Commonwealth Journal

Local News

January 1, 2014

Brrr... Cold spell predicted next week

Arctic blast may bring rain & snow


Somerset —

As somber as this sounds, severe weather expected next week has yet to compare with winters during the latter half of the last century. Relatively mild winters since the mid-1990s have spurred global warming enthusiasts to spend millions of tax dollars trying to figure where the cold air seeped out. A local wag suggested if next week is cold as expected, a refund is in order.
In the opinion of some weather scientists, absence of bitter cold and shoe-mouth-deep snow during the  past two decades does not endorse global warming. They agree weather trends are cyclical, pointing to tree rings indicating historical warm and cold periods.
From the 1960s through the mid-1990s, you could bank on temperatures plunging far below zero every January. Worst of the worst was January 19, 1994, when the temperature reached 32 degrees BELOW zero in Somerset with a foot of snow on the ground. Thirty-one years earlier, on January 24, 1963, it was 28 BELOW with 6 to 7 inches of snow.
There were several periods of bitter cold during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. On a day in the late 1980s, the temperature at noon was 6 below zero with 25-30 mph winds. That’s 6 BELOW zero ... at noon ... in Somerset! The National Weather Service said because of high wind and chill factor that day was the coldest in weather history.
No one will ever forget the winters of 1976-77 and 1977-78. For sustained cold, January 1977 was the coldest month in recorded weather history. Lake Cumberland was solidly frozen a foot thick. Thousands of water birds paddled furiously to keep small holes open for feeding. Trucks and cars fearlessly drove over the ice, oblivious to 90 feet of water below. A Commonwealth-Journal reporter-photographer observed ice 9 to 12 inches thick being cut with a chain saw at Lee’s Ford Marina Resort.

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