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Thread: Winter: the good, the bad, and the ugly

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Winter: the good, the bad, and the ugly

    Some of us live in climates where snowfall is considered a headline news event. Others experience only a few tastes of winter weather each year, and yet for some of us winter is an all-pervasive fact of life that permeates so many facets of our existence for several months each year.

    During an early springtime visit, a middle-aged visitor who’d lived his entire life Down South once remarked to me that it seemed like folks in Michigan had an awful lot of reflectors and stakes around their driveways. It occurred to me to then he didn’t realize/understand that snow covers everything including driveways and that it can be hard or impossible to identify driveway locations without markers.

    For the benefit of those who may not know, understand, or appreciate the many joys and agonies associated with winter weather in cold climes, I thought it might be useful (that or possibly cathartic for folks that live in cold climes and hate it) to spell out as many of the ways winter weather affects our lives as we can . No fact of life associated with winter is too obvious to note.

    I’ll start:
    - Yes, the roads get slippery when covered with snow and ice and the rear of the vehicle will often swerve or fishtail in these conditions, particularly when slowing down – in these situations always steer INTO the direction you are swerving or else you will spin out.

    - You lose lots of body heat through your head. If it’s below freezing temps and you want to get sick simply don’t wear a hat if you’re outside for a length of time.
    - Those same hills that are a nuisances to mow on/around become instant playgrounds for kids with their sleds/saucers/snowboards
    Last edited by Maister; 08 Dec 2011 at 11:03 AM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    It can be hazardous driving on open roads even on a clear day when it is not snowing, especially due to blowing and drifting snow. All you need is a little bit of wind, and before you know it, there is snow covering the roads, and as cars pack it down, these can quickly turn into slick spots. And a lot of times salt isn't enough to quell this problem!

    The preparations/implications of a major blizzard can be similar to that of a hurricane. Store shelves will go completely empty (and it may be a struggle to get them re-filled, as trucks get delayed by the weather). The news will talk about the blizzard non-stop. Schools will close. Power may go out....which sucks when it's frickin' cold outside. Your pipes could burst, leading to flooding, which will then freeze as well. Roofs can cave in due to the weight of the snow. Trees can collapse under the weight (especially with freezing rain). Covered items on the ground can be damaged by plows and cars. Even businesses will close for the most extreme events. However, this is typically only for the monster storms, where 12"+ is forecast. And yes, travel will be in many cases, simply impossible..for several days. And when it does become possible, it's a whole 'nother world out there. It can literally feel like you're driving through caves.

    Any snowfall under 6" is a routine event, like a rain shower or thunderstorm. So is extreme cold. You just go about your business like any other day.

    I think it's safe to say that 12" of snow is preferred over a half-inch of freezing rain.

    Thundersnow is real!

    The quietness after a fresh snowfall blanketing the earth is truly magical.

    Playing in the snow with your dog or kids is the funnest thing in the world.

    A good snowfall truly brings out the best in people. Neighbors helping neighbors dig out and all that. If a neighbor helps you out, you try to return the favor by helping them out next time, or baking them cookies.

    If you live in an area where parking is limited, it will be even worse when you have snowpiles occupying valuable spaces for months at a time.

    We keep snow scrapers/snow brushes in our car year round, because you just never know!

    The brown and yellow stains left in the snow by animals all winter-long is the most disgusting thing in the world. But we learn to live with it, and just hope we get another snowfall soon to cover it up!
    "Life's a journey, not a destination"
    -Steven Tyler

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    Wind Chill Factor
    Scraping ice off the windshield
    Broken white knuckles
    Walking on ice glazed sidewalks
    wearing a fleece vest with a thinsulate lined coat and a neck gator with a thinsulate lined knit hat
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  4. #4
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by illinoisplanner View post
    The quietness after a fresh snowfall blanketing the earth is truly magical.
    Snow has remarkable acoustic-inhibiting effects, especially while it's snowing (quite apart from blowing). My neighbor across the street frequently talks loudly to me from his driveway during the summer months. One evening last year we were both shovelling our driveways and I could see him motioning to get my attention. Between wearing a hat and the falling snow I couldn't hear him shouting at all.

    After an afternoon of cross country skiing, nothing beats a seat by the fireplace and either a hot cup of cocoa or icy/hot shot of Akvavit

  5. #5
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    As a lifelong Michigander, I find that there is nothing good about winter. I even hate playing in the snow with my kids.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  6. #6
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Bad:
    You spend more energy to melt the snow in your mouth than the energy it will provide
    If your car starts to slide and you don't have ABS, pump the breaks quickly
    Keep candy bars, blanket, and extra clothing in your trunk if you plan to drive through a common snow belt area
    Wash your car once a week as the salt will destroy your car if left unattended... but make sure to dry it fully before parking it for the night, otherwise you will not get into your car.
    Keep a lighter handy with your keys. If you car door lock is frozen, use the lighter to heat the key up. Insert and sing "Mary had a little lamb" (full version) and it should warm up enough to turn.
    Leave your shoes at the doorway otherwise the salt will get into your carpet and that is a bugger to get out.
    It is not funny to tease someone who has plastic over the inside of their windows. I might just punch you.


