Isobar talks weather 12.31.08

By DAVID GREEN

First came the snow, then the ice and finally the wind. It was a wacky few days of weather—what forecasters refer to as a wintry mix.

It could have been a lot more snow, said Morenci climate observer George Isobar, but the warmer weather derailed that.

“We still had a white Christmas,” Isobar said, “but it was a pretty slick covering of snow.”

It started off with 3.2 inches of snow Dec. 16 and then a couple more inches two days later. But that changed to freezing rain and sleet and finally to a shower of ice balls Dec. 19.

“We would have had about 10 inches of snow if all of that had come down as flakes,” Isobar said. “But that was just the beginning.”

In Christmas week, more than sixth-tenths inches of precipitation fell—a mix of snow, rain and freezing rain.

“That could have been another six inches of snow,” Isobar said.

Finally, another inch of rain fell Friday and Saturday to melt off all the snow and take the area back to green grass.

“We had about 2.6 inches of precipitation all together during those 10 days,” he said. “Theoretically, that could have brought about 26 inches of the white stuff. But theoretical snow doesn’t amount to much.”

The freezing rain and melting and refreezing left streets coated with a thick layer of ice and several automobile accidents. The Morenci Fire Department was called to assist Wauseon with a trailer fire, but the lead truck out soon discovered State Route 108 blocked by vehicles that had lost control on the slick surface.

If only it had stopped there, Isobar said. The weekend melt was accompanied by wind with gusts at least into the 50 miles an hour range.

This area got off easy, with the exception of Larry and Karen Kast. They were awakened at 4 a.m. Sunday by a loud crashing sound.

They were unable to find the cause in the darkness, but eventually Karen discovered tree branches covering the sliding door on the back porch.

That’s when they learned that a large maple in the neighboring yard toppled onto their house, first punching a hole in the roof of the Kast house, then rolling and coming to rest on the back corner of the house.

“It was an usual ending to the year,” Isobar said. “There were even tornado warnings not too far from this area.”

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