Column: Heavy Chicago snowfall, harsh winter explained: It’s all my fault.

Rex Huppke, Chicago Tribune
·4 min read

The Chicago area is dealing with what’s known in meteorological circles as “a buttload” of snow. It’s white, running about waist high and a bit on the chilly side.

And it’s all my fault. Every shovel full of snow you’ve hoisted, every flake that has fallen, is on me. And I apologize.

On Jan. 25, I wrote a column about how I don’t believe in snow. Under the headline “A major Chicago snowstorm? That’s what the media want you to believe!” I shared my “perfectly reasonable and defensible opinion that snow is a hoax.”

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Columns are opinion content that reflect the views of the writers.

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I accused those who say snow is real of being “in the pocket of Big Parka.” And I wrote the following, which I now very much regret:

“Some say snow is real because they see it and feel it and because their cars slide off the road when it’s falling. I say it’s not real because I grew up in a Florida strip mall and never saw it, and if my car slides into a ditch during a so-called snowstorm, I believe it was caused by God picking my car up and putting it where it needed to be.”

Since that column ran, the Chicago region has experienced relentless frigid temperatures and been hit with enough snow to wipe out a herd of tauntauns. I have shoveled “that which I once thought fake” so much that my forearms are Popeye-esque and my spine is locked in the shape of a “C.”

Proof of my responsibility for this winter weather can be found in this excerpt from a recent report by my colleague Todd Lighty, in which he quotes Trent Ford, the Illinois state climatologist. Keep in mind, the “snow is fake news” column was published Jan. 25:

“Ford said that as of Jan. 24, according to the severity index, Chicago was experiencing a ‘record mildest winter.’ That was due to above-normal high temperatures and a paucity of snow. That changed when a wave of winter storms tracked into the Midwest and brought snow, especially to northern Illinois. Since the end of January, it has snowed 13 of the past 17 days.”

Oops.

Prior to my column, we had a “record mildest winter.” Since my column, “it has snowed 13 of the past 17 days.”

I feel really bad about this.

Not only did I doom Chicagoans to a rough winter, I managed to upset my longtime pal, WGN-Ch. 9 meteorologist Tom Skilling.

I reached out to him via email Tuesday to see if he agreed my column was responsible for the weather, and this was his response:

“Thanks Rex!! Just what we needed — a foot and a half of snow! And something clearly brought on by your declaration of the snow as a ‘hoax.’ Well, tell all among us forced to shovel the 17.9-inches of your ‘hoax’ off their front walks here in the city this morning! And I’m sure all at Street & San were happy to man their plows to clear the roads of Huppke’s ‘hoax’! Do me a favor, DON’T declare Spring around here a ‘hoax.’ God only knows what THAT might bring on!!!”

What have I done? I made the nicest man on the planet angry.

The truth is, I got swept up in a cult of precipitation denialism. The group — known as SnowAnon — told me the things I wanted to hear. Things like “there is no snow” and “you can’t feel guilty about not shoveling something that isn’t there” and “snow plows are just vehicles Satanists use to intimidate patriotic Americans.”

It felt good to be part of something. It felt nice to have all my baseless suspicions confirmed by other people who also had no basis for their suspicions.

But I know now my days with SnowAnon carried a cost. I lost friends over my relentless social media posts about how pictures of snow-capped mountains are all photoshopped and how the so-called Winter Olympics is actually a quadrennial meeting of powerful meteorologists hellbent on global domination. (Sorry again, Tom.)

I embarrassed my family by standing near the snow shovel display at Walmart yelling “WAKE UP, SHEEPLE!!” at other customers.

And, as evidenced by the weather that followed my Jan. 25 column, I have caused everyone in the greater Chicago area to endure so much snow that the city is now rated the “No. 1 vacation destination” in Penguin Travel magazine. I caused such a colossal pileup of powder that the viral video of a Kentucky man using a flamethrower to clear snow from his driveway now seems more inspirational than absurd.

I ask your forgiveness and your patience as I work through this difficult phase of SnowAnon deprogramming and attempt to reconnect with family members, who have forced me to sleep in an igloo in the backyard the past three weeks.

I have signed up for Skilling’s famed “Snow Is Real: Deal With It” seminar and, as penance, will shovel the driveways and sidewalks of all the people I have wronged.

That might take some time, as there are many of you. Please be patient.

I should get there by August. At which time I will share with you my theories on “fake humidity.”

rhuppke@chicagotribune.com