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Snow? We ice skated both ways. Uphill.

Published Wednesday, January 31, 2024 @ 5:07 AM EST
Jan 31 2024

As we prepare to welcome February, let's remember a candidate for the worst January of the mid-to-late 20th century.

January, 1994 was a meteorological disaster. The month started off with a blizzard that dumped roughly two feet of snow in the Pittsburgh area, followed by a brief stint of slightly warmer temperatures which, instead of relief, changed the snow into rapidly accreting ice and freezing rain. The hilarity peaked on January 19, when the temperature dipped to -22°F, a record for the city that still stands today.

The frosty precipitation completely coated roads throughout the area, and my family and neighbors were "iced in" for two days. I called the township and told them, tersely, "My daughter is ice skating on the street in front of our house." "Do you want the plow and salt truck?" they asked. "No," I growled, "Send the Zamboni. The ice is getting rough."

My snark was unfair and I later apologized; everyone was caught by surprise. Salt trucks and snow plows were indeed promptly dispatched, but even winterized vehicles have trouble maneuvering- and especially stopping- on sheets of ice. And South Park Township is mostly comprised of steep hills and sharp curves.

As my daughter Sara cruised around on her skates, her brother Doug and their friend Rocco spread the limited amount of salt a neighbor had provided and cleared a small portion of the driveway to the front door. They were teens in high school at the time and had the necessary physical stamina and the enthusiasm of youth to more or less enjoy the situation.

More significantly, our kiddos have, since 2004, crushed their grandparents' and great-grandparents' oft-told tales of how bad the weather was in "the old days". Pittsburgh's highest wind gust (83 mph, 1992), coldest day (-22°F, 1994), hottest day (103°F, 1988), rainiest day (5.95", 2004), and snowiest day (23.6", 1993) have all occurred since 1988. (1950 holds the record for the largest snow storm (27.4"), but the greatest one-day snowfall was the 23.6" in the '93 blizzard.)

So, if you're 36 or older, you have lived through the wildest extremes of Pittsburgh weather. And survived.

Tell Pappap and Meemaw to stick a sock in it.

Categories: KGB Family, South Park Township, PA, Weather


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