Icicles, frost, sub-zeroes, chill, blizzard, freeze: like any other year, these words have adorned the winter glossary yet again. What carries an air of excitement with them is undoubtedly the mention of “snow”. More so for those who do not get to see it that often. Any time when I talk to people and say that it’s been very cold, the most common query is whether it has snowed.
Having grown up in a place with humid, sub-tropical climate conditions, it was a truly novel experience when it snowed on my first Christmas in Knoxville, Tennessee. The white landscape was breathtaking. Attempting to make a snowman, despite the pathetic finished product, was indeed very exciting.
The fascination with snow is so encompassing. Ever since the temperatures started dropping this season, my niece Naini had popped the question to our Amazon Echo Show an umpteen number of times. “Alexa, will it snow in Atlanta in the next 10 days?” would be her question. The reply in the negative would disappoint her. Finally, her joy knew no bounds when the weather forecast predicted snow on a Tuesday.
An Atlanta snow storm in January 2014 drew flak from citizens for the government and school authorities when precautions were not taken in the advent of upcoming bad weather that was predicted. Life in the city and the suburbs was paralyzed with people stranded in multiple places all over. To avoid the unforeseen repercussions of 5 years ago, extra care was taken this year. What was witnessed was a long string of announcements on Monday, January 28 for the following day. State government offices were closed, and so were most educational institutions. Many private companies allowed employees to work from home to stay safe from the aftermath of inclement weather.
The winter advisory issued for multiple North Georgia counties and all of metro Atlanta by the National Weather Service made people ready to wake up to a white morning the next day. Unfortunately, all the preparation ended up to be an exercise in futility with not a speck of snow descending upon those eagerly waiting for the fun and frolic. The moral of the story is: Nothing is impossible. The application of science and technology can miserably fail like anything else. The inaccurate weather forecast disappointed many who vented out their frustrations on Twitter and other social media with comments, images, and hilarious memes.
From the domain of scientific projection, let me move to the world of one particularly loveable rodent. Canada and the United States observed the popular tradition of Groundhog Day on February 2, as they do every year. Derived from Pennsylvania Dutch superstition, a belief prevails that if the groundhog coming out of its burrow sees its shadow due to clear weather and goes back to its den, winter is supposed to last for six more weeks. Not seeing its shadow signals the early arrival of spring!
The official groundhog Punxsutawney Phil lives in Pennsylvania, and the news this winter is that the legendary rodent has predicted an early spring! As crazy and absurd as it may sound, due importance has been given to this weather lore brought from German speaking areas to North America. Counting on the data provided by the Stormfax Almanac, it is seen that Phil has a pretty poor record as a clairvoyant, being correct with his prophecies only 39% of the time! Yet, people can’t abandon this century-old tradition. Well if a detailed, systematic procedure to study the conditions of the atmosphere can go haywire, why blame the poor groundhog and a superstition?
Winter with its blazing logs, festive spirit, holiday music, and fun-filled vacations has held a special charm like the blessings of other seasons. To add to the thrill, a snowfall now and then is most welcome. But things might not be always so merry for those cities in the south where snow does not regularly fall. Such places may not have the proper equipment for cleaning the snow, and in the event of it turning into black ice, life can be miserable.
Nature has its varied hues and shades just like we as human beings have our bags of mixed feelings and moods, our distinct likes and dislikes. “Hate” is a very strong word, so I would say it in a much gentler tone that I’m not that big a fan of the winter. I dislike the cold breeze that cuts through the skin, and I am definitely not comfortable wrapping myself up in layers that make me look rounder. The situation has not yet arisen, but I would not even like to picture myself shoveling the snow in my driveway. But while I’m excited about the rising temperatures of this past week and ready to bid goodbye to the cold and welcome spring, someone else in the house has other plans. My niece is not too eager to let winter go, nor has she yet abandoned her hopes. Naini is still optimistic and regularly checks the weather forecast, nurturing a dream that she will one day this season wake up to a beautiful winter wonderland!