The cold is coming.

It’s been a jolly morning. I got that rare treat from my family — sleeping in on a school day. Alan woke up chirping at 6:55 a.m., so I let him feed the livestock, etc. Then I open the laptop for my morning run and find this gem, from Roy:

If Obama gets the nomination, we’ll get Willie Horton II (and possibly III, IV, and infinity); if Clinton gets it, the position papers of the opposition will resemble the taunting letters-to-the-editor of serial killers of prostitutes, and if Edwards wins they will all be written by the Club for Growth and Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons.”

It gave me the familiar feeling of laughing through tears, because I thought what I always think: Is there any way ink-on-paper opinion-mongering will ever catch up with the web? (Answer: No.) But at least I was laughing. And then Amy, careful reader of the morning fishwrap in my ex-home, sent this, from the (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette:

Input gathered at two public forums will help the Three Rivers Festival eventually become a nationally recognized event like Mardi Gras, Burning Man or Taste of Chicago, according to Shannon White, the festival’s executive director.

I can see it now: Two San Francisco hipsters, planning their summer. “If we do it right, we can make the Three Rivers Festival in July, and still have plenty of time to recover before Burning Man on Labor Day weekend.” The non-profits there haven’t lost their sense of humor, at least in public statements.

Whew. OK. Friday. Around 10 last night, the rain stopped, the wind picked up and the temperature started to fall. It’s now 19 degrees, and we’re promised single digits, maybe even below, over the weekend. Think I’ll shoot some video down at the lake. The ice probably won’t be safe, but it’ll be pretty. Hard to imagine the death grip of winter was once so predictable here that rumrunners made winter ice part of their business plan. It’d have to be a long, deep cold snap before I’d set foot on river ice, and we just don’t have those anymore.

Cold snaps, while miserable and sometimes terrifying, do give you good stories. I endured the back-to-back horrors of the ’76-’78 winters in college in southeast Ohio, normally a place touched by the balmy breezes of the south — forsythia in February is more or less par for the course there. But for one awful week, I walked to class in minus-20 temperatures, and that’s without the wind chill, a truly baffling weather glitch. One year, early in my Indiana residency, I went to Michigan City for Super Bowl weekend, in similar cold. The car-starting chore was story enough, but the thing I remember about that night, driving home, was the otherworldly city as I pulled into town. It was early on a Sunday night, but the streets were deserted (and not just because people were watching the game). The discharge from thousands of furnaces billowed up as plumes of vapor, and the salt-stained pavement looked like the road to hell. (I’m on the ice side of the fire/ice question, yes.)

I spotted a lone figure, the only human being I’d seen outside for miles, trudging up a driveway in the distance. As I caught up, I could see it wasn’t a residential house, but a massage parlor. I’m sure the girls were working that night, loneliness being perhaps the one thing that could drive a man outside in weather like that.

Tell me a cold-weather story, while I warm my hands over the keyboard. And have a good weekend.

Posted at 10:53 am in Current events |
 

47 responses to “The cold is coming.”

  1. 4dbirds said on January 18, 2008 at 11:22 am

    The coldest I’ve experienced was in Berlin, Germany, winter of 84/85. I don’t know how to explain weather so cold it hurts to breathe or fingers and toes going numb despite heavy socks and gloves. A light dry snow fell just before Christmas and that same snow was still on the ground in February. Walking outside was a shock to the system. My younger son would cry when we had to go outside. Ice would form in my older son’s hair when he walked home from swim practice. As a soldier, that winter made me appreciate just how awful it was for the soldiers fighting in the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 44/55.

  2. Connie said on January 18, 2008 at 11:25 am

    I remember that freezing Super Bowl weekend very well. Mid 80s. We were also new to Indiana and had been spending our weekends exploring southern Indiana. We wondered that Saturday why the heck we went to Lawrenceburg on a 20 below day.

    Temp as I drove to work this a.m. was 15. But the sun is shining.

