2014 kicks off on frigid note
by MARY L. KIRBY
Jan 09, 2014 | 1061 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Upshur County residents awoke Tuesday to widespread temperatures at 14 degrees or slightly higher. It was the coldest snap since February of 2011.

The cold front hit between 5 and 6 a.m. Sunday with temperatures rapidly dropping in the first hour from 58 degrees to 45 and not stopping the fall until hitting 15 in the predawn hours Monday.

Since the Arctic cold front which is assaulting the country was dry and windy when it got to Upshur County with only small amounts of rainfall reported between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., power outages did not result.

“We only had scattered outages,” said Doug Murphy of Upshur Rural Electric Cooperative Monday. “We dodged a bullet for the second time. We also dodged a bullet when we had no ice accumulations in December.”

For the sake of crops and plants, December was wet, thereby protecting them against shock, unlike 2011.

For the last five months of 2010, the airport reporting station recorded only 9.03 inches, with one inch falling in December. It was the start of the protracted drought, which led to the wildfire season of Labor Day 2011 and beyond.

While 2011 started cold in February, it also had three months, July, August, and September, when the temperature reached 109 degrees Fahrenheit. With that brutal hot, dry weather, conditions were ripe for any spark to create wildfires.

By contrast, 2013 had an unusually wet fall and winter, breaking that dry spell with 7.82 inches in September, 14.22 in October, 5.52 in November, and 4.57 in December. The total for 2013 was reported to be 57.86 inches, well above the normal annual rainfall of 47.55 inches.

As a result, 2013 finished out with a total exceeding 40 inches for the first time since 2009. The rains which came with the Equinox in September erased the risk of wildfires.

With the low temperatures already hitting the lowest in three years, one can wonder if the summer months will reach 109 each month as they did in 2011. One can also hope not, especially for the sake of our volunteer firefighters.
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