Yesterday we saw an odd phenomenon in Columbus: the sun was out, the sky was a brilliant blue, and there were actually shadows on the ground.
If you think that’s not a big deal, that’s because you haven’t spent a winter in Columbus. Columbus is one of the cloudiest cities in the United States during the core winter months of December, January, and February. According to statistics compiled by the National Climatic Data Center, Columbus experiences dense cloud cover on 67 percent of the days during those three months. That puts Columbus 7th on a dubious national list of the cloudiest major cities in the country during the winter. (Portland, Seattle, and Buffalo are the top three.)
And I’m not sure that the 67 percent figures really captures the bleakness of a Columbus winter, either. The NCDC “dense cloud” standard purports to measure the grey (or in some cases, white) winter days when more than three-quarters of the sky is covered in cloud. That doesn’t mean that the other 33 percent of Columbus days feature bright sunshine, it just means that they don’t quite reach the required three-quarter cloud cover standard. So, they might be two-thirds cloud cover, or half cloud cover. A day where the sky is a bright blue, like yesterday, is as rare as hen’s teeth.
Columbus is not a place where you’d choose to spend the winter if you’ve got Seasonal Affective Disorder — but it you have to be here, regardless, you relish the non-SAD days, and you try to remember that the spring, summer, and fall days will restore your spirits.
Grandma Neal often said: “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can; it’s seldom found in woman, but never found in man.”
Winter in the Midwest has a way of teaching patience.
Consider freezing rain. When it hits, as it did this morning, there’s not much you can do. With your car windows and windshield covered in a thick coat of wet ice, you’ve got to wait until the defroster melts part of the ice before you can even start scraping. And you’d better take you time walking, too.
There’s a turning point each winter. For weeks the trend has been gradual cooling, to the point where you’re acclimated to temperatures that are about 40 degrees. Then, suddenly, the mercury plummets, and you’re dealing with the first significant snowfall, or the first truly frigid day where the temperature falls below 20.
This used to be a surprise. Unless you were someone who actually watched the local news — and who under the age of 90 watches the local news these days? — you had no idea what the weather was going to be. There’s a reason why the nuns in The Sound of Music sang about Maria being as “unpredictable as weather.” The weather was a constant surprise.
But that was in the days before weather apps on smartphones became ubiquitous. Now, when you tap your weather app to see if it’s supposed to rain today, you’re automatically exposed to a solid week’s worth of forecasts — and you can’t help but look at it. And when I checked the app this morning, I saw that we’re supposed to get a steady diet of lows in the teens, then two days of snow, and finally a day where the low is three degrees. Three degrees! I like the song When Will I See You Again? as much as the next R&B fan, but “three degrees” isn’t a word combination I want to hear right now. It means that the turning point is here, and winter is about to strike with all of its brutal iciness, and it’s time to rotate to the heavier coats and clothing and to start eating hot food at every meal.
I liked it better when the turning point caught me by surprise, and I spent the last few days of pre-winter unaware of what was to come right around the corner, rather than bracing myself for the onslaught.
We touched the 20s overnight last night, and this morning we had the first notable frost of the season — one that coated the mums and grass and fallen leaves at Schiller Park.
We’re supposed to have a few more days of moderately warm weather, but the overall message is clear: it’s time to quote the Starks’ favorite saying.
We woke up this March 4 morning to a fine coating of powdery snow. It made for some pretty scenes in black and white as I trudged to work, but it also made me realize we’re in the weather silly season, when it can be in the 60s and sunny and spring-like one day and in the 20s, bleak and wintry a day or two later.
In the Midwest, Old Man Winter just doesn’t go away easily. He’ll keep us in his icy clutches for as long as he possibly can — the bastard!
Of all seasons of the year, I think I hate the end of winter the most. It always brings the worst weather conditions of the year.
It would be nice to have cold weather and snow on the ground until the end of winter came abruptly and conclusively. In one day, the temperature would bounce from 20 to 55, all the snow would melt, and thereafter the thermometer would never go below 50.
Of course, that never happens. Instead, we get this interim period of slop and slush and ice filled water and treacherous footing and wet shoes. The snow melts, then we get freezing rain, then the mercury plunges again and everything freezes over. Winter drags on, and on, and you never know when it’s truly over.
In a word, it blows.
It has been brutally cold here in Columbus, with several below-zero days. Yesterday we got a lot of snow and the temperature almost hit 32 — but we didn’t quite make it, and now the mercury is plunging down again and more frigid weather is in the forecast.
I’m not complaining; other parts of the country have had it worse than us. In fact, there is cold, snowy weather throughout the heartland of America. A photo taken of middle America by NASA’s Terra satellite shows the wide snow belt, with the Buckeye State right smack dab in the middle. It makes me shiver just to look at it.
Hey, it’s winter — what did you expect?