When the sidewalks flooded, and the roads froze

A couple of days ago, I wrote a  sci-fi take on a genuine news story.  I had just figured out how to embed pictures in posts and it was a fun exercise.        What a  thrill and an honor to see this post on the Digital Trib!  There it was, alongside breaking news stories and Mary Schmich’s thoughtful columns.

Yes, we need stories, as well as news. It is the stories we will carry with us to other worlds, someday, maybe. That is our resilience, and if you will, our antifreeze. Yes, we will always need  stories, too.

And, there will be many stories of these times.  Will we be telling them in packing boxes under the viaducts, while giant insects scrabble over the expressways, hunting the speeding cars?  Well, that’s another  science-fiction story…

This is reality. Earth is becoming the alien planet, now.

This winter may be epic. Records broken, weird weather all over the world. Steve Dale did an excellent report on the impact of these weather extremes. You can read it, here.

Let’s review the winter here so far. Tornadoes. Early snowfall.  Heavy snow accumulation, followed by a brief deep freeze. And now, almost a heat wave of 40 degrees, and rain!

“CHIBERIA is melting,” I wrote, “like a memory or a dream.” Friday night was a nightmare–freezing rain falling on snow, snow melting on still-frozen ground and  a choice of wading through ice-cold water on the sidewalks or negotiating ice-slick streets and heavy traffic. In between, impassable mountains of dirty snow.

There were hundreds of accidents, spin-outs and road closures. Hazardous is an understatement! Now, there are potholes.

Weather is not climate, so they say. Weather is what happens every day. Climate is weather patterns over time.  As they also say, these are interesting times.

Climate change is  the new reality. We are not the only  ones, here.  We share this world with countless other creatures. We’re going to have to adapt or die.  But we are resourceful, too, aren’t we?  Aren’t we?

Watch out for the potholes.

I’m drying out the winter boots with newspapers.




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Filed under: seasons, weather

Tags: deep freeze, heat wave, potholes


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  • Honestly, I saw much worse "climate change" ---snow and cold and weather extremes-- in the late 1970's. This, as they say, ain't nuthin', but "Climate Change" someday will be recognized as bad science fiction.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    I'll agree to the extent that there were much worse snow storms in 1967, 1979, 1999, and 2011, and certainly at least as cold in 1979 and the early 80s (before El Nino*). It used to be a standard feature of winter that the storm track (now called the jet stream) dipped into Texas and there was no way to get relief north of there until Spring. There are PBS shows about the polar bears' ice floes shrinking, but not clear that is because the cold is heading in this direction.

    From Korean TV (24.7), it appears that the polar vortex hit them, too.

    The main difference this time is that the city and CTA seemed able to deal with it.; however, Metra wasn't.

    *1982-1983. I see the Internet called it the worst ever, but I had no objection to the forsythia blooming in December, as opposed to usual subzero temperatures and massive snowfalls in years before then.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, thanks for stopping by. I much appreciate your comments and your perspective.

    The 2011 blizzard was the worst I had ever experienced! Tom Skilling and crew predicted its arrival almost to the minute, too. It would have been a typical blizzard to my friend who grew up in Montana.

    Indeed, weather is local, and global. We worry about potholes, here; the polar vortex, jet stream, ocean currents, affect the whole world.

    I think the more we learn about weather, the more we see how everything is connected.

  • In reply to Weather Girl:

    The1967 one was much worse, not just in depth, but also that it was not predicted.

    Later on, John Coleman claimed that he was the only one to predict it, but he was in Milwaukee at the time.

    An aside on how things have changed--he claimed to have developed a series of slides for TV weather warnings so the deaf could get a warning. Compare that to all the computer graphics overload we have today.

  • In reply to jack:

    Jack, your weather observations are phenomenal! Always enlightening, and appreciated. I keep thinking about that blooming forsythia...

    You know, even with that up-to-the-minute forecast in 2011, people were still stranded on Lake Shore Drive.

    We've gotten over 36" of snow so far this winter-- Maybe the flooding and ice on Friday was worse because many of the sidewalks weren't shoveled. First, it was so cold; then, the predicted warm-up.

    I have to admit my personal experience of the '67 blizzard was as a kid in the country, and school closed for days.
    I will have to do more research.

    Thanks again.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Richard, thank you for reading, and your comments. You know, really good s-f writers (John Brunner and J.G. Ballard for example) have been writing about environmental impact since the 70's. So easy to dismiss these warnings. Humans are also invasive, altering this world for their convenience, at the expense of other humans and other creatures.

    How many floods of the century, 500-year tsunamis, 50-year killer heat waves do we have to see? Things are out of balance. We need more awareness of how things are deeply connected. We need humility and compassion, and visions of a better future.

  • Well done, Weather Girl. You're so right, we need the stories... especially for telling when the weather's too rotten to go out and do other things!
    Also, the "worst" isn't just the measurement of the snow's depth -- it's how well (or badly) the snow is handled. That makes this year's edition bad in more than just size, I'd say.

  • In reply to MargaretSerious:

    Margaret, look above about my statement that the city and CTA seemed to handle it better this time. I have not read stories about buses stranded with blowing snow in them on LSD (2011), better than half the L cars ruined (1999 and 1979), stations closed because the available trains were packed at the terminals (1979) or pictures of cars and buses that could not be extricated (1969 and 1979).

    Metra and Amtrak screwed up, but that seems to be about it.

    Elsewhere, people got on me for saying to apply a little perspective, but I'm sure that pretty much anyone around now was around in 2011.

  • In reply to jack:

    67 not 69.

  • Thank you for stopping by, MargaretSerious. I agree about the stories, and the snow handling (or lack of) this time around. That Friday freezing rain was not hockey, people sliding and falling all over the ice!

  • I think we are in for a crazy ride weather wise this winter. Last winter didn't start until February so it was easier to handle!

    Nice post.

  • Thanks for reading, Kathy! I think you're right, it's been pretty wild so far. The snowboard pants are really coming in handy this year.

    The Farmers' Almanac predicted an early, cold winter---and possibly a blizzard for the Superbowl. We'll see....

  • A blizzard for the Superbowl? "We are Farmers. Dun, de-dun-dun, dun, dun, dun!"

  • And what mayhem may ensue....

    Thanks for stopping by, AW!

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