    My husband will be taking my daughter to the Indy airport tomorrow to depart for her spring semester in Paris and London,(7 hour round trip) and I was planning to drive up to Holland for the day. Prediction is for heavy lake effect snow all along my route. I’ll have to think about it.

  3. john c said on January 18, 2008 at 11:40 am

    I once lived through a week in Chicago where the temperature never went above minus-10, without the windchill. I remember driving out to the Adler Planetarium and taking pics of the skyline, with the giant plumes of vapor Nancy talked about. I snapped a few, then my camera stopped working.
    And not only did rumrunners use their cars to cross to Canada back in the day, but Lake St. Clair was also a mecca of sorts for ice sailing, or ice boating, or whatever you call it. Now we just have ice fishermen, including a handful every year whose chunk of ice breaks free (ours is a flowing lake, as it is part of the waterway between lakes Huron and Erie), triggering a coast guard rescue and perpetuating the nickname – also earned by boozy boaters in the summer – Lake St. Stupid.

  4. nancy said on January 18, 2008 at 11:52 am

    Thanks for the history lesson, John. Remember, too, that the working man’s iceboat, the International DN, is so designated because its design was sponsored by the Detroit News. How fitting that global warming is making iceboating less workable in the backyard of the newspaper, as it makes its own slow fade.

    (Inland iceboating continues around here, but it’s limited by the size of the basin, whereas open-water iceboating — where the vistas are a lot broader — makes the runs more thrilling.)

  5. del said on January 18, 2008 at 11:57 am

    When I lived in Sault Ste. Marie of Michigan’s upper peninsula 25 years ago I would take long walks at night with my then newfangled Sony walkman listening to music and watching the glowing Northern Lights. Unreal.

    By day I would sometimes see the curiously dressed women of Hannah’s — the local brothel catering to sailors going through the locks.

  6. brian stouder said on January 18, 2008 at 11:58 am

    And I seem to recall reading that Henry Ford set a speed record on the lake’s ice, back in the day (there must have been a practical tradeoff – bumpy as hell, but no trees/ditches/hills to deal with)

  7. Sue said on January 18, 2008 at 12:00 pm

    Sorry Nancy, I do not want to talk about my favorite horrible-cold-weather story. I do not have one. I am living in the wrong part of the country for someone who hates the cold, but since I need to be near my Great Lakes, looks like I’m done for. My winter amusement comes in very late winter, as the great “how many ice-fishing idiots will lose their trucks on area bodies of water” season begins.

  8. Dorothy said on January 18, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    My strongest weather-related memory belongs to November 1981, when a freak snow storm just kept dumping snow on Pittsburgh, and we were allowed to leave work mid-afternoon. I only lived about 2 miles from the office, but it was down one steep, curving hill and up another to get to the office complex. I had chunky heels, a skirt and pantyhose on that day. A bus got stuck at the bottom of the hill out of Penn Center, so no cars could get around it. I tried to turn around mid-hill but got stuck, so I nudged the car into a parking space at the apartments half way down the hill out of Penn Center. My feet were pretty frozen when I decided I had to thumb the rest of the way. I got a short ride to the bottom of my street, and practically crawled the rest of the way up the hill. All I kept worrying about was Dublin and Peanut, our Irish setter and cocker spaniel at the house. A warm bath finally thawed me out. I think it took Mike 8 hours to get home that night from Greensburg, which was about 20 miles from our house.

  9. Kim said on January 18, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    I have so many cold weather stories, but I’ll just give you this one: Due to a failure of the former owners to upgrade the furnace when they doubled the size of the house, my bathroom is a cool 45 degrees today. Outdoor temp? 50. I’ll be able to maintain the 45 throughout the night with the wood stove in the fireplace. New furnace is our sexy purchase for the home this year, but not till we don’t need it so we can suffer in order to save a few bucks.

  10. john c said on January 18, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    I don’t know whether Henry Ford set a speed recxord on the ice. But he did make a name for himself racing cars in the empty, swampy fields of what is now Grosse Pointe.

