Some people use the woolly bear caterpillar with its 13 distinct segments of black and reddish-brown for predicting the severity of the upcoming winter. Other people have been known to use pig spleens as indicators. Berryville, it seems, may have a new indicator for snowfall this season.
If you drive through Berryville you may have noticed some of the fire hydrants in town are sporting a new look. The new additions that adorn some of the hydrants are a stark reminder of the avalanche of snow our area received last year and represent a safety precaution in case of a repeat.
The Reflective Hydrant Markers are four feet long and are attached to the hydrant to allow snow removal crews to locate the hydrant to make sure they are accessible to fire crews in case of emergency. When attached to the top of the hydrant the four foot long marker extends to an approximate height of six feet. Barring a string of historic snow storms, the hydrants will be visible. However, if you look out your window and don’t spy one of these candy caned striped markers on the hydrant for your neighborhood, don’t be alarmed. The town is installing the markers where they are most needed. Town manger Keith Dalton said, “Public works personnel are installing the markers in areas in which they have had trouble locating hydrants in the past. Intersections are of particular concern of course.”
After the heavy snow fall last winter the town installed 25 markers which the town manager said worked well. This year they have added 25 additional markers thus far and will be installing another 20 over the next few weeks for a total of 70 marked hydrants when the job is complete.
Should we be concerned? Is this a sign of things to come?
NOAA’s prediction for this winter is not much of a prediction at all. The National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts, and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA’s models predict equal chances for above, near, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic this year.
Last winter’s El NiÃ±o contributed to record-breaking rain and snowfall in some parts of the country. This year La NiÃ±a has formed in the Pacific and although it is the opposite of El NiÃ±o, it also has the potential to bring weather extremes to parts of the nation. Winter weather for our region is driven less by La NiÃ±a and more by weather patterns over the northern Atlantic Ocean and Arctic. These are often more short-term, and are generally predictable only a week or so in advance. If enough cold air and moisture are in place, areas north of the Ohio Valley and into the Northeast could see above-average snowfall this season.
So our area will have to wait and see (Is that actually a forecast?).
The first day of winter this year falls on December 21. Will we see a major snow fall this winter season? Maybe we should have a look at those woolly worms…