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Dave Haas: Lancaster's weatherman

Lancasterís Dave Haas has been tracking the weather faithfully for more than 20 years. Jeff Woodburn. (click for larger version)
December 15, 2010
LANCASTER — Weather this past week was diverse and included everything from snow squalls to a deep freeze to high winds and heavy showers. Northern New England is famous for its erratic weather, but in Lancaster one thing is certain and that is — regardless of the weather, Dave Haas will trudge through it to read his three gauges and record it and then pass it along. For more than two decades, he has been Lancaster's Cooperative Observer for the National Weather Service.

Each morning at 6 a.m. Mr. Haas gathers the precipitation, temperature and, during the winter months, the snow fall from his home on Grove Street and sends it off to a National Weather Service's offices in Gray, Maine.

"Everybody likes to talk about the weather," he said, "and I like to talk about the weather too and now I have the records to back up what I say."

The retired physical therapist is more than accountant of local weather. He gathers it with gusto and shares it broadly and enthusiastically. Though the local newspapers, he provides a weekly review, which includes the bare essentials as well as a historical perspective.

Haas has compiled local weather data from as far back as 1893 and continuous daily weather records since 1968. From a tiny, nook of an office surrounded by various instruments to read weather (as well as ham radio), he peers into a computer screen that in an instants spit local weather facts with ease. The winter of 1968-69, he reports, produced the most snow (43 inches in February alone, which was three times the monthly average). The single biggest storm came in February, 1978 and it dumped 24 inches.

When asked about a particularly memorable weather event, like a brutally cold Christmas day, he pin-points the exact year (1980), high (-3) and low temperature (-38) and, minutes later, confirms that it was in fact "the coldest December day ever." It should not be confused with the coldest day ever — that was February 17, 1979, when the temperature dropped to -40.

Interestingly, he noted that in the ten-year period from 1968-1978, the region had more snow than any other ten year period dating back to the 1800s.

Haas, who grew up on an Ohio farm, chose to relocate to the region in the 1970s and take a position at Weeks Memorial Hospital in part because of the arctic climate. While many tolerate the winter, he loves it. "We get so many different storm fronts from so many different areas," he explained, "and it changes a great deal."

All these changes and information can lead to problems though; a simple trip to the grocery story can lead to some lengthy discussions. "People have a lot of questions for me," he said, "I enjoy doing it."

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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