Granville Then & Now – Reflecting on the amount of snow, rain here

By Erik Pekar, Town Historian

Many minds in the area are pondering on how long it has been since the Granville area received a wallop of snow as it did Dec. 17. The answer depends on whether the storm left almost as much snow as this time, or more. The most recent storm to get the closest to last storm’s total would be the February 2007 nor’easter, which left about 30 inches in the area, still less than what we got a few weeks ago.

There were other big storms further back: the Thanksgiving 1971 storm, which snarled traffic throughout the Northeast; the December 1969 storm, which brought heavy, wet snow, enough to result in the collapse of the ill-maintained roof of the Pember Opera House. While Granville wasn’t particularly lucky in getting three feet of snow on a prediction of six inches, Granville did luck out in a way as December 2020’s nor’easter was the soft, light snow and not the heavy snow.

2020 has left and 2021 has arrived. Let’s take a brief look back at some of the good that happened. The decorative building outline lights on Granville’s Main Street shined from 2019 through January … another Granville athlete made the record books when Jarett Williams became the fifth basketball player to score 1,000 points … the Main Street lights were turned back on the evening of March 19 … after the schools went remote, the daily announcements at the high school continued to be given by senior Payton Barlow from her home … the replacement of the village streetlights with soft yellow LED lights … the repaving of Route 22 from Middle Granville to the Fort Ann town line in the spring … the double graduation ceremony, that allowed for graduates to have a physical graduation event, parents to attend and watch, and for the school to abide by the state’s attendance limits.

Jordan Flower painted murals on two of Telescope Casual Furniture’s buildings facing Church Street, working every other week from late June through August … Granville still had its fireworks display this year on Independence Day, July 4 … the repaving of Route 149 from Granville to Hartford in the summer … the placement of the new Global War on Terrorism monument in Veterans Memorial Park … the high school track and scoreboard were replaced and modernized … the first Autumn Leaves Car Cruise, organized on the fly as a replacement for the canceled Granville Area Autumn Leaves Car Show, was held on a day with the sun shining warm and the area’s trees showing their colorful foliage … the drive-through Halloween basket giveaway, that gave about 1,000 baskets of goodies to children from the area and surrounding places … the expanded decorative building outline lights on locally owned village businesses … the virtual tree lighting ceremony, streamed live in its entirety online … the Christmas decorations on houses and businesses in the village, Middle Granville, and elsewhere in the town of Granville.

The ground of the Granville area was green, and bare of snow, until the recent nor’easter. Once that hit, it began to look like Granville would have a “white Christmas” after all. However, the weather forecast the week of Christmas took a different turn. The week would have warmer weather, culminating in temperatures floating near 50 on Christmas Eve.

Rain started falling the afternoon of Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, and continued off and on through the night, into the morning hours of Christmas Day. By Christmas morning, much of the snow had melted. The temperature was over 50 degrees for much of the day. With that, the chance of a “white Christmas” was dashed.

On Dec. 23, the prediction was made that the rains would result in severe flooding along the Mettowee River, with a flood crest level projected to be comparable to that of a level reached on Jan. 6, 1998. That event brought sufficient flood waters to go over Cove Road just east of the bridge, flooded the corners south of the village, and damaged some of the landscaping around the Slate Valley Museum, but not the museum itself.

Some of the places that did flood were the fields along the Mettowee west of the Middle Granville road, part of the channel that washes out Cove Road, and some of the area around the Route 22 bridge over the Indian River on the bypass. The corners did not flood, Cove Road did not get inundated or washed out, and there were few low-lying village properties that had fields or lawns partly flooded. Part of the reason floods were mitigated was that the weather had been warm for days and the ground was not frozen, allowing the water to be absorbed. Had the ground been frozen when the rains came, there would have been a lot more flooding in the Granville area.

While the weather prediction for little snow on Dec. 17 was a very mistaken understatement, the prediction that there would be flooding on Dec. 25 turned out to be right. However, the prediction this time was an overstatement; Granville fared much better in terms of flooding than in January 1998.

Christmas Day in Granville started out as a relatively quiet day. There was little activity since almost everything was closed. The most commotion was around 10:30 a.m., when the power went out for a few minutes, and came back on. For the village and south half of the town, this was but a brief power interruption, and the day continued as usual.

The north half of town, including Middle Granville and North Granville, was not as lucky. The reason for the power outage was that a branch of a tree on Dayton Hill Road in Middle Granville, within 50 feet of the road’s end at Old Route 22, fell down and took the wires as well. Within a few minutes, power attempted to come back on in these parts of town, causing a brief “light show” as a power arc formed. The phenomenon appeared twice; one of them may have appeared as the branch came down on the wires. The power remained out in the north half of the town of Granville for nearly two hours.

Crews from NYSEG were on the scene by noon. Power was restored to the north half of town around 12:20 p.m.

Perhaps the most unfortunate impact of the power outage was a change of plan for many a household’s Christmas Day cooking. There was also the issue of cellar sump pumps rendered inoperable due to the lack of power. A few had to call the local volunteer fire company to pump out their cellars.

The Granville area in 1970 also had a power outage near the end of the year. On the afternoon of Dec. 31, at 2:52 p.m., an insulator failed on a circuit breaker at the substation on North Street. Power was out for an hour, until restored at 3:55 pm.

Erik Pekar

Town Historian