Weather Forecast


Column: Preparing for the snowy season

By the time most of you read this we'll know whether there was any truth in suggestions we might get the season's first significant snowfall this week.

Depending on when you listened to the weather, you might have expected either a gentle dusting - just enough to turn the world outside into a beautiful crystalline fairyland - a few quick-melting inches or the kind of winter storm that leaves small mammals buried alive and causes weaker men to question the very nature of their existence.

To be fair, it's possible not everybody saw that last forecast. It was on the All Panic Weather Channel, which I'm pretty sure is premium cable.

The first snowfall of the year is a big deal in Minnesota, and depending on what happens between the time this column is written and the time it reaches readers - or at least the bottom of readers' bird cages - there will likely be no fewer than 643,000 conversations about the weather.

"What do you think of this snow?" one person might ask a casual acquaintance in passing.

"Is it cold enough for you?" another might inquire.

"That was a good, old-fashioned mammal-burier," a third might opine, assuming the worst of the weather forecasts turns out to be accurate.

The first snowfall of the year will mean different things to different people. To some it will mark the official end of the warmer-weather seasons in Minnesota, a return to cold and darkness and to people thinking that ice fishing is a sensible way to spend an afternoon. To others it will be an affirmation that the natural order continues more or less as it should, and we can ease up on worries about the arrival of the end times, no matter what we hear from that goofy guy who keeps predicting the Rapture.

So, you know, there's a little good and a little bad.

I have mixed feelings myself. Heavy snow means the end of bike season, but it also means the start of cross country skiing. It means a chance to build snowmen and throw snowballs, but it also means I'm going to have start paying a heating bill again.

The fact I was told recently that my furnace could stop working at any time adds a little drama to the season, too. It's like roulette, only instead of losing all my money because of a bouncing plastic ball I might lose my comfortable living space because my aged furnace chooses to pick the coldest day of the year to give out for good.

Whatever happens with the weather this week, we know snow is coming sooner rather than later. Those of us who don't leave town for the winter will have to make our peace with that fact.

In the end, I think I'm kind of hoping for a little snow. If nothing else, it would be the perfect excuse not to rake all the leaves in my back yard. There are tons of them.