Christmas in our region were soon dispelled; but in a little over three weeks later, the third assault from Mother Nature blanked the area with several inches overnight and into the daylight hours, starting on January 2nd and storming into the 3rd.
The next several days remained bitterly cold, and the snow stayed on the ground—an unusual occurrence from the daytime temps, typically ascending above freezing right after a storm.
Adding insult to injury, in a manner of speaking, a polar vortex descended upon us four days later, bringing sub-freezing temperatures down to single digits and way below zero with the windchill factor for the next several days, almost completely freezing the Delaware River.
Along with the frigid arctic air mass, hanging about, and two storm systems that met each other to became one, the Philly region got slammed by a doozy of a snowfall which amounted to 14 inches (36 centemeters). Storm number four slowed the area down to a crawl on January 21st.
The main roads were well maintained and mostly clear, but the side streets in many vicinities remained snow-covered, as seen in the picture below:
Brutally low temperatures continued to freeze over the Delaware River, leaving only the deeper water of the channel left unfrozen.
More like flowing in a Nordic country, the Delaware River continued to freeze over as seen below on February 1st, 2014.
A couple of days above freezing melted most of the ice away in the river, but on the third of February, the fifth snowstorm of the season brought approximately six more inches of wet snow, which raised havoc during the morning commute. By the afternoon, roads had become slushy but generally were clear and safely passable.
Now, as I type this entry and format the pictures in place, snowstorm system number six is presently underway, starting as rain while another one to four inches of white stuff mixed with sleet and freezing rain is predicted. The forecast for an additional one inch of eventual ice on the roadways, trees and power lines by daybreak might cause power outages and extremely dangerous traveling conditions. Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day saw his shadow, which denotes another six weeks left of winter, that blasted varmint. I’m so looking forward to spring and baseball season.