Our Views: Naturally, we’ll expect early spring after brutal winter

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Dear Mother Nature:

Enough already. Call this our Winter of Discontent. We’re running out of propane, running out of salt, running out of patience. Bring spring already.

We’ve endured fender benders and falls. We’ve canceled flights, canceled classes and canceled outdoor outings.

No wonder the economy is in a funk. Who wants to venture out to spend money? February is the shortest month, but it already feels like the longest. We’ll stay holed up until you send reasonable weather, thank you very much.

Heck, today dawned with a low of minus 7 in Janesville, where the high a year ago was 42. Forecasters were predicting lows of minus 18, perhaps 20 below, for Tuesday morning. What, we ask, did we do to deserve your brutality?

We keep tracking salt and sand into our homes. Our cars and garages have turned white with layers of sodium. If there were a way to recycle all this salt, our road crews wouldn’t be running short.

We’re stuck in this perpetual rut of frigid cold, then snow, frigid cold, more snow. We realize you haven’t socked us with big snows and that your freezing rains earlier this winter didn’t turn into ice storms like those that knocked out power out East. We also know, however, there’s still plenty of winter for those woes.

What happened to a real January thaw? Our records show Janesville last hit 32 degrees on Jan. 24, and we last nudged above the freezing mark, at 34, on Jan. 16. Forecasters say it might reach 32 Thursday. But wouldn’t you know it, just as temps moderate, you’re sending more snow.

We don’t mean to sound ungrateful. But while a temperature around 30 will feel like spring after all this subzero air, need we remind you that, this time of year, that’s only around the normal high? And speaking of snow, we’ve had more than our share, and without a reasonable midseason thaw, we can’t recall a winter with piles this high this late.

With all these arctic blasts, it’s no wonder so many Wisconsinites become “snowbirds” and flee to Florida, or to California or Arizona, where people outstrip your water supply.

Speaking of water, municipalities including Janesville suggest we run water all night to keep pipes from freezing, and we must run our cars to warm them up or they resist budging. How does this preserve your precious natural resources?

Sure, we pride ourselves on being hardy souls, but this is ridiculous. Some homeowners have given up shoveling and must hope that white sidewalk blanket will magically melt.

Yes, we know spring is coming. The sun is getting higher in the sky, and daylight is arriving earlier each day. We also know that Sun Prairie’s chubby ground rodent, “Jimmy,” poked his head out Feb. 2, declared six more weeks of winter and resumed hibernation. But we also heard a forecaster today use the “f-word.” No, not that one—the good one, as in “40.” He said we might hit that sometime next week.

That would be great. The sooner, the better. So let’s make a deal. You send an early spring—which we feel we’ve earned—and we promise not to grouse and grumble when we’re simmering in stifling summer humidity.

OK, maybe promise is too strong. Instead, send us a few flocks migrating north, colorful crocuses and breezes of mild air that beg us to open windows, and we’ll at least do our best to remember this harsh winter before complaining next summer.

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