|By Bob Weaver|
Winter weather forecasting is shaky business these days.
In 2001, the late Willard Jones said, "It has been a few years since we had a really cold winter."
The unofficial Mayor of Five Forks and ole-time music maker was at the Koffee Kup when he made his annual winter prognostication for the Hur Herald.
"It once dropped to -24. I think that was the coldest I remember in Calhoun," Willard said, who then predicted a really nasty winter, a lot more snow than usual.
"Its been a few years since we had a lot of snow," referring to the winter of 1995-96 which had a real blizzard, knocking out the power and making travel impossible.
I told Willard that The Old Farmers Almanac disputed his winter prediction, with warmer than usual temperatures over the next few months.
"Well, I don't care what they say, I'll tell you one thing. It's gonna get really cold in February."
"Faus Johnson use to tell about skating down the Little Kanawha River from Grantsville in 1917 or 1918, and then walking home," recalled Willard.
They could drive teams across the frozen river, before the first bridge was built.
"Down on Yellow Creek in one of those years, the water was frozen clear to the bottom," according to Willard's mom. "She had to go out, chip ice and melt it for the chickens."
Willard recalled the 1950's blizzard, often written about in The Hur Herald, that made a dent on the collective memory of Calhoun County.
"The sun was shining brightly and all of a sudden it clouded up and got really quiet. A scary quiet. Then it began to snow that Thanksgiving and it just wouldn't quit. Not much moved for two weeks," Willard said.
In 2001 the woolly worm was giving bad news, according to Hur's weather prognosticator, Dianne Weaver.
Dianne has been an expert on the Hur Weather Anomaly, where the weather is driven by an air flow up Rowel's Run, with snow and rain becoming more intense on Hur Hill than anywhere around.
"You can look out the window and see three inches of snow, and drive off the hill and find but a skiff," she said. "This is the only place I know where we have floods on top of a hill."
She also maintains the electric storms streak right over the Hur Herald's executive suite, knocking down trees, before they head directly toward Calhoun's 911 Center.
"It strikes so close to the house. it will knock you outta bed," Dianne said. "Sometimes its caught the woods on fire and even blew up the computers."
Willard often expressed dismay over the weather forecasting of TV meteorologists.
"They come on there and talk about the weather and then come back and give the weather, and when it's all over they've mapped and talked so much that you can't remember what the weather is gonna do," he said.
"I liked in in the old days when the radio man just said it's gonna rain, or whatever. That's all. I understood that."
Well, since Willard's no longer around, we'll just have to stick to his clearest forecast statement, "It's gonna get really cold in February."