By Debra J. Groom
The letter “S” has been at the forefront of Oswego County residents’ minds of late.
It could stand for shivering — temperatures Friday Jan. 3 and Tuesday Jan. 7 were beyond cold. With wind chills, the mercury on Tuesday never made it to zero.
Can you say minus 25 degrees?
It was actually colder Friday, Jan. 3, but the wind chills were not as frigid. Temps that day got down to about minus 5 as residents cheered the lack of wind.
“S” also could stand for snow. As of Tuesday, Jan. 7, Fulton had 72 inches of snow for the season, said John Florek at the city’s water works, an official reporting station for the National Weather Service.
For the storm that hit the Oswego-Fulton area beginning Thursday, Jan. 2, through Friday, Jan. 3, Fulton got about 9 inches.
Weather observer Paul Cardinali measured 9 inches for that storm while Florek measured 9.8 inches.
William Gregway, who is a National Weather Service observer in Oswego, said the Port City saw about 13.5 for that storm.
But nothing in the county’s two cities even comes close to the northern part of the county -— namely the snow capital, Redfield.
Weather observer Carolyn Yerdon said the area already has topped 200 inches for the season — and it’s only the beginning of January.
“We are having a pretty wild winter so far — 224 inches and counting!” she said. “This is the most snow I have recorded in the past 18 years this early in the season.
“We should be headed for possibly a record breaking year if we can get over 420 inches, which is the current record (from 96-97 winter season),” Yerdon said.
The final “S” could stand for shoveling — something folks from Pulaski north have been doing more than they’d like.
After the Thursday-Friday storm of last week, a huge lake effect band swept off Lake Ontario Monday and didn’t move much for a couple of days.
Yerdon said another 17 inches fell in Redfield from 1 p.m. Monday to about 2 p.m. Tuesday and then another 5 inches came down Wednesday.
The season’s total is at 224 inches as of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7.
The bitter cold actually has been causing more problems for folks in the Fulton-Oswego area than the snow.
AAA reported on its website Tuesday afternoon that areas such as Fulton and Oswego had three-hour waits for service calls.
The same was true for the Interstate 81 corridor from Mexico to Adams Center in Jefferson County.
Cardinali said he recorded a high Fulton temperature on Jan. 7 of 6 degrees and a low of minus 2.
But with winds gusting up to 45 mph, Cardinali estimates wind chills in the minus 25 to minus 30 range.
“These were the coldest wind chills we’ve had since Jan. 17, 1982,” he said.
It was actually colder Jan 3, with a high of 8 and a low of minus 5. “But there was not as much wind,” Cardinali said.
On that bitter day, Fulton saw a high of minus 4, a low of minus 8 and winds more than 40 mph.