On Jan. 29, area residents hung up heavy coats and left behind winter gloves during a dayslong stretch of balmy, unseasonable warm weather.
Now, with the second storm in two weeks blanketing the region under several inches of heavy, wet snow and the possibility of another one on the way, some may be wishing they could exchange those 58-degree January days for temperatures above freezing.
Accuweather expert senior meteorologist Jack Boston said this type of weather pattern happens every several years with strong blocking in the atmosphere pushing cold air south from the Arctic Circle and Canada into the contiguous United States.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Brenda Harding of Altoona got tired of being in her home, so she spent the morning
making a snow bunny in her front yard.
Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Steve Martynuska barely misses his neighbor’s grandson Justin Bianconi, 11, of Loretto during a friendly snow fight in front of his Keystone Avenue home in Cresson on Monday afternoon.
Mirror photo by Zach Geiger
A tractor-trailer traveling east on Route 422 early Monday crashed over an embankment near Revloc, backing up traffic for hours as emergency crews worked to clear the wreckage.
The normal high for this time of year is around 50 degrees, he said, and so this type of weather pattern certainly "is unusual" in late March.
To top it off, with such a pattern being quite stable, the area could get hit again around Sunday, just in time for Easter, he said.
Boston said the worst of this storm is over, although the cold, wind and sporadic snow or rain showers will stick around for a few days.
The quick onset of the storm led to road closures across the area.
A tractor trailer traveling east on Route 422 near Revloc jackknifed on the icy roadway just before 6 a.m. Monday, slid into the opposing lane of travel and crashed over an embankment, police said.
Gregg Sloan, Revloc Volunteer Fire Company chief, said the driver of the AIM Integrated Logistics truck was transported to Altoona Regional for various injuries but was released Monday evening.
Emergency crews managed to pull the truck onto the roadway from the side of the steep embankment at about 5:15 p.m.
No other vehicles were involved in the accident, officials said.
Crews used chain saws to clear tree stumps and debris along the side of the embankment in order to free the truck.
Multiple broken trees and crumpled sections of guardrail were scattered around the scene of the crash.
Fire company officials said work crews snapped multiple tow chains while attempting to pull the truck and trailer up the embankment. Multiple tires were punctured as the vehicle was pulled onto the roadway and had to be replaced before the vehicle could be towed from the scene, Sloan said.
Dozens of tractor trailers and vehicles were backed up by the Route 219 intersection as crews worked to clear the wreckage.
The northbound lanes of Interstate 99 between Pinecroft and Bellwood and Route 453 in Warriors Mark Township, Huntingdon County, from the intersection of Shoenberger Road to the intersection of Tyrone Street were also closed for hours Monday after multi-vehicle crashes.
An unexpected bonus to the bad weather, Boston said, may be that by the end of April, the weather pattern will have shifted and temperatures may hit 80 degrees a few times.
"It will seem like a gift from God," he said.
With enough moisture in the ground to help plants along, it will work out better for agriculture rather than seeing an early thaw followed by heavy storms, he said.
Plus, people may be able to open their swimming pools early this year, he said.
Although most locals are sick of snow, at least one has found a way to make the best of it.
Brenda Harding, 48, of Juniata woke up this morning and decided to forego the traditional snowman and make something more season-appropriate: a snow bunny.
Harding said with grown children and young grandchildren, she knows she's not a kid anymore but "I thought, today I'm going out and playing like a kid."
With plastic purple forks for eyelashes, snapped spoons for teeth and bunny ears, Harding's creation has led more than one motorist to hit the brakes and take in the view.
"The best part [is] to see them laugh," she said.
This is the first winter Harding's spent in the commonwealth in five years, she said, because she's usually in Florida.
While she wasn't expecting a snow-free season, she's "had enough winter," she said.
In the meantime, Harding said she thinks people are being too hard on Punxsutawney Phil.
"Everyone's blaming the groundhog," she said. "But how foolish are we to believe a groundhog?"
Mirror Staff Writer Kelly Cernetich is at 946-7520. Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.