BROCK: 33 below zero is really cold, but at least there are no mosquitos
Looking out the window last weekend when the thermometer plummeted to 30-plus below zero reminded me of 1984 and my first winter spent in Montana.
I was raised in southern Arizona where an inch of snow or temperatures that neared freezing were considered a climatic disaster and cause for school closings. Six months later and a thousand miles north, I was looking out that February day at a thermometer that read 39 below zero. What had happened to the sun that two days earlier had heated Montana's Gallatin Valley to a reasonable 35 degrees and even the day before had dipped only slightly below freezing? I had made it through December and January and assumed the temperatures would be trending up.
Being a naïve Arizonan, I couldn't believe the sun could shine and somehow not warm the air. I imagined that the coldest days would be cloudy and prevent the sun from doing its job, and for a moment wondered, what I had gotten myself into. Surprisingly to me there was no mention from anyone declaring a statewide disaster. I marveled as folks, for the most part, just went about their business as usual with no schools or government offices closings.
The next day it warmed up to 10 below and it was then I realized that, after 33 below, 10 below didn't feel so bad. The next day the winds locals called Chinooks turned warm and by the end of the week the temperature was nearing 60 degrees. I recounted that in less than a week the temperature fluctuated nearly 100 degrees, and told myself that this was the craziest weather anywhere.
Since I have lived in the Dakotas and Montana for nearly 40 years I know that the only weather constant is unpredictability. I have worked in the newspaper delivery business for the majority of that time and withstood Mother Nature's fury on countless occasions. I have experienced whiteouts, driven on roads so icy you couldn't walk on them, dodged tornados and hail storms. I have also come to appreciate the term wind chill and how two inches of snow along with strong winds can make any form of transportation nearly impossible.
Sunday was as cold as I have ever experienced and Thursday morning the thermometer read a balmy eight degrees with a forecast of 40 above zero for Saturday. This week's weather reminded me of some important things learned nearly 40 years ago: 33 below zero is really cold, but at least there are no mosquitos; those who live on the Northern Plain are tougher than most; 10 degrees can feel warm; and if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes. It will likely change.