Depending on how you feel about snow (or your job), we were either blessed or cursed with some snow last week. It was estimated that about 2-3 inches fell on Geary County last week, welcoming the New Year. Although 2-3 inches might seem like quite a bit of snow for some, this pales in comparison to some of the bigger snow storms that have hit the Geary County area. Now that we are officially in winter, let’s take a look at some of the biggest snowstorms and temperature drops in Geary County history.
Perhaps the biggest snowstorm in the history of the county occurred on Saturday, April 3rd, 1920. The snow had been reported to have been falling for 24 hours straight before it stopped. After a day full of snowing, an estimated 3 feet of snow had fallen on top of what had previously been 6 inches of melted snow and ice from the previous days. These records might be a bit exaggerated since there were not exact measurements, but the devastation was felt in Geary County.
This made it impossible for cars or human feet to travel anywhere around town. Everyone in town was trapped in doors, which caused a mini-panic since April 4th happened to be Easter Sunday. It’s hard to tell whether or not many people who were left stranded attended church, but from the ads that were being run in the Saturday edition of the Daily Union, services in all churches were being held. This had been the worst storm recorded in the area since Junction City officially became incorporated in 1859.
There doesn’t have to be a large amount of snow for there to be freezing cold temperatures. The blizzard of January 1885 was an example with reports of temperatures hitting 25º below zero. While there was quite a bit of snow that hit the entire western half of the state, Junction City received very little. The temperature in 1885 was enough to shut down the entire city, “Telegraph wires were all down and communication with the outside world has been entirely cut off since Thursday morning. Business has been almost entirely suspended and travel was [deemed] unsafe.”
The snowstorm of February 1926 seemed to leave the city as crippled as the snowstorm of 1920. In the February 25 edition of the Daily Union, the newspaper told of just how bad the streets in Junction City had gotten, “the big snow of Wednesday night drifted the roads so badly, that twenty-five cars were stuck Thursday between here and the county line on the ‘South Forty’ paving west of town….By late Thursday afternoon the caterpillar tractor and snow plow owned by the county had pushed though the seven foot drifts near Witts, and pulled six cars out of the drifts…”
Streets were so bad during the 1926 snowstorm that cars could not be used. The people of Junction City got smart and found a different form of transportation that helped them get around town after the blizzard, “ever since the big blizzard of Thursday, old Dobbin [the horse] has replaced the motor car for a great deal of Geary County’s transportation. Particularly as a means of conveying youngsters to school and the back of the horse has come in very handy.”
In the winter of 1983, Geary County witnessed 17 inches of snowfall. This single snowfall made it impossible for any vehicle to travel on I-70. This was made apparent when on February 3rd, 1983, the Daily Union reported that due to the impassible conditions on the interstate, many grocery stores in town were running out of the essential food items such as bread and milk. “Both Falley’s Market and Dillon’s have run out of bread, according to both store managers, with Dillon’s also running low on milk.”
Many people were unable to make it to work for several days and kids had been out of school for at least 3 days. But as always, the Junction City mail would not be hindered by the weather, “about 95% of the city received their mail service delivery on Wednesday, except for the ‘really bad areas’ such as Rockledge and Rockwell streets…”
For a bit of recent history, the snowiest month on record for Geary County was set just 7 years ago in Dec of 2009 when 17.2 inches of snow fell. Before that the record had been 14 total inches in February of 2004. In February of 2014, the single largest single snowfall event occurred in the county when 10.5 inches of snow fell on Geary County. That single snowfall made it the third snowiest month. We might have had a quiet winter so far, but historically the biggest snowfalls come during the first few months of the year.
Of course we couldn’t tell the story of all the snowstorms in the area, so if you have any stories or pictures you would like to share with the Geary County Historical Society, please feel free to stop by and share them with us. We’re open Tuesday-Saturday, 1-4 PM!
This picture was taken at 7th and Washington on Easter Sunday April 4th 1920