It’s understandable. The Monday morning commute featured snow-packed and slippery roads. The wind and temperature felt like January. The leaf pile you raked to the curb is now frozen.
Generally, the third paragraph of a weather story contains uplifting news, such as “It’s going to warm up by Wednesday!” or “They were wrong about the wind chill!”
Sorry, not this time.
The best we can do is tell you that we broke temperature records Monday and probably will Tuesday, too. More snow is predicted for Wednesday, and it’s not going warm up until Friday, when the forecast calls for—wait for it—34 degrees.
The National Weather Service in Sullivan predicted Monday evening temperatures would drop to 5 degrees. According to The Gazette’s weather records, which date back to 1948, the last time it was this cold on Nov. 11 was in 1950, when it was 10 degrees.
On Tuesday, temperatures will drop to a low of 6 degrees, with wind chills making it feel like minus 5. The last time we had a Nov. 12 that was this frigid was in 1986, when the low was 11 degrees.
On Wednesday evening, look for about another inch of snow.
Meanwhile, the leaf piles that people so carefully raked into piles for pickup Monday are now frozen and covered with snow.
Operations Director John Whitcomb isn’t happy about the leaves/snow combination, either, describing his choices as “lose-lose.”
Years ago, a previous city manager asked Whitcomb to condense the leaf collection into the two weeks before the week of Thanksgiving. In response, Whitcomb looked back through the records to 1979 to see if such a schedule was practical.
“I only found one time when we plowed during that two-week time frame,” Whitcomb said. “This is really rare.”
On the streets Monday, plow drivers tried to plow around the mounds of snow and leaves. Their only other option was to push both snow and leaves into people’s driveways and onto terraces.
“To us, that was less palatable than what we plan to do,” Whitcomb said.
The city’s plan is to collect the bigger piles of leaves, but because of single-digit temperatures, the bottom layer of leaves will stick to the pavement, Whitcomb said.
“They’re going to do the best they can out there, which is not going to be very good,” he said. “It’s an impossible situation.”
If the weather warms up, city crews will take advantage of that to pick up more leaves.
Many people noticed that the roads were snow-packed and slippery Monday.
Whitcomb explained that the city uses salt brine when the pavement temperatures are 23 degrees and above. Below that temperature, crews switch to salt.
“When we started, the temperatures were in the high 20s, but they degraded very quickly, and we had quite a bit of bonding to the pavement,” he said.
Tomorrow’s sunshine should help.
Overall, it’s been a rough fall, and Whitcomb hopes the early snow doesn’t signal the start of winter.
“I have a hard time believing that it will sustain itself and just stay winter,” he said.
We do, too.