Universal York

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York County weather from the past

From the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives
From the York County Heritage Trust Library/Archives

The July 16, 1953 Gazette and Daily carried an article on Harry C. Arnold, superintendent at the York Water Company; he had been recording the weather at the York Pumping Station since 1915. He used three instruments: “an alcohol thermometer which records both the running temperature and the day’s minimum, a mercury thermometer which keeps track of maximum temperatures, and a calibrated canister and measuring rod for establishing the amount of precipitation.” He gauged the wind velocity by observing the treetops.

Arnold reported that between 1915 and 1953, the lowest recorded temperature was -21 F in January 1925. Looking at a modern chart, that record still stands, being matched only once, in January 1994.

Likewise, Arnold lists the highest temperatures since 1915 as 1918 [August] and 1936 [July], both reaching 105. That figure does not seem to have been reached since; the last time the reading was over 100 was when the thermometer hit 102 in July 2012. He points out that some months have quite a fluctuation in highs and lows and that our area usually has an “Indian summer,” with temperatures reaching the 70s, or even 80s, for at least a short period just about every November.

Arnold says the water company started keeping precipitation records in 1888 and most of the years up to 1953 were close to the average yearly precipitation of 39.81 inches. The record wet year was 1941, with 55.17 inches and dry year 1909 with 22.93 inches. The most snowfall in one 24 hour period that he recorded was 18.5 inches in January, 1945. That was not surpassed, and then only barely, until January 1996, when we witnessed 19 inches.

Arnold had been assistant for most of the span of years from 1915 to 1953 to Clayton L. Bott, who retired in 1952 after 44 years at the water company. The article closes with: “Bott and Arnold have had only one real problem keeping close tabs on York’s weather. That was when the weather struck back at them. In 1933, a flood came close to destroying all their records to date. It succeeded in blurring them to such an extent that many had to be laboriously copied in new record books.

Weather statistics are still being kept at the pumping station, and detailed reports can be seen at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA) web page for the York Pumping Station.