While watching the news last night, I could not believe the amount of snow, which has fallen in the past three days in the US Heartland. From Amarillo, TX to Chicago IL, traffic has been snarled and millions of people have been digging out from several feet of snow over a one thousand square mile area. I grew up in the Amarillo Texas area and let me tell you I have seen some really big snowfalls in my day. I remember going to bed at night with no snow on the ground and waking up the next morning and not being able to find my car in the front driveway. The people who report the news always seem to find one or two cars that totally lose control on slick ice covered roadways and last nights news was no exception.
You have to live through one of those situations where the ice on the road becomes so slick that no matter which way you turn your steering wheel, the car has a mind of its own and is going in a direction which causes an accident. I remember once traveling down highway 287 between Amarillo and Claude Texas in the middle of an ice storm and all of a sudden my car began to spin around over and over again until I finally ended up in a ditch. Let me say that I was one scared guy when that happened and no matter what I did with the cars steering wheel or brakes, the car had a mind of its own. This whole event only took about 10 seconds to happen, but in my mind it seemed to take hours before my car finally came to a stop.
Also, yesterday found Chicago’s major airports closed to traffic until mid afternoon and of course modern day airports do not live in a vacuum, so hundreds of thousands of travelers found themselves stuck in airports, around the country, when their connecting flights did not arrive because of this December snow storm. It has been decades ago, but I remember a lady by the name of Jane Burn who was the Mayor of Chicago in the 1970’s who lost her bid for reelection because her administration could not keep the streets of Chicago clear after a terrible winter of above average snowfall. There are still political pundits who talk about that election today and remember how the folks who call the “windy city” home have no patience with politicians who can’t get the snow off the roads, quickly.
I only visited Chicago once in my life and that happened many years ago. The company I worked for at the time was having a business meeting in Chicago, so a coworker and myself flew into Chicago and stayed at the Hilton Hotel which was right outside the front entrance of the airport. I remember it was very cold and windy in Chicago during that trip, but luckily for us no snow fell when we were in town. After a couple of days of not leaving our airport hotel my coworker and I decided to rent a car and head downtown to check out some of the sites. It was late afternoon when we left the hotel and about sundown we got lost and ended up in South Chicago. As you may know, South Chicago is not the best place to be, after dark, in a rental car. We finally found our way back onto the freeway and headed back to our hotel and remained there for the rest of the business meeting.
Another windy city, which has more snowfall than most folks realize, is Amarillo Texas. When I was growing up in this far northern part of Texas, I encountered some of the coldest weather of my lifetime. It’s not just the cold weather that is bad there, but the extremely high winds which tend to blow down from the Colorado Rocky Mountains and since there are few trees between Colorado and the Texas Panhandle, the wind comes into cities like Amarillo in full force in a way which can cut right through the heaviest coat. Some of the TV news coverage I watched yesterday about this latest winter storm pictured young children in Amarillo sliding down hills and having a great time playing in the snow.
St. Louis and other parts of Missouri were also hit hard by this winter snowstorm and late reports say that hundreds of thousands of people in the Heatland are still without power. A very smart weather lady was talking on cable TV last night and she was explaining why this latest blizzard hit the Heartland and she explained it in a way that even I could understand. Apparently, cold air collided with the “jet stream” which was located about half way through the State of Texas and when these two powerful force collided, the energy necessary to produce a snow storm of this size was created. The location of the “jet stream” is also the reason why the northeastern part of the United States will not be blanked with snow from this same weather front as it moves into that area later today.
Most likely, people will be spending much of their time this weekend digging out from underneath all this snow and trying to find their cars and driveways before returning to work next week. I know this for sure, if I still lived in Amarillo Texas or in the Chicago area, the first piece of equipment I would purchase would be one of those fancy snow blower machines that are great for clearing driveways and sidewalks. It is hard work digging out a car and driveway the old fashion way, with a shovel and a strong back. I hope the weather clears this weekend and Mother Nature has an opportunity to help start the melting process which could take weeks, if not month to finish. I love a White Christmas, but this is not the type of White Christmas most folks would wish for in the early part of December. Now if I just had some cheap heavy coats for sale, I know where I could make some big bucks selling them right out of the trunk of my car!