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Erie, Pennsylvania Just Got Buried in 53 Inches of Snow in 30 Hours

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Be careful what you wish for: Residents of Erie, Pennsylvania who were dreaming of a white Christmas got more than they bargained for when a jaw-dropping 53 inches of snow fell on the city and its surrounding areas over a 30-hour period. The white stuff started to fall on Christmas Day, and by the end of Monday there was a total of 34 inches on the ground, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland. It was a record-setting total for the city, clobbering its previous snowiest-day-ever, when 20 inches fell on November 11, 1956. But Mother Nature wasn't done with them yet.

The heavy snowfall continued into Tuesday morning, dropping another 19 inches, for a grand total of 53 inches of snow—just under 4.5 feet—by Tuesday morning. But it’s still not over; the snow is expected to continue through Wednesday. The city of Erie and several surrounding areas have declared snow emergencies, and requested that residents stay off the “dangerous and impassable” roads until emergency workers can make them safe for drivers again.

Chuck Zysk, Erie’s assistant director of public works, told GoErie.com that he had never seen this much snow in such a short period of time. “I think our guys are doing a tremendous job," he said. "But we have work ahead of us." Adding to the challenge is the number of vehicles that were abandoned in the middle of city streets after getting stuck in the snow.

As of 9:12 a.m., however, U.S. mail carriers were still scheduled to hit the roads and make their deliveries. “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” may not be the USPS’s official motto, but maybe it should be.

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Weather Watch
Heated Mats Keep Steps Ice-Free in the Winter
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Amazon

The first snow of the season is always exciting, but the magic can quickly run out when you remember all the hazards that come with icy conditions. Along with heating bills, frosted cars, and other pains, the ground develops a coat of ice that can be dangerous for pedestrians and drivers alike. Outdoor steps become particularly treacherous and many people find themselves clutching their railings for fear of making it to the bottom headfirst. Instead of putting salt down the next time it snows, consider a less messy approach: heated mats that quickly melt the ice away.

The handy devices are made with a thermoplastic material and can melt two inches of snow per hour. They're designed to be left outside, so you can keep them ready to go for the whole winter. The 10-by-30-inch mats fit on most standard steps and come with grips to help prevent slipping. A waterproof connector cable connects to additional mats so up to 15 steps can be covered.

Unfortunately, this convenience comes at a price: You need to buy a 120-volt power unit for them to work, and each mat is sold separately. Running at $60 a mat, the price can add up pretty quickly. Still, if you live in a colder place where it's pretty much always snowing, it might be worth it.

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Weather Watch
It Just Snowed In the Sahara Desert
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The Sahara isn’t always scorching. This week, a cold spell hit the town of Aïn Séfra in northern Algeria, and the world’s largest hot desert was blanketed in up to 16 inches of the white stuff in some places, The Independent reports.

The rare snowfall began early on Sunday, January 7, with the resulting precipitation melting by late afternoon. The phenomenon marked the region’s third snowfall in nearly 40 years, with other surprise wintry events occurring in February 1979 and December 2016.

Aïn Séfra is located in the Saharan Atlas Mountains in the northern Sahara Desert. Thanks to the region’s altitude, it's “not surprising that the area would see some snow if the conditions were right” a spokesperson for the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service, told The Independent. "With the setup over Europe at the moment, which has given us cold weather over the weekend, a push southwards of cold air into that region and some sort of moisture would bring that snow."

Kids enjoyed the freak snowfall, making snowmen and sledding down sand dunes, while adults had to deal with their vehicles getting stranded on icy roads, according to Forbes. By the day's end, temperatures climbed to 42°F and sand dunes returned to their ordinary brown—just long enough for residents of Aïn Séfra to experience both the highs and lows of an ordinary snow day.

[h/t The Independent]

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