I realize we are in the heart of winter, but how about a little help from global warming? For years we have heard predictions of the world warming. To me it looks like the only place the prediction of warming is making a difference is California.
Southern California is in the 80s and they have not had any measurable rain fall in months. The land of movie stars and traffic jams is bone dry. The one good thing about their abnormal weather is high surf. So special is the high waves that surfers from all over the world came to ride the 50-foot waves this past week. Seems a little odd to watch news telling of terrible weather in most of the country just before the story of surfing in 80-degree weather.
If you have watched the weather lately, no doubt you have seen the polar vortex coming south to bring us sub-freezing cold temperatures. Before a couple of weeks ago, I did not realize a polar vortex was a real condition. I thought it was a polar blast or Alberta Clipper. I guess they think a polar vortex plays better on the evening news. At first I thought it sounded like a weather phenomenon that the SyFy channel invented to make one of their disaster movies for TV.
Arctic air driving the vortex has dropped outside air to below zero in much of the north part of the country. That is when weathermen place a minus sign in front of the number indicating how bad it is outside. If the negative temperature is not bad enough, the weather people now make a point out of telling us the wind chill factor. If the temperature of minus 10 is not bad enough they take great pleasure in telling us it feels more like -30 outside by the wind chill factor. I somehow think in an advertising agency somewhere they came up with the polar vortex and pushing the wind chill factor.
Have you noticed the news media is now giving names to winter storms? The Weather Channel began last year giving storms proper names. They believed that it was a successful campaign last season by naming 27 weather events. They once again decided to name the 2013-2014 winter storms. Perhaps it is believed by personalizing the weather it helps people identify with the storms. Well, if you are like me I would like to forget the winter weather and look forward to spring.
For me, it seems the weather this year is close to what I remember growing up in Wetzel County as a child. When I was a kid the weather seemed so bad that I walked up hill in the snow to school, both ways. Well, I know that is an exaggeration, but the weather in the 60s was cold and snowy all winter long. I remember getting up and seeing that it had snowed overnight. Mom would have WETZ on the radio and listening for word of school cancelations. Somehow it seemed no matter how bad it was outside, they rarely canceled school.
On those days when winter weather canceled school, it gave the kids in my neighborhood a reason to build a fire down by the old pond near my home. The pond froze over and gave us kids hours of skating enjoyment. We would clear the snow from the ice and spend the day gliding over the pond’s surface. When we got cold and wet we warmed ourselves by the roaring fire. Those winter skating events give us hours of enjoyment and never cost a dime and we did not need electronic devices with apps.
In the extra cold years, we got a special treat when Fishing Creek froze over. We built a fire on the frozen water to stay warm. Then, we would see how far we could skate down the creek on a make believe North Pole adventure. It was fun to skate away from the fire into the darkness of the creek. The sounds of our skates gliding on the ice echoed off the hidden hillside. A crisp slick sound gave us indication of solid ice below our feet. If the sound became dull and slushy, we knew it may not be solid. The sounds of the ice cracking in the night reminded us it was time to return to the safety of the fire burning over the frozen water.
The 2014 winter has brought thick ice back to the surface of creeks and ponds. The polar vortex cold temperatures have returned ice to the Ohio River once again. Above the dam the river is almost completely frozen over, except for the path cut through the ice by a passing barge. A flock of Canadian geese search to find an opening in the river to wait for better weather.
“It is the first time in 25 years that I can remember seeing ice below the dam,” Chuck Stora, plant manager of the hydroelectric plant told me last week. He explained the dam went to a condition known as, seal. It is when the U S Army Corps of Engineers holds the water above the dam to maintain pool level. This allows the water below the dam to be still long enough to begin freezing.
If the winter storm has a name or the cold air is a gift of a rare polar vortex, it has been a long cold winter and we have a ways to go until the snows melt for the last time. We each try and find ways to make it through the long winter and into spring. Maybe this will help a little. In a little over a week spring training will begin. Throughout the month of February players know as the “boys of spring” return to the great American past time, baseball. For my wife, she knows NASCAR will soon return and bring warmer temperatures.
I know that everyone may not be thrilled about baseball or NASCAR, but it is a sure sign that before long spring will return, bringing warmer temperatures. Distant memories of the polar vortex and snow storms with names will begin to fade as we once again look Thru the Lens.