Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Winter Weather, Chicago, and a Really Big Storm

"Hardy Chicago brought to standstill by blizzard"
Mary Wisniewski, Edition: U.S. (February 2, 2011)

"Chicago, a city that usually sneers at winter, was brought to a near standstill on Wednesday by a blizzard packing the third highest snowfall in the city's history.

"Chicago public schools, which hadn't closed since 1999, were shut on Wednesday and will be closed again Thursday. Courts were closed. Five suburban commuter rail lines were down.

"Lake Shore Drive, the city's main north-south thoroughfare, was closed and still littered with over 100 abandoned cars late Wednesday afternoon. Many side streets were impassable, and even plowed arterial streets and highways were eerily empty.

" 'This is pretty unbelievable,' said John Paczesny, 48, a maintenance worker at a Chicago church. He was out with a snowblower clearing a path Wednesday morning, snow clinging to his mustache and eyebrows.

" 'I was around in '67 but this is really crazy,' he said.

"The highest snowfall on record in Chicago was in January 1967, with 23 inches, followed by January 1999 with 21.6 inches. The 2011 blizzard's total was 20.2 inches at O'Hare Airport, according to the National Weather Service. The blizzard is expected to be followed by bitter cold, with wind chill temperatures forecast to plunge to 20 to 30 below zero Wednesday night...."

Brush fires on the north side of the Los Angeles area? Unpleasant, at best, for folks living in the tinderlands: but a seasonal routine in the news. New York City having trouble dealing with snow, traffic - and occasionally garbage? Again, not all that unusual a news item. You'd think they'd have included alleys in the city's street plan - and that's another topic.

Chicago having trouble digging out? That's news. One of the advantages to living in the American Midwest is that harsh weather is a seasonal routine: Folks learn to deal with it. Then there's Minnesota, that's north of the flyover states and this storm - and the Lemming will get back to that.
"Storm Leaves Much of Country Shivering, Shoveling and Awaiting More"
Michael Cooper, The New York Times (February 3, 2011)
('Third?' It's only 8:50 p.m. in New York City as the Lemming's writing this post)

"The blizzard that dropped a foot or more of snow across a staggeringly wide area of the country, from Oklahoma up through a paralyzed Chicago and across parts of an ice-glazed New England, finally began to weaken Wednesday. It left behind a long trail of spun-out cars, darkened homes, closed schools and stranded fliers...."

Schools in central Minnesota were two hours late - and then not opening at all - because of this storm. Not all the schools, but a fair percentage.

Which brings the Lemming to this bit of blatant self-promotion:
  • "Small Town America: Minnesota"
    "From the heart of darkest Minnesota: my view of small town America
    "The first view-on-the-street webcam in Sauk Centre, Minnesota"
That's a link to the Lemming's webcam, looking out on the corner of Ash and South 9th in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Right now, there's not much to see but a whole lot of dark. And it'll be off for a few hours, later in the evening. But the Lemming plans to have the view available again, well before morning.

Back to Minnesota and weather. It's like the joke goes: 'here in Minnesota, we don't have a climate, we have weather.' This is a state where it's typically hot, cold, wet, dry, and anything in between. One of the Lemming's favorite Minnesota headlines, from decades past, was "National Guard Arctic Maneuvers Canceled Due to Inclement Weather."

This time, happily, the 'storm' part of this weather system stayed mostly to the south of us Minnesotans. The part we did get, most of us dealt with the same way we do every time: Get inside (except for winter sports enthusiasts - another topic), wait for the storm to pass, then dig out.

Then there are the folks who operate the road-clearing machinery. They're out clearing snow as it comes down - unless it gets really bad.

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