Show of hands. How many of y'all suffered through the latest snow and ice storm? Okay, hands down. How many of you know about the possible major storm due next week? My local weatherman claims it all depends on where the eastern edge of the front comes through as to whether it's all lake effect snow in the Midwest or a blanketing of the eastern seaboard.
As much as we like to bitch and moan about the weather, it's nothing compared to what many of our ancestors lived through before emigrating to America.
Two lines of my family tree saw much hardship in Europe. First, they had to leave their French homeland because of religious persecution. They were Huguenots. During the Wars of Religion, one branch escaped to Holland, the other to Switzerland. After a few generations in their adopted countries, the Swiss family moved on to northern Germany. The year before my seventh great-grandfather married my seventh great-grandmother Europe experienced the worst winter in recorded history.
The winter of 1708-1709 saw temperatures in Europe drop by an unprecedented four degrees Celsius. Today’s average January temperature in Munich is -2 degrees Celsius (28 F). A four degree Celsius drop would be -6 Celsius (20 F). In the winter of 1708-1709, Europe was in the middle of a very cold spell. According to many scientists, the temperatures likely averaged about -12 Celsius (10 F) and perhaps lower. The daily highs would be well below freezing for many, many days.
So, the next time you start grumbling about having to shovel the snow, salt the sidewalks, or score the ice just remember your forefathers and mothers and what they had to endure.
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