I was born 12 years after the great Appalachian Snow Storm of 1950. All my life, I have heard about this great weather event as anecdotal evidence that winter storms can happen in autumn. November is an outlier as far as weather goes in southern Ohio. Last year in 2019, our coldest days of the winter came “pre-winter” hitting single-digit temperatures. But 2020 has spared us any major snowfalls- at least so far. Seventy years ago, the story was different.
Thanksgiving 1950 fell on Thursday, November 23 and it was late on that day when Arctic cold blasted its way into the Ohio Valley. Temperatures that had been hovering around 50 degrees plunged into the teens and stayed there through Friday. According to AppalachianHistory.net, “a thin but heavy band of snow accompanied the dramatic temperature drop behind the front with as much as 7 inches falling across southeast Kentucky on the morning of the 24th.”
Southern Ohio including Scioto County was blanketed with up to 32 inches of snow by the Monday following the holiday. This was not only a challenging time because of the cold and snow that accompanies winter weather, but also because times had changed. This area was becoming more mobile.
As I stated, I wouldn’t be making my earth debut for 12 years but I have always heard about this weather event. My father was in high school (Rarden High School- now defunct, part of the Northwest School District.) and his family lived in the Mt. Joy area of Scioto County. Dad was the next to the youngest of 10 children, so his family had started branch out. Gone were the days when people stayed in their community their entire life. His brother and some of his sisters had moved to the Dayton area; being home for Thanksgiving, they ended up having an extended stay. Another aunt, Jenny (whom I’ve written about before) had managed to get back to Portsmouth to work before the snowstorm hit. There was very limited communication, so the family did not know how she was doing nor did she know what was going on back on Mt. Joy.
All ended well for the family, but it was an unusual time: a strange, crippling snowfall early in the year, families separated in ways that were uncommon at that time, and trying to maneuver distances without four-wheel drive vehicles all lead to an unusual weather event that the area lived through and continued to reminisce about for many years.
Great Appalachian Snow Storm of 1950