Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Winter We've Endured

I grew up in Idaho, and I am no stranger to cold, snowy Winters.  As a child, I remember riding in the car down roads that were basically tunnels of plowed snow.  My family lived out in the country across the street from large fields, and my dad was constantly out digging us out of our snowed-in state with his massive snow blower.  We rode the bus to school in all sorts of cold and blizzardy weather.  I lived for those rare days when my mom would share the good news of a Snow Day.

The Winters there have been much milder in the past years.  I have since lived in much more mild areas of the country.  Even after moving to MN, our first Winter here wasn't all that bad.

This one, though.  This one has tested my strength.  My fortitude.  My will to live.

I have struggled to get through it.  Apparently Pregnant Mindy + Extremely Cold Winter = Crazy!!!  For me, this winter sadly did come to This.  (Good for a laugh, take a moment to watch the video.)  "Plus One" seemed to be a thing to live for.

The only solace I have had was talking to native Minnesotans who, having lived here forever, all said it was the hardest Winter they have experienced in a long time, if ever.  So, for the record, let's remember together a few fun facts about the coldest Winter this area has had for 30 years.  I'm not doing this to complain.  It is really a record year, and certainly the most difficult Winter I remember living through, so I think it deserves some attention.

We lived through the Polar Vortex, versions One and Two.  The local schools closed several times because of dangerously cold temperatures, as low the -20s, and windchills hitting -45.  The hardest part about all of this for me was it being too cold for my kids to play outside.

We have reached a Winter Misery Index of 200 points, which puts us at "Severe Winter" status, and the 10th most severe winter on record.

The end of February put us at having 45 days of sub-zero temperatures.

And as of March 20, we have had 135 days below freezing.

February 11 brought news of a city-wide frozen pipe issue.  It had been so cold for so long that the frost had reached the city's pipes, which are buried 6 ft. under ground.  The part that stuck out to me was that in a normal year, the utility company would deal with about 3 cases of frozen pipes.  On that date this year, there were 70.  In the next few days, we would hear of more and more.  On my street alone, the four houses on the end of the culdesac lost water due to frozen pipes.  One neighbor was out of water for two weeks.  A family in our ward lives outside city limits and has a well.  They lost water a month ago and just have to wait until things thaw out in the Spring to get it back because no one has a pipe long enough to reach the frozen blockage at the end of their pipe.  We have been running water constantly to try to prevent ours from freezing up, and it have to say that it goes against everything my little Idaho Desert Water-Conservationist self believes.  But I don't want to lose my water.

We had a blizzard on Feb. 20 that resulted in a total of about 10 inches of snow.  The two days before the blizzard were 45 degrees.  They were the first days above freezing we had had in months.  Then the blizzard came through and left this for us:
 It then dipped right back down into below-freezing temperatures.  See the pretty snow-covered trees?  That snow stayed on the trees for Weeks!!!

A side effect of that storm was bad roads.  The snow got packed down on the roads, then it froze, and we were left with a 1-2 inch layer of ice on the roads that couldn't be plowed and didn't melt away for weeks because it was so cold.  The ice became patchy, and driving around the city was like driving down long roads just filled with pot holes!  I have never experienced anything like it. The kids didn't like it.  They said that the roads were "too bumpy."

Another thing about the winter is that we had PILES of snow!  It didn't snow all that much, but when it did, none of it ever melted.  The day after the blizzard, our snow piles looked like this:

We got a few more inches of snow a week or so later, and I created these piles:
(Notice how we almost buried the light post?!  I sooo wanted to.)

This past month has brought warmer temperatures.  I have watched as the locals here have shed their coats and clothing as temps reached the 20s.  (I did see a girl in a tank top.)  My own kids played on the deck in short sleeves and bare feet, at 32 degrees, flinging snow off the deck with garden trowels, exclaiming to me, "Mom, it's like Summer out here!"

So here we are, March 23.   I see and hear evidence of friends from around the country enjoying the beginnings of Spring.  Crocuses blooming, family bike rides, hikes, all sorts of outdoorsiness and signs of better weather.  Then I look at our forecast, and lows of 4 degrees, and I want to die a little.  Our current temperature is 19 degrees.  It's supposed to snow tomorrow.  It has been the toughest Winter in 30 years, and there still isn't any real signs of Spring.  I guess I should just count myself lucky that we are leaving for a two-month rotation in FL on Thursday.  I'll be happy to escape into warmth and sun.  I will also be patting myself on the back all the way there for having survived this tough season.

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