I would say that this year I thought I saw everything weather-wise one could imagine, but Mother Nature seems destined to continue to outdo herself. Each month appears to have brought its own unique flair and just when it seemed like there was a month she could possibly disappoint, the earth moved, literally.
Just to recap in the space of less than 12 months we have dealt with some pretty nasty ice storms and snow storms which thawed into a normal spring until we reached Memorial Day. At that point, everything just let loose and residents in the TIMES NEWS reading area found themselves ducking for cover from incredibly sized three inch plus hail in some places.
I was just leaving my garage having moved my car inside for cover when one of those bombs whizzed past my head with a loud whistle. Newscasters throughout the area said hail that size was unheard of in northeastern Pennsylvania.
This was followed up with tornadoes that touched down in the coverage area within a few days of storms in numbers that were quite unusual. When the weather settled down, the heat kicked in and began cooking the area with 100 plus degree weather reminiscent of last summer. This led us into a July that was quite dry, but was followed by a record wet August which was capped off by a hurricane.
While we are speaking of August, we must not forget the earthquake that shook the eastern seaboard. True, this was not a weather phenomena, but it was an anomaly that continued to showcase the bizarre nature of 2011 weather.
Up until the earthquake, all of this weather with the exception of the hail was highly localized and relatively speaking low in damages, but this all changed in a two-week period from just before to just after Labor Day.
A one-two punch of hurricanes and tropical storms devastated much of eastern and central Pennsylvania and New England in a scale rarely seen. First Hurricane Irene nailed Pennsylvania with flooding rains and wind, but that turned out to be a precursor to a natural disaster rarely seen in this part of the country. Irene and the rain that fell in the days before and after the hurricane inundated the ground with water that created a monster of Tropical Storm Lee.
Lee devastated the Susquehanna Valley practically from the northern border to the southern border of Pennsylvania easily causing billions of dollars in damages and flooding locations that have never before been underwater. Many major highways and bridges that withstood storms in the past were destroyed by the persistent rains. Entire communities were destroyed by this storm.
It took weeks to return to normal and just when fall seemed to be peaceful, Mother Nature reached into her bag of tricks and produced a major surprise for Halloween. Last week I mentioned remembering how changeable the weather was and how every so often we get a dusting, but at the time I wrote that column I never dreamed a mere seven days later, we would be in the grips of yet another disaster caused by a pre-winter nor'easter, another weather anomaly so rare that it handily broke snowfall records last weekend throughout the eastern seaboard.
Several folks laughed when Accu-Weather Meteorologist Joe Bastardi went out on a proverbial limb and predicted this storm would be the worst nor'easter of the winter. People scoffed at him, but they did not count on the fact that the leaves on the trees were a major player in the devastating impact the storm had on eastern Pennsylvania northward making Bastardi's prediction much more realistic.
While the storm itself was modest as far as snowstorms go, this storm dumped 6 to 12 inches throughout the area and normally this storm would be easily handled in January, but October brought its own challenges. Many municipalities probably were not ready with winter materials to treat the roads.
The worst aspect of the storm though was the trees. The heavy wet snow weighed them down and destroyed not only the dying trees but many healthy ones as well. Unfortunately when a major portion of the branches and trunks fell, they hit power lines, both transmission and distribution forcing PPL to quickly call for reinforcements bringing thousands of utility workers to the area to remedy the massive power outages.
While this October snowstorm is a memory now for the most part, it makes one wonder what is yet to come for the year 2011. Will there be a hard winter, or will it be mercifully dull?
Unfortunately, a news story I read earlier this week stated there is no correlation to what happens in October as a marker for what happens the rest of the winter. Some winters that had snow in October were dull, while others were quite nasty.
No one knows for sure what will happen, but judging from the weather of 2011 to date, I would say in the words of the great screen actress Bette Davis, "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy night" or in this case "winter."
Til next time …