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Posts Tagged ‘Snow’

I love to shovel snow.  No, I’m serious.  I really enjoy it.  My goal has always been to get the driveway and sidewalk completely clean after a snowfall.  So I start by removing as much snow as possible.  Then I take a metal scraper out and run it over any places where the snow has been pressed down, whether by feet or car tires or whatever.  Once that’s done, I bevel the snow on the edge of the driveway so it’s all nice and even.  It takes a while, but the results are worth it.

I write all that as though it still happens.  It doesn’t.  I’m no longer allowed to shovel snow.  The surgeon that fixed my back last October put shoveling at the top of the list of no-nos.  So now the neighbors tackle it with their snow blowers or my wife takes care of it.  I watch from inside the house.

The Sahara Desert is the largest desert in the world.  Well, technically it’s not because scientists consider the Arctic and Antarctica to be larger deserts.  I don’t know how they’re deserts, but there are a ton of things I don’t know.  Anyways, the Sahara is about as large as the continental United States, and it’s one of the hottest places on earth, with an average temperature approaching 90°F.  If ever there was a place that it wouldn’t snow, it would be in these vast three-and-a-half million North African square miles.

Oh, but it has snowed in the Sahara.  In January of 2012, the desert got snow.  But it’s pretty rare.  In fact, in my digging around, I could only find two instances when snowfall was recorded:  last year and February 18, 1979.

That first snowfall took Algerians by complete surprise, even though it lasted but half an hour.  And it probably snarled traffic and closed schools, despite the fact that it was gone before sundown.  The really good thing is that the sand trucks probably didn’t have far to go to fill up.  I wonder if the kids knew to have a snowball fight, or make a snowman, or snow angels…I hope so.

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As some of you know (or as you’ve probably figured out), I’m a wuss when it comes to cold weather.  I simply can’t stand it.  Heat and humidity?…fine by me.  Rain?…bring it on.  Storms?…oh yeah!!  But cold?…no way.  So you can imagine that when our temperatures plunged last week, I was hating it.  Some giant Arctic air mass came down from…well…the Arctic, and those Canadians just let it come right on through.

It hit us hard last Wednesday afternoon with super-bitter cold (at least by Iowa standards).  I know it gets lots colder elsewhere…we’ve talked about it before, but this is Iowa, not the polar regions.  When I went to work Thursday morning, the bank display indicated -22°F, which is as cold as I’ve ever experienced.  It stayed below zero all day Thursday and all that night.  Friday’s bank-display passing was little better, at -16°F, but then the “warmup” started.  Since then, we’ve been in the 20’s and 30’s and all is right with the world again…it feels like summer.  Still, my wife and I are considering moving someplace warmer…like Puerto Rico.

That cold blast was felt all the way into the south, as temps in Atlanta dipped into the teens.  Our good friends in southern Florida, however, were mostly spared, as Miami’s temps remained in the mid to upper 60’s.  Of course, Miami rarely sees cold weather, or even cool weather.  And the city has almost never seen snow…almost.

On January 19, 1977, Miami got snow for the first (and only…so far) time in recorded history.  I’m no weather expert, but others are, and they say that some very unusual weather patterns that winter caused all kinds of temperature records to be broken in the southern United States.  On the 18th, Pensacola got a couple inches of snow, and high winds pushed the cold air, and the flakes, further and further south.  Before sunrise on the 19th, Palm Beach reported snow.  And throughout the morning, snow would fall in and around Miami.

Of course, the National Weather Service at Miami’s airport didn’t actually receive any snow, so no official snowfall was recorded.  But trace amounts were recorded all around the city.  And as the afternoon rolled around, temperatures warmed sufficiently to melt whatever was on the ground.

Within a couple days, temps would return to normal, but the cold had caused immense damage to Florida’s citrus and vegetable industry.  Entire crops were completely wiped out.  So, while residents of Miami got to see actual snowfall and the kids ran around like it was Christmas, the entire country paid (with higher produce prices) for that once-in-a-lifetime event.

It’s another grain of sand in the ever-growing pile that counts the reasons why I don’t like the cold…

Recommended Reading:  The Weather Doctor – Want more technical details?  Go here for the scoop.

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