Pat Shingleton: "Two Winter Stories..."
Just 30 days remain until the end of Winter. The first European settlers arrived in North America unprepared for the climate that awaited them. Harsh weather greeted these visitors to the New World with extreme cold and unbearable heat. In 1604, French explorers established a colony on an island in Maine's St. Croix River. The winter was so cold that they relocated to Nova Scotia. There were 105 colonists who settled at Jamestown, Va. Only 32 survived the famous Cold Winter of 1607-08. The winter of 1620-21 was reportedly mild, but only 50 of the 102 settlers of Plymouth, Mass. lasted until spring. By 1638, the first printing press arrived in Cambridge, Mass. and "Pierce's Almanac Calculated for New England" was printed. The almanac, which comes from the Arabic "al manaka" meaning "the reckoning," offered tables for tides and astronomical events. Besides the almanac, the only reading material was the Bible. In closing, "The storm paralyzed the entire Northeast, immobilizing everyone. New York and D.C. were cut-off from the rest of the country. Albany picked up 47 inches of snow and Troy, NY, recorded 55 inches. Trains inbound and outbound of New York City were foundered in drifted snow, paralyzing the the rail system. Ferry crossings were rendered impossible due to rough waters as the Brooklyn Bridge became Manhattan's last link with the outside world. Ice floes that were wedged together on the East River formed a tenuous crossing. Once the tide went out, the ice broke, leaving 100 trapped on the floes. As the snow tapered off, residents emerged from their homes and began the process of digging out.." These were excerpts from the "Old Farmer's Almanac, Acts of God" concerning the blizzard of 1888 where meteorologists claim a storm this size occurs once every four or five hundred years.