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The winter of 1917-18: a brutal season

"The twelfth day of 1918 'was probably the coldest and most disagreeable day experienced in a century'. . ." ("The Brutal Winter of 1917-1918," ; retrieved Janaury 12, 2018.)

By JIM

All the hype, hoopla, and near hysteria stirred up by the weather wizards over today's rather modest incoming winter storm gives pause for reflection over what the reaction today would be over a winter like that of 1917-1918, a truly brutal season.


A number of record low temperatures were recorded going back to the the summer of 1917; over the next several months, a series of cold fronts swept through, including a bitterly cold one that began early December and another on Christmas Eve that lingered well into January 1918; and snow seemed to fall without cessation. Many schools closed, merchants had few customers, and the wheels of justice turned even more slowly than usual.

Several brief mentions of the weather on the front page of the January 18, 1918 edition of the News gives a glimpse of that winter locally:

Snow fell here on the night of the 7th of December and the ground has not been clear since. During this time the weather has been extremely cold.

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Last Friday night was the coldest of the winter. Saturday morning [Janaury 14th] the mercury registered at 16 below zero.

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The "Beautiful" continues with us. When our people looked out Friday morning they discovered that a sufficient amount had fallen during the night to measure to a depth of four inches. This was the eleventh snow of the winter, and according to weather prognosticators, four more are yet to come. The twelfth came Sunday night.

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The snow storm that started last Friday afternoon and continued until late at night, blocked all travel. The Louisville mail failed to reach here and the star routes [rural mail delivery] were hung up. It was a bad time on stock. Cattle, that was not housed sufficiently, suffered greatly.

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The blizzard and frigid wave extended from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It was the coldest weather in thirty years. All over Kentucky the thermometers registered from 10 to 20 below zero.

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The high prices people have had to pay for wood this winter should be a warning, and teach them to lay in all the fuel they will need in the summer for the coming months.

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There is not a family in Columbia but can count wood as an extra big item of expense so far this winter. The haulers have received from $2.50 to $4.00 for two horse loads.

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E.L Feese, who is employed in this [the News] office, says that a blue streak of cold wind passed through the key hole of his door, and when it reached four feet in his apartment, it froze, and could have been used for a walking cane.


This story was posted on 2018-01-12 08:31:19
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