    Also, the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club was found back in the 20s by a bunch of ice boaters.

  11. Connie said on January 18, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I’m with you Sue. Gotta be near those Great Lakes. They restoreth my soul. I’m counting the days – actually about 6 months – before I can head up to our Glen Lake cottage. We always have to pick our week in January so we get a head start on our up north dreams.

  12. nancy said on January 18, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Cold bathrooms are the worst. My friends in Minneapolis have radiant heat in the floor of their bathroom, and if I lived there, I’d consider it as much a requirement in a home as A/C would be in Florida.

  13. Peter said on January 18, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    Oh Nancy, I can agree with you about cold bathrooms.
    One house I grew up in was a really old frame house, but it had a retrofitted forced air system, with one register right next to the toilet. It was wonderful!!!

    Our current house’s ducts run next to the powder room. We have to keep the pwder room’s door shut because if we don’t the dog will grab the loose end of the toilet paper and run through the house. It makes for a nice warm room, but you can fall asleep from the heat, and that can be a problem!

  14. Jeff said on January 18, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Dante is with Nancy on the ice question; the last three rings of the Inferno are quite chilly, with a Lake o’ Frozen Sinners at the bottom of the nine-circled pit.

    Apologies to all who were hoping for a lake of fire. Of course, Aligheri isn’t exactly Holy Writ, but most people would be surprised by what the actual Bible has to say about Hell. (Short answer: not much, and it’s mainly talking about the Jerusalem town dump. As a metaphor. For what, we don’t know.)

  15. beb said on January 18, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    January 1972 was about as cold as I can remember. I was in my senior year at a small college near Ft. Wayne, living in a hundred year old farm house with three other dudes. The house was heated by an oil feed space heater, the kind you don’t find in houses any more. Being young and stupid, we just kept turning the heater up the colder it got outside. One night I notced that it was glowing dully red. I thought to myself that this can’t be good. Surprisingly we didn’t burn the house down.

  16. Sue said on January 18, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    Connie – Glen Lake as in Sleeping Bear Dunes?

  17. MichaelG said on January 18, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    We’re also having a cold snap here. On the way to work at about 5:00AM there was a bank thermometer reading 33 degrees. That’s plenty cold for me. The normal low here for this time of the year is low to middle forties.

    Ken Levine informs us that in Dallas people are referring to Jessica Simpson as “Yoko Romo”.

  18. john c said on January 18, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    beb’s story reminded me of my early post-college days just outside Boston. I lived with two other guys on the second floor of an old house. Heat was oil, with a big tank in the basement that the oilman had to come and fill. Being 21 and with little disposable income we didn’t have a regular account set up. Many’s the day I’d come home from work on a Friday to find Greg and Russ sitting in the living room with their coats on because we’d run out of oil.

  19. Jen said on January 18, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I don’t really have any fun cold weather stories because I, like Sue, hate the cold. These are the days that I sit in my house shivering under a blanket and wonder why the hell I didn’t move somewhere warmer when I graduated from college. The rest of the seasons remind me why I’m still in Indiana.

  20. michaelj said on January 18, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    It’s not so much the cold, its the astounding weather that it engenders. In ’64, Detroit had a kind of balmy wave. It melted a pile of snow, and suburban lanes and downtown streets were turned into lakes. A few night before I was supposed to get downtown from Bloomfield Township to take the entrance exam for the Jesuit prep school U of D High, the Siberian Express blew through and all of that standing water turned to glacier about 10 in. thick.

    Jebbies weren’t making exceptions for impassable conditions. We were all playing street hockey on ice skates. My mom and dad were thinking about the private school equivalent of Cass Tech. (Everybody in the neighborhood but my dad probably worked for a car company, or J Walter Thompson.) Our neighbor, Dick Homchick (and I’m not making that up, but Dickensian, no?), had a new Chevy that featured front-wheel drive, revolutionary at the time. Put his kids in the trunk and hauled ass around the subdivision with some of us in the trunk, broadcasting Halite donated by every household.

