SHIPPENSBURG — Shippensburg area residents certainly had a January for the record books.
Timothy Hawkins, geography and Earth science professor and graduate program coordinator at Shippensburg University, said three daily low temperature records were set, and the month was the fifth-coldest January since 1932 with an average temperature of 22.6 F.
In addition, 8 inches of snow fell during the month.
“It’s definitely been a tough January,” said Kevin Plasterer, Shippensburg Borough’s street foreman.
Plasterer said he and his crews put in many long hours because of “nuisance snows” and colder than normal temperatures.
“We’d get small stuff ... an inch here or a dusting there, and then we’d have to salt,” he said. “The salt doesn’t work well below 20 degrees, so we’d either have to use extra salt or wait for vehicles to travel and activate it.
“The small stuff causes more usage of salt and antiskid than a 6-inch snowstorm would.”
Still, many people say winters used to be much worse.
Helen Fulton, 97, of Shippensburg, remembers winters that were so cold a cup of water would freeze on the kitchen table.
“I well remember cold weather like this,” she said. “We lived in the country in a big, old farmhouse. We heated with a wood stove (during the day) ... but if we left a cup of water on our kitchen table (at night) it would freeze until morning.” She also remembers “roads filled with snow clear up to the top of the fence posts.”
Jeane Eshenmann, 89, also remembers plenty of cold weather and snows.
“I’ve made the remark that I don’t want anybody to tell me we don’t have winters like we used to,” she said with a laugh. “I guess we don’t get as much snow. My dad used to say they could get the sleigh out and go over the fences.”
Eshenmann said she’s also heard lots of “old-timers’ tales” about walking to school in the snow.
“Personally, I think it is too cold — (but) I think we are spoiled,” Fulton said. “For years and years, we had very little snow and mild temperatures.”
Shippensburg Mayor Bruce Hockersmith agrees.
“I don’t find this to be any more unusual than winters we’ve had in the past — other than we’re getting greater fluctuations in the temperatures,” he said. “One day it’s 45, and the next day it’s in the teens.
“I can remember one year we had this long freeze and had water mains frozen in the ground up at Park Heights. We dug them up and built charcoal fires to get them to thaw out, and the following year we lowered the lines.”
Hockersmith said he also remembers significant snowfalls.
“I think we had a big snow in 1995 or 1996,” he said. “I remember it was close to 3 feet — and on a Psalm Sunday in March, around 1945, we had close to 3 feet of snow.
“In the early 1950s, I can remember when the Mainsville Road was drifted shut. It was before (Interstate) 81 (was built), and you had to drive through a field. They had a shed fire in Mainsville, and the equipment couldn’t get through. Winter’s winter, and you can expect anything.”