100-year old blizzard repeating itself? Check out stories from the early 1900s

Published 11:25 am Monday, January 15, 2018

It appears the blizzard of 100 years ago is repeating itself with the frigid temperatures and snow storms being experienced from north to south.

The January 1918 Advocate headline sounds the same as those in recent news:

“Freak storm starting in Lower Louisiana sweeps with terrific force North and East.

Email newsletter signup

“Rain, sleet and snow augmented by strong wind does great damage through the Ohio Valley.”

A blizzard that reached Danville Jan. 12, 1918, drove the bottoms from thermometers with a capacity of not more than 20 degrees below zero a freak in weather annals.

The storm started in new Orleans and moved eastward through Alabama, Tennessee and reaching Central Kentucky and the Ohio Valley between 6 p.m. and midnight.

It did great damage to livestock. People feeding cattle are experiencing trouble in feeding and getting feed to the cattle.

The storm was accompanied by a lively gale which increased in velocity until 88 miles was registered when the storm struck Buffalo, N.Y.

The official reading in Danville was 15 below zero at 7 a.m. and hung around that mark until 11 a.m. when it rose to 10 below.

Louisville was 15 degrees below 0 with a big snow.

Junction City reached 18 below and Perryville reported 20 degrees below zero.

With the exception of the  cold spell in 1899, this is the coldest on record.

The weather in February the same year it was 20 below zero in Lexington and from 22 to 24 below zero in Danville, but either is cold enough to prevent a “heated” argument, the Advocate reported.

Danville practically faced a coal famine but it was averted.

A canvass of Danville coal dealers showed one dealer had a limited amount of coal and four dealers were without any coal.

The outlook from a transportation official was not promising, as even passenger trains due here yesterday arrived in Danville between midnight and sunup.

As the blizzard continues, scores of cases of frostbite and suffering are caused by the worst cold spell in years.

The Advocate reported that the worst weather the city has experienced in memory of many of the oldest inhabitants. The snow had been shoveled off sidewalks many times a day. During the night, the temperatures fell to 17 degrees below zero, causing water pipes to freeze.

As temperatures fell, it brought cutting winds sweeping through the city and driving pedestrians from the streets, causing frostbite and intense suffering among those with coal for warmth. Businesses were at a standstill.

Trains were running behind schedule and mail was arriving to late for delivery.

Feed the birds

The Advocate ran a reminder Jan. 22, 1918, to its customers to feed the birds during cold and snowy weather.

“While the snow has covered the earth and cut off the food supply of birds, only sportsmen of true type and citizens with hearts of the right character are giving any attention to quail, songsters and other birds, and the poor little things are starving.

It’s a poor household, indeed, where something cannot be found to throw to the birds, and it is hoped that they will be remembered, especially right now.

“If you know of any quail left from last fall’s hunting season, it will  not take much of your time to throw them some food. Try it.”

Farmers have problems

Farmers feeding cattle are greatly inconvenienced. It’s nearly impossible to get feed to the cattle, and many reports of farmers and farm hands having ears, feet, hands and faces frozen.

In some instances, farmers have started to town with light buggies or buckboards, and even horse-back and were forced to turn back and those who were bound to come for medicine and other important business, like getting their mail or some “chawn’ and spittin’ tobacco, were forced to walk.

Telephone and telegraph lines were down or damaged.

Fighting delayed in Europe

Winter has settled down in earnest over all the important war fronts, and beyond artillery actions that are being carried out over very limited sections, there had been little fighting either in the West or East, the Advocate reported Jan. 15, 1918.

Only patrol encounters are reported along the British lines, and artillery action at two points on the French front.

The terrific artillery and infantry fighting in Italy has given away to aerial warfare, although it is spectacular, has little direct bearing on the progress of the campaign when confined to combats between individuals and squadrons.

The France and Belgium front has been almost snowbound most of January. The long awaited German offensive with the heavy reinforcements which Germany transferred from the Russian front to the west has been delayed for weeks and months.