    Good:
    When packed around the foundation of your home, the snow provides an added layer of insulation
    It is much more fun to ski down a hill than hike it
    No bugs
    Two words... POND HOCKEY
    Two other words.... SNOW DAY

    Ugly:
    Heating bills
    Frozen pipes
    Morons at Consumers Energy deciding to shut off power for 8 to 10 hours to your neighborhood to do an 'up grade' on December 10th... in Michigan. (Bringing mini-skis to in-laws house without wife as she is on call and will be hanging out at the library all day. (Internet and heat)
    and:
    *** some inappropriate language. ***
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian HomerJ's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    As a lifelong Michigander, I find that there is nothing good about winter. I even hate playing in the snow with my kids.

    Ditto. That first snowfall can be very picturesque, but it in no way stacks up to the headache of having to get up extra early to shovel your car out. Not to mention the occasional days when freezing rain exponentially increases your chances of getting in an accident. Ever have your battery die in the morning when you need to get to work? Yea... winter is awful

    Ahhh the midwest, our summers are too muggy and our winters are freezing. I think I need to move to San Diego and soon!
    Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Winter is the reason that every SUV in Chautauqua County has either 4WD or AWD. 2WD SUVs wouldn't survive here.

    Winter is the reason most ladies from Chautauqua County can seriously discuss the merits of 5/8/10 HP snowblowers.

    Winter is the reason snowmobilers invade Chautauqua County by the thousands.

    Winter is the reason every third or fourth vehicle in any parking lot around Jamestown is a Subaru.

    Winter is the reason everyone in Chautauqua County knows and loves the phrase "lake effect snow".

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    When people ask why I used to go camping in northern Minnesota in January, I would reply that there are no mosquitos.
    The northern lights - a really good show is better than any fireworks.
    Animal tracks in teh snow - I once came across fresh bare tracks and followed them for a couple miles through the wilderness.
    Building a fire in the fireplace, making a cup of hot chocolate with cinnamon, and sitting with a book.
    Pulling out travel books and maps in January to make plans to get away as soon as possible.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Being from Buffalo it seems like we really don't get all that much snow here in Chicago. Although compared to other places in Buffalo doesn't get all that much.

  11. #11
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    NJ saw record snowfall last winter. A little snow is nice, a lot of snow sucks.

    If you don't know how to drive in snow/ice, aren't really comfortable driving in snow/ice, or don't have a vehicle that handles well in snow/ice....please do everyone a favor and stay the f*** home and off the roads.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  12. #12
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by HomerJ View post
    Ditto. That first snowfall can be very picturesque...
    Oh, and speaking of picturesque, the snowy landscape may appear worthy of a Currier & Ives or Norman Rockwell print during December but by March much of that snow (particularly near streets) is filthy and encrusted with all the dirt and debris picked up throughout the season with snow removal efforts.

    On the medical side, there is frostbite, snowblindness, and hypothermia to contend with. Most folks living in the post-frontier era don't experience these conditions under normal circumstances, but I recall an incident when I was a kid and played outside in the snow nearly all day when it was sunny out and had a mild-moderate case of snow blindness afterwards (dammit, shoulda worn my inuit goggles). Come to think of it maybe Mskis got frostbitten hands (or at any rate he used to whine like an old woman about turning the heat up for his hands whenever we had to drive anywhere together in a city car during winter)

  13. #13
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I like fires, hot chocolate, and cuddling (yea I said it)...

    I don't like people that drive slow, and my commute. Also, that they don't cancel work when it snows... it should be like school...
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Hink View post
    I like fires, hot chocolate, and cuddling (yea I said it)...

    I don't like people that drive slow, and my commute. Also, that they don't cancel work when it snows... it should be like school...
    The schools around here usually only close for snow when the winds start blowing it around so badly that the roads drift over. They're more apt to close for cold temps/low wind chills than for just snow with no wind.

  15. #15
    Gunfighter Mastiff's avatar
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    Western Oregon. It rains.
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  16. #16
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    We don't get too much in the way of inclimate weather in my city. It gets cold (its been below freezing or not far above for the last week) but not a lot of snow. It snows around us and we can get to to some when we want, though - great sledding with the kids in the mountains just 20 minutes from the house. It will snow here a few times each year, but aside from the ocassional freak storm, it usually only sticks around for a few days. The sun is just too intense.

