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Historic snow, downed mailboxes and the jet stream

This snow couple, which came to life on Callicoon Road in Damascus Township, PA, doesn’t appear to mind all that snow.
TRR photo by Amanda Reed

By Fritz Mayer
February 19, 2014

UPPER DELAWARE RIVER VALLEY — Just in case it escaped anyone’s attention, it has snowed more than usual over the past couple of weeks. In Scranton, for the period between February 1 and February 15, the normal snowfall amount is about five inches; this year the total was 24.4 inches. In New York City’s Central Park, the normal is also five inches, and this year the total was 27.3 inches.

In Sullivan County, NY, there is normally 15.7 inches of snow for the entire month, and we blew past that mark early on in the second big snowfall of the month.

There is talk among weather watchers that the reason for the extended period of cold weather and snow has to do with the weakening of the jet stream because of warmer temperatures in the arctic. The theory says that the weaker jet stream allows weather patterns to remain in place longer. But like most things even tangentially connected to climate change, this theory is a bit controversial.

Whatever the reason, the weather is causing townships, towns, villages and counties to bust their plowing and sanding budgets, and schools are facing extra days in June to make up for the many snow days.

Mail boxes in Texas Township

Snow plowing was a topic of conversation at the Texas Township meeting in Pennsylvania on February 17. Resident Georgette Pascotto, who ran for the position of supervisor in 2011, said that four mailboxes between her home on Fords Road and Route 6 had been knocked over or nearly so by a snow plow.

She said, “That seems like an inordinate amount of damage to mailboxes with this plowing, and I’d like to know what can be done.”

Supervisor Allan Wickle, who is also the roadmaster and operates the snowplow, said, “Look at Route 6; the state’s got a whole pile of them, too. You’ve got tons of snow going off the end of that plow, and if the mailboxes are on a couple of popsicle sticks,” they won’t survive the plow.

Pascotto said, “I think some of these mail boxes were actually hit not with snow but with the plow itself, and maybe it’s a matter of going a little bit slower.”

Wickle replied, “I don’t think I’ve hit a mailbox with a plow yet.” Regarding speed, he added a bit later, “I’ve got to get that snow going, if you go slow it just rolls right back down into the road.”

Pascotto said she thought it would be costly for the township because the township would have to pay for the damage.

Supervisors Chair Don Doney said that was not his understanding, because the mailboxes are located in the right-of-way.