    So we got passable streets. I got to Seven Mile, nailing the entrance test,
    and going to UD High. Always wondered what would have happened if I’d had to go to Southfield and ended up at Michigan instead of Holy Cross, and, eventually, Georgia, where I met my match, married, had one perfect child, and run into a roadblock. Weft and warp. Nature weaving. Hot cold, sunny penumbrous, it seems to me scientifacilly based.

    Weather is something to be absorbed and reveled in, including frigid air. Like what CS Lewis thought about rain. Nancy and her pals didn’t consider the temperature when they ventured out without hats. (The admonishment from a neighbor about wearing hats sounds precious, but I choose to think it was just human concern.)

    So, it’s not the cold, it’s the humanity. Is the’re a way forward? W. told ‘mission etc. Squirrely little piece of shit.

    So, Nancy This is cold? . Of course it’s cold. It’s not that cold Nance.

  21. basset said on January 18, 2008 at 6:41 pm

    a front-wheel-drive ’64 Chevy? you sure about that? a Citroen maybe… first fwd Chevy was the Citation, in about 1980.

    in ’64 the Chevrolet line was the Impala/Bel Air full-size with rear-wheel drive… the Chevelle midsize, the same… Chevy II/Nova compact, rwd again… Corvair, rwd with a rear engine… and the rwd Corvette.

    38 and damp in Nashville right now.

  22. Kim said on January 18, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    OK, one more. It’s actually my husband’s. His folks were returning him to the house he rented with 11 other guys in college. They pulled up (Champaign, IL, dead cold Jan. day) and saw icicles – think glacier – cascading down one side of the house. My husband recalls they did little more than slow down to let him out. Once inside he discovered a couple of roommates trying to figure out how to deal with the pipes that had burst over the break, flooding the entire basement (2 BR, 1 BA, 1 very large bar). They stood at the top of the steps and watched the whitecaps as icy personal belongings bobbed along.

    Still mid-40s in the bathroom. 67 in the rest of the house. 45-ish outside in VA.

  23. virgotex said on January 18, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    My ex and I lived in Yonkers, NY for the last year we were in NY, on Warburton Ave. Across the street from the Hudson River…Warburton had seen grander times but by then all the old Victorians along the river had been chopped up into apartments or razed to make room for multistory apartment complexes. Where we lived was actually only a few blocks up from the “Sam” whose dog told David Berkowitz to go kill people, and Berkowitz’s apt was a few blocks down past that, right before the neighborhood gave way to a serious ghetto between us and downtown Yonkers.
    So, anyway, we lived on a high hill across from the Hudson River Museum and adjoinging park just up from the mighty river itself. It was beautiful there in the winter. The park was a huge bowl of snow and the neighborhood kids wold come and sled. The Hudson a mile or two wide at that point, and it never froze all the way across but it would freeze over along the shore. Being from sunnier climes, I’d never seen that amount of frozen water. We had a dog, so I was out in the weather a lot and approaching the river from a distance, one could hear the layers of ice crunching and breaking and grinding as the waves rocked-it was such an other-worldly sound.
    The whole area was one huge steep hill sweeping down to the river, and the Metro North station was the bottom in the shadow of the old abandoned Otis Elevator Factory. (I kid you not, this neighborhood was like a set out of a Tim Burton movie) The winds off the river were especially fierce in the winter and I actually was blown off balance one morning struggling down the icy hill to the train station.
    Last part:
    One morning in December we were watching the Today show as we were getting ready for work and they were doing a chatty feature about the Rock Center Xmas tree being put up that very day. They were showing helicopter shot of the ginormous tree being brought into the city from upstate, on a barge, flanked by three huge red ornaments, each probably about 6 feet in diameter. Our apartment faced the river and as we watched we slowly became aware of the sound of an approaching helicopter. We looked up, past the television, and out on the river was the tree floating by on its barge, surreally huge ornaments glinting in the sun, trailed by the helicopter that was taking the footage we were watching on the television, with the gorgeous Jersey Palisades in the distance on the other shore.

  24. michaelj said on January 18, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    I went with my best friend Nancy to buy tickets at the Orpheum in Boston. We actually skied in, but the wind was astounding.

    For the Kinks. We found a homeless guy frozen at the theater entrance. I don’t think we could have saved him, but we tried. That’s what cold does to compassionate conservatism. Not a chance.

  25. Connie said on January 18, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    You got it Sue. The view from our dock is the climbing dune across the lake. The most beautiful place in the world.

  26. Connie said on January 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    So speaking of Glen Lake, every summer someone says wouldn’t it be nice if we could live here all year? (Live by the Bay on half the pay)

    Then in February 96 we had to head north from southern Indiana for a family funeral in Traverse City. We hit blowing snow at South Bend on Saturday and we were in blowing snow until we hit South Bend again the following Wed. We all stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Bay and the wind blew so hard the entire time the guests had to park perpendicular to the marked parking spaces in order to open their car doors. It was miserable weather.

    My husband said to me “next summer when I say wouldn’t it be nice to live here all year, remind me of this.”

  27. Peter said on January 18, 2008 at 10:03 pm

    One winter in the early ’80’s it was so cold that my roommate had two car batteries with him – when he was at work or at home he had one sitting on the counter keeping warm; he would take that battery to the car, hook that one up, start the car, and put the other on the passenger seat, which he took to work, and kept the cycle going.

    It wan’t until much later that we thought you could just do it with one battery, but we liked the idea that there was still a semi functioning battery in the car if we needed to go somewhere…

  28. Peter said on January 18, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Oops – forgot one. When we were kids and it was really cold outside, we would do the joke “It was so cold outside (HOW COLD WAS IT) that I saw an eskimo with an icicle hanging from his nose and I said ‘Excuse me sir, but there’s an icicle hanging from your nose’ and he said ‘No, it’s snot'”

  29. sue said on January 18, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    Connie, we stay at Sun Downe Dey cottages for a week every year. That area is my favorite place in the world, and it will be where I buy my SUMMER house when I win the jillion dollar lottery. I think they have like 600 inches of snow a year. But those summer months…

  30. nancy said on January 18, 2008 at 10:37 pm

    We spent the night in Houghton, Mich., before and after our backpacking trip to Isle Royale in ’91. Ate dinner in a local tavern, sat at the bar and struck up a conversation with a local. “What’s it like living here in the winter?”

    He replied: “The first thing you learn is, never buy a used snowblower.”

  31. A Riley said on January 18, 2008 at 11:51 pm

    Oh gosh, let’s see. Back on that Sunday of the cold cold football playoffs (that was actually colder than the cold cold Superbowl), I was living in Evanston IL with some roommates. They were all waitressing their way through grad school and they had to go to work. And among the 3 of us, mine was the only car that would start (a ’76 Celica with over 100,000 miles on it. Great car.). So I drove them up to the restaurant for their shift, and on the way back, the car started to overheat — boiling over & everything! So I pulled in at the Shell station on Chicago avenue right across from the supermarket and asked, How much for a jug of Prestone? And he looked me up and down and said How much you got? (Strangely, I had *just enough.*)

  32. MichaelG said on January 19, 2008 at 12:23 am

    OK, True cold weather stuff: Champaign, Illinois. December, I think, 1965, I think. Walking down the middle of the street with my then girlfriend. It seemed quite warm with no wind and the snow was falling very, very heavily in huge flakes in slow motion and it was loading up on everything at an incredible rate that I had never seen before and haven’t seen since. It was a romantic evening to remember. The snow fall muted all sound and it seemed as if the two of us were the only people in the world. It was a wonderful, sweet night. We were young and in love, and it was all new and wonderful. Later, finals were cancelled and I went out hooning around in an old (but I guess it wasn’t so old then) VW with a couple of friends, bouncing off snow banks and having a high old time.

