How Much Snow? Would You Believe ...? No? How About ...? Rumors Fly
KELLY P. KISSEL
Jan. 27, 1994
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) _ Tired of listening to official forecasts of snow and cold? Some people are turning to the rumor mill, where descriptions of a storm heading for the Northeast this weekend are growing like icicles.
Did you hear it was going to snow 2 feet? Did you hear 5? Did you hear 7?
''It's gone from the realm of rumor to something akin to fantasy,'' said Fred Gadomski, a Penn State University meteorologist.
''The rumors have gotten out of hand, the amounts of 4 or 5 feet in places where record snowfalls are 2 1/2 feet,'' said forecaster Ken Reeves of Accu- Weather Inc., the private weather service based in State Colelge.
Meteorologists agree that snow - maybe up to 2 feet in isolated locations - is due across parts of the Northeast on Sunday.
The rumors of deeper accumulations began Wednesday, and the National Weather Service and private forecasters have no idea where they originated.
''I heard it was going to be bigger than the blizzard of 1993,'' when 24 to 30 inches fell, said Nancy Ulrich of U&I Hardware and Building Supplies in Millheim.
''I was told, and I don't remember by whom, that we were going to get 2 feet of snow on Sunday night,'' said A'ndrea Messer, who works in the public information office at Penn State.
''Then somebody said it was going to be 2 or 3 feet. Then somebody mentioned 50 inches and said they saw it on The Weather Channel,'' Messer said.
The Weather Channel, however, was not predicting a specific total for any location.
Gadomski said rumors he has heard ranged from 30 to 50 inches, and he heard one report of up to 7 feet.
''There's no doubt there will be a significant weather system develop and hit Pennsylvania on Sunday, but 7 feet? That's a little bold,'' said Weather Channel forecaster Jim Wilson.
Other forecasters could be heard laughing in the background after he spoke.
Some rumor-spreaders, asked to name their sources, tried to blame The Farmers Almanac, but its predictions for Sunday and Monday mention only cold for southeast Pennsylvania, freezing rain and snow in the north and snow then seasonable conditions in the southwest.
Gadomski said he could understand the reasons behind the rumors.
''Everybody can measure the snow without any special instrumentation. You feel it, and its results stay around,'' Gadomski said. ''Snow amounts we can relate to. We have to shovel it.''
In the world of real weather Thursday:
- Roads were icy and snowcovered from the Plains across the upper Mississippi Valley and the Ohio Valley to the East Coast. States with school closings included Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia.
Icy roads at Grand Rapids, Mich., even canceled the Ice Speed Skater's meet. There was ''too much ice out there,'' the group said in a statement.
- Ice jams on streams caused flooding in some Pennsylvania communities.
- Poor visibility in blowing snow delayed some arriving flights an average of 30 minutes at Denver's Stapleton airport, but most flights were on time, said spokesman Steve Klodt. Ice caused some cancellations at Chicago's O'Hare and one runway was closed for a short time after a cargo plane's nose wheel slid off the pavement. Newark, N.J., closed two of three runways, and delays of about two hours were reported on some inbound flights.
- The latest wave of cold air brought below-zero temperatures to parts of the Northeast. In northern New York state, Crown Point fell to 48 below and Hagaman reported 40 below. Montpelier, Vt., had a record 30 below zero and Concord, N.H., hit a record 27 below.
- Along the southern side of the cold and snow, 4 to 8 inches of rain fell across Louisiana, washing out a railroad and derailing a freight train, flooding roads and a few homes, and closing schools.