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Give me a (spring) break!

April snow and sleet surprise

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>April snow coats the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    April snow coats the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Footprints can be seen in the April snow on Bridge of Flowers Friday.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Footprints can be seen in the April snow on Bridge of Flowers Friday.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Dealing with snow, sleet, rain and fog tree service workers use a portable stump grinder to remove a crab apple tree stump from the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls during Friday's unexpected wintery mix.

    Recorder/Paul Franz
    Dealing with snow, sleet, rain and fog tree service workers use a portable stump grinder to remove a crab apple tree stump from the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls during Friday's unexpected wintery mix.

  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>April snow coats the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Footprints can be seen in the April snow on Bridge of Flowers Friday.
  • Recorder/Paul Franz<br/>Dealing with snow, sleet, rain and fog tree service workers use a portable stump grinder to remove a crab apple tree stump from the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls during Friday's unexpected wintery mix.

Around the county, people looked out of their windows Friday, and uttered an all-too-familiar four-letter word.

Snow.

Friday’s wintry weather came as a shock to many, and kept emergency workers busy as cars slid off the road, one after another.

State troopers working out of the Shelburne barracks responded to a dozen crashes between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Most of them were minor spin-outs due to slick pavement, though one occupant of a vehicle that rolled over on Interstate 91 in Deerfield had to be taken to Baystate Franklin Medical Center, according to police. Another rollover, on Williamsburg Road in Ashfield, left the driver shaken, but unharmed.

Troopers in the Athol barracks said they’d responded to about 10 accidents, though none of them involved injuries. Over in Montague, police dispatchers said there were no reported accidents Friday afternoon in their town, though their radio chattered with reports of crack-ups all around them.

While Friday’s weather was out of the ordinary, it wasn’t unheard of. Though the day’s accumulation began to melt in the afternoon as sleet and snow gave way to rain, April snows have piled high in years past.

On April 6, 1982, when this reporter was just a month old, the county’s hilltowns were hammered with up to 25 inches of snow, and Greenfield saw 18.

Then, too, according to a Recorder article, troopers in the Shelburne and Athol barracks were busy, reporting “scores of cars and trucks off area roadways.” None of those accidents were serious, according to the article.

Shelburne’s troopers, it says, “didn’t even bother to count” how many cars had to be winched out of snow banks in that storm 31 years ago.

“I should have driven my snowmobile to work this morning,” Jeanne Johnson told the Recorder, as she shovelled out her Federal Street, Greenfield beauty salon after that storm.

An April 8, 1956 storm dropped a foot of wet, heavy snow on the county, taking down utility wires, taking out phone and electrical service in a dozen Franklin County towns, and causing traffic jams. In that storm, the hilltowns were spared, and saw less snow than Greenfield’s 12 inches.

Leyden’s former highway superintendant, Henry Glabach, had to send a diesel tractor out to save a stranded plow truck, he told the Recorder nearly 60 years ago.

An April 13, 1950 snowstorm dropped a foot of snow on the hilltowns.

Three years prior, on April 20, 1947, a foot of snow fell on Rowe, and, down in Hawley, plows had a hard time pushing 10 inches of snow off the town’s dirt roads, which had already turned to mud earlier in the month.

Those are just some of the bigger April snowstorms the county has weathered. April of 2008 brought a dusting of snow, two 2007 storms dropped a combined three inches, and two storms brought 3.5 inches in 2003. April snows were also reported in 1979, 1974, 1974, 1971, 1962, 1961, 1955, and 1945, ranging from a quarter-inch to 8 inches.

Friday, an optimistic sign outside of Tire Warehouse, on Federal Street, read “Is it spring? Yes it is spring! Take off your snow tires soon!”

“Soon” would be the operative word.

Though most would agree that it’s time for warm weather and sunny skies, we’re not out of the woods yet. Those who were around in May of 1945 might remember a storm that brought two inches of snow to the county, though storms in that very-merry month are rare.

Still, this reporter plans to keep his snow scraper in his car until June, just to be safe.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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