  33. Vince said on January 19, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Hi. I’m Vince.
    I’m a recovering TV news reporter.

    I began covering weather before the consultants convinced every spineless News Director that it was important to lead the news when a single snowflake fell.
    My four years in Kansas had to be the coldest of my life. No mountains to slow or shift the wind and barely any trees. But snow snow snow. Once we ventured west from Wichita to cover a true blizzard.

    The goal: make it to Dodge City. A roadblock at Bucklin should have stopped us. But we’re the news! Coming through!

    We barreled on into the white. 40 mile per hour winds kept the snow stirred. Visibility dropped from a couple hundred feet to a dozen. With the road closed we didn’t have to worry about encountering traffic and in a white out there was no yellow stripe to follow.

    But I could barely make out the tops of telephone poles, just their tips, sticking up above either side of the road. So I aimed for the empty gap between them. It had to be the road.

    And it was.
    That white stuff out there too had to be snow.
    And it was.

    There was more snow than road. Thankfully, I may have been foolish to have pressed on down the road, but I wasn’t driving fast. I grounded our SUV in a 10-foot snowdrift piled directly in the highway at about 15 miles per hour.
    4-wheel drive mean nothing. We were high centered.

    We had only one option. Go hike for help. So we hiked half a mile in 40-below windchill in an absolute whiteout aiming for a mailbox we thought we’d seen by the road. After 30 minutes of walking, we found it and the farmer who lived there. He graciously used his pickup to pull us out.
    But not before we shot some video of our grounded news vehicle.

    A good thing we got some pictures too.
    It led the news that night.

  34. Connie said on January 19, 2008 at 6:35 am

    Sue, my folks bought a trailer at Dorsey’s when I was a kid, and the cottage down the road ten years later. We do rent it for 4 weeks a summer. It didn’t take a lottery win (it might now), the house is across the street from its lakefront stretch. And it is the shallowest part of Little Glen, great for little kids but the adults usually go elsewhere to swim.

    So I’ve been going to Sleeping Bear since BEFORE the National Park. I remember going on the old dune ride with my grandma.

    If you’d like more info, or just want to talk about yearning for Glen Lake, Nancy has my permission to give you my email address.

  35. basset said on January 19, 2008 at 7:59 am

    Snow snow snow indeed. Wind wind wind too. I worked at the same place as Vince, for some of the same time, and after storms like that passed over it wasn’t unusual to see snowdrifts lined up behind individual fence poles, as wide as the pole and twenty or thirty yards long, gradually tapering down to the ground.

    Doing tv news in northern Michigan a few years before that offered plenty of news-car-in-the-snow experiences; I will mail Nancy a pic and see if she wants to post it.

  36. Jeff said on January 19, 2008 at 8:28 am

    If you’re thinking about living through the winter up on Mackinac Island, here’s enough of a taste to satisfy most people (don’t buy a used snowmobile, either):

    http://www.neatmail.com/hornscam/twebcam32.jpg

    I like to look in from time to time, but that’ll do it. As for Little Traverse and Petoskey, ditto:

    http://www.gaslightmedia.com/cameras/images/Little_Traverse_Bay.jpg

    There is a nice view from that one of the bay, except when the snow falls with a northwest wind, and packs tight against the window where the webcam is. Which it’s doing right now.

  37. nancy said on January 19, 2008 at 9:09 am

    Great story, Vince.

    Also, great “story.” That being: Hey, it’s snowing, something anyone with eyes in their head could have gleaned from a glance out the window.

    Love doing those weather stories. My faves were the ones where we had, say, morning fog, or morning freezing drizzle, and the editors at our (p.m.) newspaper would flog us to lock up Page One with a big ol’ weather story. If you complained, they’d get on their high horses and say, “When OUR READERS come home tonight, they’re going to want to KNOW why they were late for work today.”

    And we’d reply, “Isn’t that pretty obvious?”

