One of the planes that I boarded for a work trip took a wrong turn, dropping me off somewhere other than South Dakota. And while I was in the air, the CIA uprooted my family and recreated our house and our hometown in a locale that’s more southern than any Dakota. Everyone I know is in on the conspiracy.
That scenario is more likely than what’s actually going on in Sioux Falls this winter. That is, there has been no winter. It’s more like an extended fall or premature spring. There’s no snow on the ground. None. Besides that, it’s not even very cold.
Here’s what December was like, according to Weather.com:
* There was a total of 0.32 inches of precipitation. I’m no mathematician, but that’s like, what, just enough to keep you from having to go to the car wash?
* The low for the month was minus-2. But that was a one-day event, the only time it dipped below zero. Another 13 days, the low was in the 20s. That’s in line with the usual highs for the month.
* It hit 50 degrees twice, and went into the 40s eight other days. Some golf courses have reopened, for crying out loud.
Plus, there’s been very little wind (which is unusual because one neighboring state sucks and the other blows, as the old joke goes). Sunday was an exception, but even that wasn’t so bad considering the temps hovered near 30.
Incredibly, January is shaping up to be at least as nice. For example, the high Thursday is expected to be 56, and there’s no snow in the 10-day forecast. That is utterly insane. As an aside, it turns out the average temp in Sioux Falls in the month of January ranges from 26-28. That’s higher than I thought. The point being that every week this continues is less time for the deep freeze to set in. It feels like we’re getting away with something.
I’ve lived in four states in my life: North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. And I’ve largely enjoyed them all – except for the winter weather. Without fail, I end up spending a good chunk of the unrelenting season cussing under my breath about how much the cold stinks, promising myself that I’m not going to go through it again even it means having to live under a bridge somewhere. Dammit. Except every spring I calm down.
When fall sets in, I turn to another running joke, trying to convince myself and those around me that this will be the year that winter just passes us by, the one time that we’re the land Jack Frost forgot. Not that I’m taking credit for this. It’s more likely that global warming is to blame, er, thank. I’m not going to get into all of that; I won’t let science and all of its “facts” get me down.
The lack of winter makes life easier in so many ways. No bundling up the kids until they look like Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (which would be especially weird since my kids are girls). No starting cars to keep them warm or jumping cars because they’ve been frozen to death. No shoveling or snow blowing or throwing down salt. No tiny, careful steps on icy sidewalks, no flailing like a tap-dancer to avoid falling. No wet, dirty messes in the entry way of every home and business.
I travel a lot for work, and not once this winter have I had a trip canceled or delayed. In fact, I haven’t even had one harrowing, 45-mph drive back from Brookings, something that happened maybe twice a week last winter. It’s no big deal to go to the gym or to run errands. To that end, somebody should do a study – these unseasonably warm temps have to be better for our health and for the economy (unless you drive a snowplow for a living).
These things are no big deal to people in California, but they define our lives in the upper Midwest. We often try to turn it around, pretend that it somehow makes us more hearty than the rest, try to make it fun by creating snowmobiles and sleds and hockey rinks. I mean, how many times has someone told you that the freezing temps, “keeps the riffraff out”? But that’s a bunch of hooey. I hate cold and ice and snow; always have, always will.
So, thanks, God or Al Gore or ancient Mayans, for giving us a break this winter. We owe you a solid.