Wednesday, January 29, 2014

This year, the cold chill of winter is worse than the slop of all the snowfall

I’m usually the type who complains about snowfall while also downplaying the effect of cold temperatures during the winter months.

After all, one can always put on a sweater. Or be like my brother, whose winter coat gets supplemented by a couple of sweatshirts. Snowfall, however, gets messy and creates the road conditions that causes idiots who don’t know how to slow down to skid all over the place.

WHO’S TO SAY if it was sloppy weather that caused the Monday night incident where a truck crashed into an Illinois State Toll Highway Authority worker who was trying to provide relief to the driver of another truck that was pulled alongside Interstate 88 near Aurora? The worker is dead, while an Illinois State Police trooper who tried to aid, remained in critical condition, according to the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times newspapers.

But this winter is the one that has me wondering if I’ve been a bit misguided, while also introducing the weather geek term “polar vortex” into common vocabulary.

This is the winter where we’re on our second spurt of temperatures reaching low levels most commonly found in the Arctic Circle. If this is the level of cold commonly reached at the North Pole, it’s a wonder that Santa Claus hasn’t relocated his red-clad butt to a tropical island somewhere.

Perhaps that one where Gilligan and the rest of the crew (including Mary Ann with all her coconut pies) managed to go undetected for all those years!
Ditching Gilligan for Santa Claus?

IT’S COLD. AND it’s ridiculous when we were supposed to get all excited about the fact that on Tuesday, we reached a “high” temperature for the day of 1 degree. We actually had our thermometers creep to levels above zero degrees.

Consider that water freezes into ice at 32 degrees (compared to zero degrees Celsius, because some of us would think that is somehow “foreign”). Bottom line. It’s cold.

So cold that I’ve lost track of how many days our schools have been forced to close. If this trend keeps up, we’re going to have a school year that will come close to making Independence Day a day off from class – rather than just part of the school day. We don’t know how many wintry blasts of cold we’re going to get. We can only hope this second one is the last one.
Some Hoosiers don't know how to share

Personally, I’m coping well with the weather because I’m able to remain indoors. I haven’t had to travel anywhere, so I haven’t. I did wake up Tuesday morning with a couple of toes feeling numb. But heavy socks helped deal with that.

BUT I AM starting to feel a bit stir crazy, as would – I expect – just about everyone else who has been confined indoors due to the dangerous cold temperatures we’re experiencing now.

I could have done without the personal educational experience of how cold it gets in the Arctic and on Antarctica on a common day (although, to be honest, the South Pole has its record lows at levels we can only hope we never experience in Chicago).

This has been a season that has brought out the best, and worst, in all of us. Sometimes, at the same time.

Take the tale coming out of Gary, Ind., and its neighboring community of Portage. Gary, because of its proximity to Lake Michigan, experienced significant levels of snowfall, while Portage was just far enough back that it didn’t get much.

SO PORTAGE OFFICIALS, according to the Times of Northwest Indiana newspaper, had their Public Works Department crews go into Gary to assist with snow cleanup on the streets. It was a gesture of kindness from the Portage mayor.

Except that other village officials were upset that they weren’t consulted. Some of them would have preferred that the aid not be provided to Gary. I wonder if the fact that Gary is an African-American dominant city – 84.8 percent – is a factor. Regardless, it comes across as pretty petty. A colder gesture than the temperature itself.
Trashy-weather TV?

This will be a winter we tell stories about in the future. Although I wonder how far those stories will get exaggerated. At the very least, we won’t be hearing stories 30 years from now about how people walked to school in 10-below temperatures.

They stood home and watched trashy programs on television (I just caught the end of “Robocop”). Which is all the more reason to hope that this is The End. As in, cue The Doors.


No comments: