As the Northeast got pummeled with snow earlier this winter, I realized how much shoveling I would be doing if I still lived in Connecticut, where I grew up, or Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where I lived as a young adult. I was not at all sorry to miss out on all that snow.
Yesterday we finally got our own big snowfall, which shut down schools and even many businesses. Like most of my co-workers in the IT department, I worked from home today, using remote access to monitor my email and use the company intranet. When the connection got too slow to get anything useful done, I headed outside to shovel the walk.
As a girl I could never understand why adults treated shoveling as such unpleasant work. Sure, it was tiring, but I had plenty of energy. Now I scoop off the top several inches of snow in front of me, scoop off some more, take a swipe at the bottom few inches – and then take a quick break to catch my breath and straighten my back. Foot by foot, I clear a path, but I’m grateful for the teenage neighbor we’re paying to do the driveway (our own teenage son being five hours away at college – where, he tells me, the piles left by the snowplow reach his chest).
As I walk between knee-high walls of snow, I realize that this is more like the snow I remember from my youth than anything I’ve seen in a very long time. (We saw a lot of snow where I worked in northern Michigan for six years, but that was largely because it fell every day; we rarely got a foot of snow dumped overnight.)
For a long time I wondered if I remembered more snow in my childhood because older people always seem to remember the weather having been worse back then, or because the snow came up higher on me when I was smaller. Or because I grew up in Connecticut, and we simply couldn’t expect to get as much in the greater Philadelphia region.
But apparently there really was more snow in those decades. At the National Climatic Data Center website, you can look up snowfall records for the country as a whole and by state. For Connecticut, the year (from August to July) with the greatest snowfall was 1967. The 7-day snowfall record was in December 1970.
For Iowa, where I live now, the 7-day snowfall records and greatest monthly total were in 1968, and the greatest daily snow depth was in 1969. Granted, all the records are for a specific location within the state, and other parts may have had much less, but it seems likely that in the snowiest years, all parts of the state got more than in the years when no records were set.
I wonder if 2011 will show up in any of those records next year.