A year of weather in a month

SALEM – You could say there were all four climate conditions in a month: drought, a 70-degree day, flooding, followed by ice and snow – and then almost spring.

First, Salem and the surrounding areas were part of the drought conditions plaguing the Roanoke Valley starting with last summer. Enough snow to call it a storm fell on Jan. 18. It was shirtsleeve weather for a brief day, followed by 25-degree highs.

Four inches of heavy rain in as many hours sent the Roanoke River way over its banks and the Greenway at Salem Rotary Park on Jan. 31. Photo by Carrie E. Cox

And then there was flooding, with several inches of rain falling within a couple of hours Jan. 30 and early Jan. 31.

Before all that could dry off in 50-plus mph winds, a cold front moved in and turned roads into skating rinks.

Snow fell for the third time in as many weekends, just enough to close schools but not enough for kids to make giant snowmen.

Nathan Firebaugh captured the sunrise over the winter's first snowstorm at his his house in East Salem near Electric Road on Jan. 18. For more of his work, go to http://www.nfirebaughphoto.com

Virginia Department of Transportation crews began repairing washed-out roads and waiting for high water to recede to reopen others – nothing like the Pulaski area, though, where people were evacuated.

On Saturday, Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil supposedly didn’t see his shadow in Pennsylvania. No self-respecting groundhog was available in Salem to give a prediction.

According to the Pennsylvania whistle pig and his lack of a shadow, there will be an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter.

People can only hope.