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Approaching Snow Plus Rain Could Spell Disaster

The good news is that the rain turned to snow early this past Sunday afternoon, and that probably averted more serious river flooding in the region. Conversely, for much of Bradford County and points north, there was a good foot-and-a-half of drifted snow on the ground that had barely started to melt by Tuesday afternoon when temperatures finally climbed above freezing.

The question is where is all that going to go with continued warmer temperatures and the prospect of rain at the end of the week?

Aside from closing all the schools in the Rocket-Courier coverage area, the late winter storm actually shut down all the Bradford County governmental offices. It even closed down the offices of the Guthrie Clinic. It was one of those rare occasions when the county was out of business for a day, and that includes the offices of the Magisterial District Judges, whose staffs are county employees.

Another rare occurrence wrought by the storm was a Declaration of Disaster Emergency for Bradford County Monday, with Public Safety Director Gary Wilcox reporting that the snow depth in the county, ranging from 12 to 28 inches, was to blame. However, he also called it "a precautionary measure for the predicted winter storm forecast for Wednesday or Thursday." As of Tuesday evening, that forecast is for mostly rain, though it was to start as snow or sleet Wednesday night, then turning into rain Thursday, with projected rainfall amounts between 1.5 and two inches throughout the day and overnight Thursday where temperatures are projected for 35 degrees at the lowest. Obviously a shift of a couple of degrees could turn it into sleet or snow at the end of the cycle, too.

The chance of rain or snow continues into Friday, but not in significant amounts by then.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported an official measurement of 20 inches of snow in Towanda from the 24-hour snowstorm as of mid-Monday morning. The reading in Athens was 18 inches, and that appears to be about the depth in much of the Wyalusing area, though there are no official measurements for this part of the county.

Once you drop into Wyoming County, the measured snow depths drop significantly. For instance, Meshoppen was on the NWS charts with 12 inches of snow and the deepest measured amount in Luzerne and Lackawanna Counties was 8.9 inches. The depth recorded in Scranton was five inches. In Susquehanna County, readings included 14 inches for Montrose and up to 17.5 in other parts of that county.

Across the New York State border in its Southern Tier, the depths climbed well into the twenties, and Oneida County reported measurements of between 25 and 27 inches. However, Chenango County just to the north with 17- to 18-inch readings was comparable to Bradford County.

Two major nuisance factors from the storm—factors in necessitating a two-hour delay in the Wyalusing Area School District on Tuesday morning—was the drifting of the snow and then the overnight freeze that complicated travel on secondary roads. The drifting was also a factor in why there were such variances of reported snow depths in the area.

As for Bradford County's Disaster Declaration, Wilcox explained that the county and its municipalities can then take corrective actions they might not otherwise be able to officially invoke and enable emergency management response and recovery measures.

Wilcox may be contacted at 570-250-8315 and Bradford County Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Barnes at 607-435-0603.

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