    Bad, bad, reporter. Keep making those phone calls.

    So we’d kill ourselves calling the NOAA and NWS offices, where many of the staff were equally mystified by our editors’ keen interest (“Well, we’re having some fog today. Fog forms when,” etc.). And we’d get a big story out. And it would arrive on doorsteps hours later, when the temperature had risen 10 or 20 degrees, the fog had lifted and the freezing drizzle melted. And people would learn just why they’d been late for work.

  38. Vince said on January 19, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Nance, at least that weather had some impact, albeit temporary.
    What galls me is LIVE! Team Coverage! day after frigid day when the weather taunts us but causes no impact.

    Once, here in rainy Portland, I was paged in the middle of a story shoot to immediately stop my story, drive to north Portland and shoot video of snow falling. This was about noon. We got there, saw some flakes falling but none if stuck and shot 30 seconds of flakes in the air.

    The snow stopped within 30 minutes and did not resume all day long.

    Was I allowed to return to my original story and pass the quick flake video to our weather guy?

    Nope. I was ordered to stay there for 6 more hours. The snow that spit and stopped and did not stick and had no impact was their lead story that night, naturally LIVE!

    And so gentle readers, I ask for compassion towards those reporters stuck LIVE! in the weather. They know exactly how stupid they look but it’s their managers who require it.

  39. Kim said on January 19, 2008 at 11:59 am

    Great stories, all. MichaelG, I had that sort of Champaign experience in 1980 but with rain. I paid for it with pneumonia, and it was worth every moment of illness, every hour I spent at McKillme.

    The last weather story I ever filed was during a stupid snowstorm in VA. Knowing I’d be tapped to write about it, I made a preemptive suggestion: Go to the local DQ and interview people ordering Blizzards. The “brite” would have a total WTF edge to it, as the snow would be gone by morning, when folks would read the story. To my utter amazement, my usually quite literal editor bit. I almost got away with it until the next ed. up decided what the idea really needed was me to contact all sorts of businesses that wouldn’t do well in snow — like carwashes. The first five inches of the story were hilarious, and then you hit the brick. (not unlike my career)

    I can’t wait to see if The Wire has a weather story. It’s gotta.

  40. basset said on January 19, 2008 at 1:11 pm

    we used to call it the “bridge watch”… “I’m live on the Fern Street overpass, as you can see traffic is moving right along…”

    the furthest I ever went on a non-snow chase was about 150 miles out of Nashville… but we had an old-timer photographer who decided one day to follow his orders to the letter and take off up the interstate toward the storm that was supposed to be bearing down on us, calling in every half-hour or so to report no snow yet, not here… he got within an hour of St. Louis before the desk turned him around.

  41. MichaelG said on January 19, 2008 at 5:53 pm

    OK, a true Cold story this time. I grew up in a suburb of Chicago. One super cold morning I was leaving the house to walk to High School. We had had an ice storm and ice covered everything. Beautiful and awful at the same time. I turned in time to see the woman who lived next door approaching her car with a large steaming pot. I opened my mouth to shout “NOOO!!” but before I could get a sound out she had poured the boiling water on the windshield of her car. The resulting “CRAAKK” must have been heard for blocks. Her windshield simply disappeared. It was all over the dash, front seat and floor.

    VA, huh Kim? My daughter lives in Yorktown.

  42. Andrew Jarosh said on January 19, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    It’s expected to be in the mid/upper-40s for about two nights, and Kohl’s in Fort Myers is having a run on it’s sweaters.
    Really.
    The weather here spoils you. I am wearing flip flops at 8 p.m. on a Saturday IN JANUARY.
    Stay warm.
    Andrew

  43. brian stouder said on January 19, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    My daughter lives in Yorktown.

