Originally appeared in the Bridgton News of February 2nd, 2022.
Well now, I’d say that that was a right proper storm we just had – what old-timers hereabouts would once have called a true ‘Pequawket Thaw.’ And if the news reports now coming in from our snowbound southern neighbors are anything to credit, it would seem that once again old New England showed her teeth through all the country round, hitting us with what I’m now hearing called ‘the storm of the decade,’ or other such grandstanding. I’m not so sure about that, but I will allow it was a true Nor-Easter of the old school, and I certainly count us lucky to be spared the ravages our countrymen on the midcoast no doubt endured. About two feet of snow fell there, and I hear Boston now sits under the most amount of snow they’ve ever received in one storm. So perhaps all those ‘once in a decade’ excited claims are warranted after all. In any case, all this talk of record breaking got me down to the vault on Sunday, to go through the back stacks of the News and see for myself what these olden storms used to bring. So today, as we all finish digging ourselves out of the drifts left by Saturday’s squall, let’s look back on the late January storms of 1935, when on Jan. 23rd a sever Nor’easter arrived, blew for two days, and dumped some 20 inches of snow on little old Bridgton, in what was then called the worst storm of 40 years. Top that I say! Our first article comes from the News of January 25th and describes the advent of the storm, and is followed by an article of February 1st, in which the total yearly snowfall is tallied and ranked against those of the preceding ten years. All good information for us to review today, I think, as we again take up our shovels and go about that old New England tradition of shaking our fists at the snowy streets, and talking afresh about how much better, or worse, it used to be back in ye olden days. Enjoy!
Biggest Storm for Years Ties Up Local Traffic
“The heavy storm which started early Wednesday evening and which is still raging as this is being written, Thursday noon, has tied up traffic in Bridgton and environs, demonstrating beyond a doubt the absolute necessity of more snow removal equipment for Bridgton, unless we want to go back to the old days when the roads were broken out with snow rollers and yokes of oxen attached to sleds. Starting early in the evening of Wednesday the storm, accompanied by a high wind, approached blizzard proportions by bedtime, with the big drifts being piled up in the highways and fields despite the many thousands of feet of snow fence erected to keep the snow out of the roads. The old town tractor was being overhauled but the truck plows were started out late in the afternoon when it became apparent that this section was in for one of the worst storms in many years. The plows managed to break a one way path through some of the main lines, but the snow was making faster than it could be removed.
The down train of the Bridgton and Harrison Railway Co. managed to get through to the Junction only because of the fact that precautions had been taken to shove the shoulders back from the track, and because the recent thaw had removed a considerable part of the snow which had fallen in a prior storm of the winter, but the railroad thru to Portland was in bad shape and in some sections practically impassible Wednesday night and until late afternoon Thursday… Many of the outlying farms and some of the houses on more travelled highways were practically isolated Thursday Noon because of the blocked highways. In case of a severe sickness or an emergency call, local physicians would find it almost impossible to respond, and the fire apparatus would not be able to get through in case of a fire.”
“Snow Record Past Decade (1926-35)
“The following communication from C. Edward Abbott is especially timely at this time, right after the big storm, the worst in 40 years, while everybody is comparing this winter with those which had gone before. The communication is self-explanatory and will be read with interest and possibly preserved by some of the ‘weather sharks’ for future comparison.
To the Editor of the Bridgton News;
While walking down street the other morning I overheard an argument about the weather – the amount of snow we have had this winter in comparison with the amount we had last winter and other winters, etc… One fellow said he would bet a dollar that we had more snow last winter up to ‘Now’ than we have had this winter. This conversation led me to look up my snow records which I would like to submit for the benefit of any who might be interested in anything like this. For the last ten years the snow record up to the present time (January 30th) is as follows.
Year Inches of Snow Number of Storms
1926 42 11
1927 38 9
1928 42 8
1929 44 16
1930 43 13
1931 33 9
1932 28 11
1933 21 12
1934 66 23
1935 84 13
The snow record for this winter (1935), up to the present, is as follows:
Oct. 11 – spit snow, no record. Oct. 12 – spit snow, no record. Oct 13 – 8 inches, in some parts of the State, 14 inches. Nov. 12 – 2 inches. Dec. 19 – 3 inches, turned to rain. Dec. 21 – 2 inches, very light. Dec. 26 – 3 inches, heavy with a S.E. driving rain at end of storm. Dec. 28 – 8 inches, N.E. storm, cold. Jan 1 – 15 inches, good old fashioned New England storm, and plenty of it. Jan. 8 to 11 – we had the heaviest rain fall for the time of year, in Maine, on record. Jan. 14 – 8 inches, very light. Jan 17 – 12 inches, very light. Jan. 20 – 3 inches, turned to a heavy rain. Jan 24 – 20 inches, worst storm in forty years. Jan 26 – 1 inch. Jan 28 – 2 inches.
We did have an unusually large amount of snow last winter and what made it seem more was so many storms, while this winter we have had more snow up to the present date, but only about half as many storms. This winter up to date we have had 84 inches of snow in 13 storms, while last winter we had 66 inches of snow in 23 storms. We have had 18 more inches of snow this winter, to date, what we had last winter. Added to this unusual record of snow are the facts that since snow time, we have had rains. As near as I can estimate the rain part, we have had over 4 inches since December 1st, which if it had been snow would have measured about 4 feet more snow.”
Till next time!