“The Winds of Winter”
A brief history of major Pennsylvanian snow storms at our resort!
Love it or hate it, it’s “snow” secret that colder weather is moving in for the long haul!
Our corner of the Pocono Mountains is infamous for some mega winter storms! While it’s yet to be seen if 2020 will feature historic snowfall, let’s take a moment to reminisce about some of the more memorable blizzards of our past!
Believe it or not, just a few short weeks before Woodloch was purchased, Northeastern Pennsylvania was hit by four nasty winter storms in succession between early February and March, with snow piling up well over 90 inches in spots. United States Marines were called in to help those perilously trapped. Helicopters were brought in to rescue those well out of reach of any help. Weeks later, as the snow melted, Harry and Mary Kiesendahl purchased what is now our resort for $45,000, and the era of Woodloch began!
An enormous, early-season, coastal storm that brought rain and 63 mph wind gusts to New York City also happened to bring almost 2 feet of snow to the hills of Northeastern Pennsylvania… on Thanksgiving weekend, no less!
The snow was very heavy and caused several trees to come down on electrical lines, killing the power just as Woodloch began to prepare their Thanksgiving feasts for our guests.
In what forever after would be known as “The Thanksgiving of 22 Frozen Turkeys”, guests settled for bologna sandwiches while hanging by the fireplace with blankets to keep warm. Not ideal, but it certainly brought us all together, and for that, we were truly thankful!
FUN FACT: This storm prompted Woodloch to purchase a generator for our kitchen and Main Lobby! Lesson learned!
They called it “The Storm of the Century,” “The Grandaddy of Them All” and of course, “The Blizzard of 1993.” This unprecedented storm wreaked havoc on the entire east coast of the United States, extending from Canada to Honduras. It even brought snow to regions like Georgia and Alabama.
Needless to say, Pennsylvania got hit HARD. Local snowfall totals exceeded 35 inches while winds swirled at upwards of 70 miles per hour, causing monumental snow drifts.
I was eight years old at the time. I remember wanting to sled through the powder but settled for just jumping off the side of the deck into huge piles of snow. Meanwhile, my dad (gung ho on making the 18 mile commute to work here at Woodloch) attempted to dig his truck out of our driveway manually, only to find our road closed… with plow trucks stuck themselves! Schools were closed for a full week. (ed.)
After the catastrophic Great Storm of 1993, history simply couldn’t repeat itself… could it? It came very close.
In early January 1996, a coastal winter storm was followed up by an “Alberta Clipper” from Canada, providing a vicious one-two punch of walloping wintry weather. Snowfall totals eclipsed 20” from New York City all the way to the Poconos.
Even worse temperatures were warmer than usual for January and the melting snow created flooding problems region wide.
Just as we thought winter was over, Mother Nature proved otherwise. The Blizzard of 2017 ended up dumping just about 30 inches of snow over our corner of the Poconos in mid-March. There were widespread power outages, impassible roads, National Guard dispatches and even suspension of postal service… yet Woodloch remained open. Even crazier, our president and CEO John was on vacation at the time, pushing the third generation of Kiesendahls to step up and manage the crisis.
With employees not being able to get to work or back home, many staff members were stuck here for several days “I still remember a group of eight staff members going around and shoveling each other’s cars out after being at Woodloch for 48 hours straight,” says Patrick Kiesendahl. “We even all rallied and pushed a car up a hill after we shoveled. That type of camaraderie and teamwork can only be found at Woodloch. It was a difficult time, but we came out feeling a lot of confidence about the future after that. We got together, figured out a game plan and then dispersed and handled our areas.”