    A few years back we vacationed in the Williamsburg area; visited Colonial Williamsburg (which was a lot more interesting than I thought it would be), and Busch Gardens, and Norfolk Naval Base (pre-9/11 they conducted a pretty extensive tour…I suspect things are different nowadays)

    And – we drove down a parkway from Williamsburg to Yorktown, which was very, very beautiful and interesting. The National Park Service ranger who conducted the battlefield tour was an attractive young woman with a Russian accent. I’m a huge Civil War reader, but honestly I don’t know a hill of beans about the Revolutionary War – so I was paying attention to her narrative, and it was full of details and narrative sweep. She fielded lots and lots of questions and never missed a beat. It was marvelous…plus, the setting there – gentle green hills rolling down to the wide blue Chesapeake Bay – was just sublime.

    If I have my druthers – retiring to Western Maryland or to the Tidewater region of Virginia would be heaven, pretty much

  44. sue said on January 19, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Nancy, send me Connie’s address, please. And Andrew, my in-laws used to spend every winter in Tucson, calling us with similar painful descriptions of warm weather. They moved back permanently to IL this past summer. Since it is currently minus 8 here in southeastern Wisconsin, I’m guessing it’s between 0 and minus 4 where they are. I’ll have to call them and ask them how the weather is.

  45. A Riley said on January 19, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    More mid ’80s cold weather. I was going home from Chicago to visit the family in Indy on December 23 or so, taking the Amtrak. And it was so freekin cold that switches were frozen solid and no trains were going — or coming in from the west, either. One train came straggling in way late (and there’s no late like Amtrak late — we’re talking 18 hours) and a woman said they ran out of food & everything. Union Station was a madhouse. So I gave up, went home, called Mom & told her I wouldn’t be making it that day, but I’d try the next day.

    So the next day i went down to Union Station again, and they’d dug some trains out of some museum somewhere (I swear) and I got to Indianapolis, way late. My sister picked me up in the sports car that her husband had traded her VW rabbit for (she never forgave him for that) and of course it had no heat. And as we rode back to her place, she said their pipes had frozen and they had no hot water, hope that wasn’t too much of a worry.

    That’s when I resolved never to travel for Christmas again.

  46. Michael said on January 19, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    Here in Puerto Rico it’s cold, too. I’ve had to dig a blanket out of the closet and turn off the ceiling fan for the past few nights. We were up in Indiana just after Christmas, though, visiting my folks — we got lucky, too! It snowed! The kids were ecstatic. We went sledding in 15 degrees and stayed out until my feet were gangrenous. Or definitely toying with the notion; happily they warmed up with only minimal pain upon our return.

    You never know what you’re going to get, any more, when you book a week in Indiana. I’m totally happy it wasn’t a week of 36-degree drizzle.

  47. Kim said on January 19, 2008 at 10:17 pm

    Jesus, what a small world (almost small enough I’d paint it).

    I live in Yorktown — am I your daughter, MichaelG?! I live adjacent to those battlefields, Brian, and that’s where I bike. Twenty-one miles, especially beautiful and dangerous at dawn or dusk during rutting season when a buck will take. you. out. to chase a purdy doe. You can sometimes hear them blasting through the woods, but I usually just about fly off the bike for fear. I kayak from my backyard (actually, Wormley Creek) onto the York River, where the British caught hell from the French and Americans. My daughter and I were out about 10 days ago and saw two bald eagles, one juvenile and the other an adult. Those are birds I only saw in cigarette advertisements when I was growing up in Chicago (actually, a suburb. But you knew that, MichaelG, as my father, right?) My eldest was just running in the battlefields Thursday and saw an otter. It is wonderful, Brian. I’m glad you had such an experience here.

    So. Nance, another request to share private e-mail w/MichaelG. And Brian, when you decide it’s time to move here let me know. My neighborhood is a well-kept secret and you usually have to know somebody old who’s dying/moving (same thing, I guess) to buy a 1950s ranch house built by guys who put men on the moon but couldn’t make a good decision about mechanics or construction to save their lives. Still, my homemade house is worth it.

    Guess this thread proves the point we mock: Weather is talkin’ news.