Thursday, February 28, 2008

On the Rocks

I'm not normally one to spend a lot of time grousing about the weather, but I think I can safely make an exception for the winter we're having right now. It's been a bitch, plain and simple.

Whether it was the first freezing rain-sleet-snow-hard freeze back on December 1, the 13-inch near-blizzard on February 6 or the rain-freezing rain-sleet-snow-hard freeze we had back on February 17, (a record 1.3 inches of rain) when I spent 3 hours helping neighbors unplug four storm drains so the street flooding would abate, it's been the worst I can remember. We've gotten over 87 inches of snow overall (the old record was 76.1 for the entire winter of 1978-79) and we still have March and April to go. If we end up getting average snowfall for the rest of the season, we're on track to end up with a total of 100 inches.

What the hell is this, did I die and end up in Buffalo? It's like Old Man 'Sconny Winter is playing the Rumble in the Jungle's Ali to our Foreman—for the last four or five years it's been pretending to be on the ropes; all oh, I just don't have any snow left and sure, go ahead and wear your short sleves in December or woe is me, Global Warming—and then this year, just when we're thinking our winters are some kind of cakewalk, POW! Right in the ever-lovin' kisser. We went right on our butts and are gonna be lucky to make it to the count of nine.

My neighbor across the street, a firefighter and EMT, was telling me yesterday that it's really staring to take it's toll. Between the cabin fever and the general difficulty getting around if they do leave the house, people are starting to get sick or lose their grip on reality. I've noticed that motorists now treat red lights as more of a suggestion than a hard-and-fast rule. Why? I presume because this is what passes for good driving conditions lately:

On most side streets the ice cover has become so rough they're are like lunar landscapes, but with water and more gravity:

Potholes the size of kiddie pools are showing up in the pavement all over town. The bike paths, on the other hand, remain either hardpack snow (good) or rutted ice (baaaad):

Me? I haven't been riding much. Well, I have, but it's been mostly on the bus. When I do ride the bike, I take some extra precautions, like wearing Get-a-Grip Ultra traction devices over my Lake winter boots:

(Got a pair of MXZ300 bootss at the Swap for $50—they're good down to about 10 degrees f with a couple pairs of wool socks. I wear an 11, and these are 12.5's, which still aren't quite big enough. But I digress.)

If any single picture could tell the story of the winter we're having, this would be it:

Here we have a 50-gallon plastic pickle barrel at the corner of Winnebago and Riverside that would normally be two-thirds full of salt sand, but this winter it's empty before the end of February. Uff da.

Wow, I sure feel better now.

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