From 10/22/05 Johnstown Tribune-Democrat newspaper....
Snow may begin flying next week
By JULIE BENAMATIjbenamati@tribdem.com
The region could see the first signs of Old Man Winter early next week as forecasters predict wet snow on Monday night or early Tuesday.
With the chance of snow flying earlier than usual, some local hardware stores are seeing the start of winter preparations.
John Feerick, a meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, said there have been times when the region has seen the flakes before mid-October.
"It seems early, but at this point in the year, our average high temperatures are really starting to crash," Feerick said. "Our average highs have been in the lower 60s. But by early next week, they're getting to the lower 40s."
He does not expect to see any accumulation.
"Monday's surface temps will be too warm, in the lower 40s," Feerick said. "The snow is not going to be a big deal."
Some of the highest elevations could see slippery spots but, in general, the region should expect a light, melting snow.
AccuWeather has forecast lower-than-average temperatures for this year's winter season, and a slightly above-average snowfall.
"Right now, for the Johnstown area, we're predicting average temps 2 to 3 degrees below average, and slightly above-average snowfall," Feerick said.
He said the city of Johnstown averages about 55 inches of snow per winter season, but the airport area and nearby higher elevations average about 90.
"Johnstown could see 55 to 70 inches this year," Feerick said.
Mike Strollo, owner of Strollo's home improvement on Bigler Avenue, Northern Cambria, said the hint of snow hasn't increased business - yet.
"The people notoriously wait until they can walk through (the snow)," Strollo said. "I can't blame them, because the weather is so unpredictable."
But Strollo said his customers are not ignoring the threat of higher heating costs.
"They are just now realizing it's going to get cold, and they're buying what they can afford to supplement their oil and gas bills," Strollo said. "My customers are choosing $30 to $50 electric heaters instead of wood or propane, because that's the cheapest way out right now."
Paul Coughenour, owner of Somerset Outdoor Equipment, 312 S. Center Ave., Somerset, has seen many more chainsaws go out of his door recently than in past years.
"I've sold chainsaws for people who are planning to cut wood to supplement their heat," Coughenour said. "I understand there will be more people buying firewood this year than ever before."
He also has seen a run on snowblowers.
"We've had quite a few people looking and several people buying snowblowers already," he added. "I'm quite pleased with that, and I hope it's not a one-shot deal."
Coughenour said customers are disagreeing with forecasters, though, and are resorting to old tales for predictions.
"Last week, a customer told me he saw three solid-black woolly worms, and that's an indication of a hard winter," Coughenour said. "I've also heard that if you have a year with a lot of acorns, that's another indication."
Coughenour said he has seen a lot of acorns this year.
"I don't usually buy into (the tales)," he said. "But I guess we're in for it this year."