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It wasn't half bad

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS West Broad Street in Tamaqua is snow-covered this morning. Last evening's snowfall totaled 4.8 inches in Tamaqua, enough to cause a school delay in the community this morning.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS West Broad Street in Tamaqua is snow-covered this morning. Last evening's snowfall totaled 4.8 inches in Tamaqua, enough to cause a school delay in the community this morning.
Published January 12. 2011 05:00PM

Enough snow fell overnight to close Carbon County schools, but it could have been a lot worse.

It was a lot worse in places like Long Island, N.Y., where about 18 inches was predicted. Just two weeks ago, two feet of snow fell in Long Island.

New York City was expecting a little more than a foot, adding to the total in the metropolitan area, which saw two feet on Dec. 26-27.

Locally, about a half of foot of snow fell in some areas.

Ronald Yurchak, official weather observer for the National Weather Service in Tamaqua, reported 4.8 inches fell as of 7 a.m. today. That equates to .35 inches of water content.

At the Central Carbon Municipal Authority office in Lehighton, five inches of snow was measured.

It was enough snow to close many local schools today, including all districts in Carbon County, as well as Northern Lehigh and Northwestern in Lehigh County. The Tamaqua Area School District had classes, but there was a two-hour delay.

Several minor accidents were reported during the course of the snowfall.

The most serious accident occurred in Jim Thorpe last night after 8 p.m. A driver coming down Packer Hill reportedly lost control of his vehicle on the snow-covered roadway. The car failed to negotiate a curve and crashed through hand rails. It had a drop of about 25 feet, landing vertically in a parking area behind the Carbon County Courthouse.

It was reported that the vehicle didn't hit the courthouse.

PennDOT had reduced the speed limit late yesterday afternoon to 45 mph on most interstate highways, but by 6 a.m. today returned them to their normal rates.

The main problems expected today would be winds. The National Weather Service said winds would be between 15 and 20 miles per hour, with gusts about 30 mph. As a result, drifting is likely.

PennDOT is reminding drivers to slow down, pay attention and use caution on area roadways, especially during snow squalls that may occur today.

Motorists should always be alert for sudden snow squalls which can strike with little or no warning and quickly cause roads to become snow covered. Heavy squalls can also cause whiteout conditions, virtually eliminating a driver's visibility.

If motorists do encounter snow squalls while traveling, PennDOT offers this advice:

• Slow down gradually and drive at a speed that suits the conditions.

• Turn on your headlights.

• Stay in your lane.

• Increase your following distance.

• Reduce in-car distractions since your full attention is required.

• Use defroster and wipers.

• During whiteouts, come to a complete stop only when you can safely get as far off the road as possible or when there is a safe area to do so.

The National Weather Service says below normal temperatures should stick around for the next week, with the next shot of precipitation possibly arriving in the middle of next week. Of course, that system is too far away for any type of prediction.

Today marks the anniversary date of the first of two blizzards of 1888.

The most serious one happened March 11-14 in the Eastern part of the United States, and was dubbed "The Great White Hurricane."

But before this, on Jan. 12, 1888, a severe blizzard occurred in the Midwest and claimed the lives of 235 people, many of them children on their way home from school. According to the History Channel, the storm came with no warning, and some accounts say that the temperature fell nearly 100 degrees (from 60 to minus 40 in North Dakota) in just 24 hours.

One account of that storm said three children died in Plainfield, Neb. when they became lost in the blizzard just 90 yards from their school. They died of hypothermia. Their teacher tried unsuccessfully to find them and lost her feet to frostbite.

Locally, the last significant snowfall happened Feb. 10 of last year. Snow fell at the amount of two inches an hour during the height of the storm. By the time the storm ended, it dumped 25.5 inches of snow in Summit Hill, 20 inches in Jim Thorpe, 18 inches in Bowmanstown and Lehighton, 17.5 inches of snow in Albrightsville, and 16 inches in Tamaqua.

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