    Fires are great - half our house is heated with a fireplace and we never tire of hanging out in front of it. I also love that here in winter it is not unusual to have days in the 40s or even 50s, meaning you can get out and do some fun stuff and soak up some sun without too much discomfort. I'm planning to go biking this Saturday when it will be in the mid 40s. I went last weekend, too, and it was great. We can also go camping, which we sometimes do in the warmer winter days. Its also usually not to difficult to get up to our land in the mountains and some great snowshoing opportunities (and wood stove warnth!) - but as someone mentioned, I always carry a kit of blankets and such just in case.

    What I dislike most are the short days. Its just depressing to be leaving work when its already dark.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  17. #17
    Cyburbian
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    I always enjoy watching drivers in the winter time, especially those that think they're immune to ice in a 4WD or the people who drive way below the limit as soon as flakes start to fly. I've encountered people who refuse to drive anywhere when it starts snowing... Snow doesn't even have to be sticking but these people are absolutely terrified of driving in it. I really have to wonder the logic behind why these people even bother to live in a place where snow is frequent.

    Anyway I enjoy the actual snowfalls but hate cleaning up after it or commuting in it. Also I'm not fond of sub-zero temperatures since my windshield wipers completely freeze. I don't spend that long outside so the cold doesn't bother me that much otherwise.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
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    Aside from the large storm events from Alaska that dump rain with cold temps or a "pineapple express" storm from Hawaii that is warm and dumps a lot of rain, that's about the extent of winter. Cool nights in upper 30's/low 40's high's in the low to mid 60's. Can't beat that (expect for an el nino or la nina type winter, than just expect buckets of rain)
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  19. #19
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    Lots of talk about fishtailing and needing SUVs with 4wd. Me? I'd rather stick with a larger FWD sedan like a Taurus or a Sable. They seem to be able to get through most snow. If it don't well you probably need to wait a day or two before using the car. If it means missing work, there are wose things (like sliding off the road and into a river/tree/other car).

    It never ceases to amaze me how SUV drivers think that since they have 4wd they can drive 70 mph in deep snow. What they seem to foget is that bridges are often ice patches.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  20. #20
    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    Ice Toes - Used to attack your snuggle buddy.
    Fires - Not only cozy and romantic, but necessary to keep the house warm.


    Winter always reminds me of our planet's place in the solar system. It seems like all the other seasons it is too easy to forget that we are on this crazy rock whirling through space, but winter reminds me.
    Occupy Your Brain!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    It never ceases to amaze me how SUV drivers think that since they have 4wd they can drive 70 mph in deep snow. What they seem to foget is that bridges are often ice patches.
    It took years of practice while growing up in the UP and driving down M-28 along Lake Superior, but it is possible. I can tell you though, I am much more comfortable in my Suburban than I am with my Impala. However, last winter I was coming home from a meeting (140 miles away) and the even the Suburban was not doing well in the snow/ ice, sleet. I pulled over half way home, checked the radar, and figure it would be done in an hour. So I did the only sane thing... got a burger and a beer and watched some hockey. I came back out an hour later and brushed 8 inches off the beast.


    Quote Originally posted by TerraSapient View post
    Ice Toes - Used to attack your snuggle buddy.
    Fires - Not only cozy and romantic, but necessary to keep the house warm.


    Winter always reminds me of our planet's place in the solar system. It seems like all the other seasons it is too easy to forget that we are on this crazy rock whirling through space, but winter reminds me.
    I never thought of it before... but think about how we are in the right place at the right time. Given the scale of space, even if we were a little off one way or another, we would not be so lucky to have four seasons for half the planet.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    As my mechanic-husband often preaches, you must have good tires on your vehicle. You're better off spending money on a set of high-quality snow tires than buying a big-a$$ SUV to get around in the snow and ice. I once slid off the road in my 4WD Subaru because the tires were in bad shape.

    The older I get, the less I like the cold... but I must admit that snowshoeing, or skiing if you prefer, is a good way to enjoy winter's beauty.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian dw914er's avatar
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    What is this "snow" you speak of?




  24. #24
    Cyburbian beach_bum's avatar
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    Winter: from the perspective a Florida girl now living in an area with 'winter'

    Good: Beautiful less than 6" snow falls that melt during the day, no hot weather

    Bad: Defrosting the car, no leaves on the trees...people freaking out over winter weather and no groceries left at the store when a storm is coming

    The ugly: Ice is the absolute worst!
    "Never invest in any idea you can't illustrate with a crayon." ~Peter Lynch

  25. #25
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by CPSURaf View post
    Cool nights in upper 30's/low 40's high's in the low to mid 60's. Can't beat that (expect for an el nino or la nina type winter, than just expect buckets of rain)
    Quote Originally posted by dw914er View post
    What is this "snow" you speak of?
    Californians! We hate you BECAUSE we LOVE you! Can I crash on your couch from say January to April Fool's Day? It sucks to be a Utahan who doesn't ski and does not enjoy snow. Winter for the snow lovers here is like the best 10 months of the year.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

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