Drips to slips

There is a saying around here “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes”. The weather in the Twin Cities can go from a violent storm to almost perfect weather in a few short hours. It can go the other way just as quickly. Despite the notion that Minnesota is a frozen wasteland nine months (or more) of the year, it does rain in December. This year’s rain came as the Twin Cities cooled down from a record high temperature resulting it going from drips to slips in a few short hours. The storm was fairly weak with snarled thoroughfares and slick sidewalks as the only lingering side effects. The old Irish blessing starting with “May the road rise up to meet you” takes on a literal meaning when one’s feet skid outward and upward.

Some of the December rains in years past produced ice-coated landscapes resembling a glassblower’s sparkling masterpiece. One particularly ill-timed storm nearly thirty years ago stuck just before Christmas Eve. Power lines coated with a thick glazing of ice buzzed, vibrated, and sometimes snapped. Utility poles snapped from the extra weight and some roofs collapsed. Jagged chunks of ice fell from tree limbs and sometimes the tree would split. Cars that were stuck in ditches or were damaged in collisions lined the roadway. What was normally a four-hour drive became a seventeen-hour drive with stops every five miles to break the ice off the windshield and the wiper blades. It was difficult seeing the beauty outside because the side windows had a thick coating of ice on them. Perhaps the reason this area is called a “winter wonderland” because people wonder if the weather will stay nice or turn nasty.

About fifteen years ago, I remember helping a coworker with car problems in mid-December, getting soaked while hooking up jumper cables in the pouring rain. Now I keep an umbrella and rain poncho in the car year around, although the snow shovel and the ice scraper get removed when the weather warms sufficiently. “Be prepared” is a way of life here, not just a motto.

Fortunately for the Twin Cities, the forecasts are biasing towards slightly above normal temperatures and dry conditions for Christmas. It may or may not be a white Christmas this year, but people appreciate safe travels and not needing to keep an eye on the weather or needing to leave early when enjoying time with family and friends. The drips to slips weather can wait until after the holidays.

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