Winter weather is something you love or hate

·5 min read

As I seat myself in front of my computer to write this, the mercury is taking its first real nosedive of winter. I just checked the forecast and I’m looking at too many single digits for my taste.

I’m no fan of winter, but we still hang around these cold-weather months because the first tastes of spring are scrumptious. I’d surely hate to miss those. That’s one reason we don’t head to the deep South for the winter.

As winters go, this one has been rather mild – hardly any snow and moderate temperatures have been the rule. We who call central Illinois home 12 months a year have seen much worse, and we’ve survived. In 2014, I wrote the following about winter in our midst.

I suspect a lot of us in Logan County these days are … well, how do I put this kindly? Nuts!

There, I’ve said it, probably insulting a bunch of you as I did. But, hopefully you noticed that I include myself in this category. Certainly, if we aren’t impaired, we surely are brutes for punishment.

I’m talking about the weather, specifically, our winter weather in central Illinois. As it does almost every January that I’ve been around, the mercury does its best to find an overnight hangout deep in the basement. But, we haven’t had it so bad – both last winter and this season. We haven’t seen temperatures plunge well below zero, as has been the case in winters past, and we haven’t waded up to our hips in snow this winter – at least not yet, and hopefully we won’t be doing that at all in this winter of 2012-13.

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I confess, I like our weather – the four seasons with all the uniqueness they bring, and yes, the extremes, as long as they don’t pose threats to life, limb, property and our economic well-being. And those extremes? They indeed reflect a broad spectrum, according to Chris Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln, who has access to every weather record that’s been set here since 1905, the earliest known official weather statistics for the city

The hottest temperature on record for Lincoln is 113 degrees, set on July 15, 1936. “To put that into perspective, our hottest temperatures this past summer were 102 on July 6 and July 7,” Miller said.

Dan Tackett
Dan Tackett

And Lincoln’s coldest day? It was 29 degrees below zero, set the day after Christmas in 1914. “The most recent occurrence of getting close to that value was minus 25 on Jan. 5, 1999, which is the second coldest temperature on record in Lincoln,” Miller noted.

In winter, I can get almost obsessive about making sure I have plenty of firewood under cover in the garage in case we get that heavy snow or painfully cold temperatures. I really don’t like running my furnace to keep warm when I have a great wood stove and plentiful stacks of seasoned hardwood in my backyard.

And, I simply can’t ignore ice and snow on my driveway. I don’t care if it’s a half-inch or a foot or better, I want to get to get it cleared. I inherited an old snow blower from a good, generous neighbor, but I haven’t used it much in the years it’s been in my possession.

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I keep looking at those new, high-tech manual tools that are pitched via slick names like the Arctic Blast Ergonomic Aluminum Snow Shovel, the 24-inch Poly Sleigh Snow Shovel or this one, which might just be the ultimate in non-powered driveway cleaning tools: the Suncast 20-inch snow shovel/pusher combo “with ergonomic shaped comfort grip handle, no stick graphite blade and wear strip.” With all those features, who would be foolish enough to buy a snow blower?

To answer that question, I have no farther to look than a couple of houses down the street in my neighborhood. There resides Keith Johnson, his wife Sandy and his umpteen-horsepower, electric start, two-stage snow blower with a mouth as big as a monster alligator. I swear, that machine has enough guts to blow snow from Lincoln to Paducah, Ky.

Every time there’s a measurable amount of snow on the ground, Johnson and his monster snow blower emerge early in the morning from his garage. He does his driveway and those of a couple of neighbors before packing up his machine and heading into town, presumably to help friends and family with their snow removal chores.

I know that he knows I also have a snow blower, and he must think I’m a bit off my rocker when he drives by and spots me with my show shovel (it’s non-ergonomic, by the way) pushing snow off my driveway. But I don’t dream of a bigger snow blower; instead, I think about giving in to all the marketing hype and buying one of those new-fangled snow scoops.

Now that I’m retired, I suppose heading south to escape winter’s wrath is an option. I know lots of local folks who do that. At the moment, that’s not for me. I’ll prefer to stick around. I’d hate to miss the first tell-tale signs of spring.

Dan Tackett is a retired managing editor of The Courier.

This article originally appeared on Lincoln Courier: Winter weather in central Illinois

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