Feb. 21—My family lived in Grand Island, N.Y., for two years in the mid-1990s, while I served as the editor of the Niagara Gazette newspaper.
One of the things we quickly discovered once we'd moved to this island between Buffalo and Niagara Falls was that from late November through at least late March, it pretty much snowed or threatened to snow every day.
At the advice of our new neighbors, we hired a guy to come to plow our driveway whenever two inches or more fell. I've often joked since that he was at our home so often he felt like part of the family.
Part of the reason for that, we learned, was lake effect snow. According to the National Weather Service, lake effect snow "occurs when cold air, often originating from Canada, moves across the open waters of the Great Lakes. The air rises, clouds form and grow into a narrow band that produces 2 to 3 inches of snow per hour or more."
Indeed it does, and did, throughout our two long winters living there.
You could be driving without a flake one minute, and be in a near-blizzard the next. I always remember the time when my son's youth ice hockey game concluded around 5 p.m., just in time for us to head to Buffalo for a Sabres NHL game. The drive started on dry roads. By the time we reached Buffalo — about a half-hour away — we were dealing with almost a foot of snow, thanks to the air over Lake Erie.
We hadn't seen daily snow or threat of snow like that since those days in western New York until this year.
We'd previously never thought seriously of joining the people who head south to escape the winter. This year, though, it's beginning to seem like an idea worth considering.
Stories about snow, school delays, etc. have joined those about COVID-19 and the vaccine as the most well-read (and most often published) on The Daily Item website this winter.
My colleague Bill Bowman, who has two kids in the Danville school system, is the one responsible for posting the school delays and closings that you'll find almost daily these days at the top of our website and app.
On Friday morning, Feb. 19, he told me that the metrics on his computer showed he had updated the school delays and closings list 76 times just since Feb. 14.
Snow days aren't what they used to be now that the pandemic has shifted so much of education to online. But there are still updates to district plans to be posted almost daily and Bill does an amazing job keeping Valley parents and students informed.
It could be a lot worse, of course. We're not in Texas. Overall, I think PennDOT and most Susquehanna Valley municipalities have done a good job keeping up with all this snow.
And, unlike the pandemic, I am fairly sure we can count on all of this snow stuff ending in the not too distant future.
Today would be a good time to start.
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