Frozen in place

Published 11:35 am Friday, January 31, 2014

FRANKLIN—It was not only cold Thursday morning, but the -4 reading at 6:55 a.m. could be a record for the area, according to Aaron Graham, a National Weather Service trained weather spotter for the area.

Graham did the recording at the Franklin Airport.

“The lowest I could find was 6 on Jan. 22, 1995,” he said.

Lyle Alexander, meteorologist with The National Weather Service in Wakefield, said he couldn’t confirm that it was a record, but only because the Wakefield office didn’t have data for Franklin going back far enough.

He did add, though, that at Suffolk Municipal Airport, the temperature of -4 was the coldest near Downtown Suffolk since 1985, when a reading of -5 degrees was recorded at Lake Kilbyw.

“We don’t have anything to go back on for that,” said Alexander. “Be assured, though, that it was probably the coldest since some time in the ‘80s or ‘90s.”

The most extreme reading in the area was near the Great Dismal Swamp, where it was -9, Alexander added.

“Usually when you have extreme readings, you also have extreme variability from area to area,” he said.

Local historian Clyde Parker, of Franklin, said he couldn’t remember a day that was colder than this in the area.

“I don’t recall any day that was colder than this, other than when I was in Switzerland,” he said. “It was around 0 degrees most of the time I was there, usually a few below.”

He said there was a snowstorm in the mid-1980s, but he said it didn’t get as cold

“I remember we had a blizzard back in the early ‘80s, and it was quite cold,” Parker said.

“As I recall, we had somewhere between 8 to 10 inches of snow, and behind that, another one came that was six inches or above.

“But it did not get this cold.”

While it wasn’t as cold, he said, there was a lot of snow.

“That was the year where somebody said we got more snow here than they did in Buffalo, N.Y., that winter,” he said. “I can’t attest to the accuracy, but it was said.”

He said the worst winter storm he has ever experienced was the ice storm in 1989.

“That was a terrible, terrible thing,” he said. “All of the trees were popping and snapping, it sounded like rifle shots going off all night long. People had power outages for up to a week.

“The persistence of our cold spell is the longest I’ve experienced, but I am sure the ice was worse, as far as inconvenience.”