Winter continues with second big snow

PAT FRIDGEN
Neighborhood kids on Orchard Circle built a snow fort Sunday afternoon. Taking a break are, from left: Sam Reed, 8; Jacob Reed, 10; Ian Reed, 3; Caitlin Eshleman, 9; and Hannah Jo Downin, 3.

The snow came down and the shovels went out, and pity the poor guy who didn’t learn his lesson after the last major storm. Greencastle and Antrim Township received 16.8 inches of snow on Friday and Saturday, not a record, but enough to cause people to flock to the stores for supplies in the days before the well-predicted precipitation.

The 13.5 inches that blanketed the area Dec. 18 and 19 were just a precursor to the rest of winter, and people had time to prepare to fight back against Mother Nature.

Some didn’t.

Bob Zeger, owner of Antrim Building and Farm Supply, 201 N. Carlisle St., had good sales on Thursday and Friday in the hours before the first flakes fell.

“Business was real good. It was all storm-related,” he said. “I sold out of shovels and salt.”

According to Greencastle weather observer Robert Wertime, 9.4 inches of snow fell between 11:40 a.m. and midnight Feb. 5, and the rest landed on Feb. 6.

A delivery truck brought in more supplies Friday and Zeger was able to make people as happy as they could be, considering the job ahead. He was the only person to make it to work Saturday, opening at 7:15 a.m. Two customers came in. One left with a shovel, the other left empty handed. Zeger closed at noon instead of his usual 3 p.m. His next order of shovels is due to arrive Friday.

Just in case

While the storm was tracking north mid-week, grocery stores were braced for the onslaught of people who fear running out of necessities in the few hours or days they might be blocked in.

“Thursday was unbelievable,” said Sunnyway Foods grocery manager Doug Main. “It was the busiest day we’ve ever had in Sunnyway’s history.”

Customers stocked up on the essentials, bread, milk, eggs and toilet paper. And they bought even more.

“They bought everything they could put in the cart,” Main continued. “They shopped the whole store.”

Even Friday was busier than he expected, so it was another “great day” for the store at 212 N. Antrim Way. It did close at 9 p.m., an hour earlier than normal. And the next morning only seven employees could get to work.

Main opened up at 7 a.m. and traffic was slow until after lunch. Once the snow stopped the store was busy again. He gave accolades to the one cashier who reported for duty and put in a long day.

At Food Lion, 500 N. Antrim Way, the pace was also accelerated. Christy Phillips-Brown, director of media relations, said the store was busy but had fully stocked the items people shopped for preceding storm events. In addition to the basics and snacks and drinks, the store had ordered extra catfood. The staff had learned through experience, “People in Greencastle take care of their cats,” Phillips-Brown said with a laugh.

Food Lion closed two hours early on Friday and was open 10 hours on Saturday instead of its usual 18. By Sunday everything was back to normal.

Get out of the way

Towing companies saw some extra activity due to the snow, but business didn’t increase as much as it does in minor weather changes.

“There was enough media hoopla,” said Bobby Alger from Cunningham’s Body Shop, 12719 Williamsport Pike. “Everyone stayed home. They weren’t out driving.”

He had a couple calls but basically it was a quiet weekend.

Andy Shanholtz, Hicks Towing Service, 650 N. Antrim Way, got calls from Pennsylvania State Police when vehicles were in the plow lane. “It was mostly stuff sitting on the side of the road that shouldn’t have been there,” he said.

The vehicles were brought back to the Hicks lot and owners started claiming them Monday morning. Shanholtz said none were too upset. “They understand there’s going to be a tow fee.”

He also had a few calls for jump starts and pulling vehicles out of snowbanks.

Alger added that lighter storms cause more problems for drivers. “The little ones get you more. People get out there in their four-wheel drives and are fearless.”

No snow day

Because the snow essentially fell on the weekend, students in the Greencastle-Antrim School District did not really get a day off. The administration announced Thursday that the schools would close early Friday. At the school board meeting that night, when questioned what people would think if the snow bypassed the area, Superintendent Greg Hoover said if the closing was what it took to cancel a storm, he would do it every time.

By Monday morning roads were passable, but black ice was a concern. Schools in Franklin County started on a two-hour delay.

The stats

Wertime characterized the snowfall as failing to reach a record status of any kind. “This was strictly a snow event. It was small flakes, wet and sticky.”

With the standard measure one inch of liquid to 10 inches of snow, the Feb. 5 and 6 ratio was lighter, meaning only 1.55 inches of liquid equivalent came out of the storm, said Wertime.

In comparison, the area received about 20 inches of snow in mid-February 1983. In January 1994 extreme cold temperatures followed 16 inches of snow, and in 1996 the 28 inches of snow at one shot resulted in a heavier ratio, 1:7, or four inches of liquid.

To date in 2010, Greencastle has recorded 24.1 inches of snow. Last week, snow began falling on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 9 a.m., more heavily in the afternoon, and lasted until midnight. The accumulation was 4.40 inches. January saw 2.90 inches.

December 2009 brought residents 23.92 inches to shovel. Add to that the January and February totals, and everyone has had the opportunity to move slightly over 48 inches of snow this winter.

And the forecast calls for more white stuff this week.

Mike Garland, facilities manager for the high school, was still clearing sidewalks at dusk on Saturday.