Sunday, January 26, 2014

My coldest winter

Chicago, IL.- I love winter, and I love snow. Being able to experience the seasons of year to the fullest is one of the reasons I have lived in Chicago for 20 years. When summer comes, the people of this city really come out to enjoy the outdoors, since the warm weather may only last a couple of months a year. The fall is my favorite season, a festival of colors: red, yellow and some green in their most intense colors that make this city more beautiful than it already is. But this winter has been the worst I have experienced, giving new meaning to the term "hibernation" for folks in this area.

Just a couple of weeks ago we reached -16° Fahrenheit (-27° Celsius), and -40° Fahrenheit with the wind chill, the coldest temperature Chicago has seen in twenty years. The public schools cancelled classes that day, and many businesses also stayed closed. The last time it felt like this, in January of 1994, the thermometer recorded -17° Fahrenheit. This weather was closed by a polar vortex, a mass of arctic air that traveled too far south from the North Pole.

The day after the deep freeze the water main broke, flooding the basement of my building, where the central heating unit is, leaving us without heat or hot water for two days. It was a nightmare. There was ice on my windows inside of my house, and I was forced to leave my stove on to stay warm, something that I did not like at all.

Well, at least we were not as bad here in Chicago as they were in Minnesota, where temperatures dropped to -22° Fahrenheit. And thank goodness I was not traveling either, because we were hit by non-stop snow as well, and flights were halted.

I can usually get out on some days in January and February, the coldest months of the year, but this time it has been very cold since November. I knew something was different about this winter since then. I've been posting updates about "hibernation" on Facebook, and I don't even think of going to the public library for a book or doing anything outside that's not related to work or grocery shopping.

Unfortunately, we are going into another deep freeze tomorrow. Temperatures are again supposed to plunge into the negative teens. The public schools just cancelled classes. Metra officials are warning of delays, and I can't help feeling stuck at home.

Let's hope that this time around the water main in front of my house will not break, so that I can have heat to survive. And I also hope that this weather goes back to normal soon. I don't want Chicago to break any more temperature records for now. I want to be able to get out of my house without risking hypothermia, at least on some days. But it's all up to Mother Nature, and I'm okay with that!

Link to Spanish version/Enlace a historia en español.

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