THE WEATHER: January Thaw

On swirl-dimpled, symbol-specked Weather Bureau maps, the storm gathered in classic pattern: polar air and Gulf of Mexico winds butted along a line that curled like an overturned roller coaster; winds overhead fluxed cold and warm. Translated into ground-level consequences last week, the winter's most severe storm heaved snow, sleet, gales, tornadoes and floods over most of the U.S. west to the Rockies, by week's end was responsible for more than 100 deaths.

Heaviest single toll was in Pittston, Pa., where the ice-clogged Susquehanna River tore away a railroad bed, gnawed a...

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