So, the weather gurus at the Weather Channel and on our local channels (I’m a total weather geek and I adore WGN’s Tom Skilling) have been salivating since Sunday in anticipation of today’s forecast blizzard. I’ve lived through many Chicago winters. I was 12 when we had the snow of snows here: 23.5 inches in January 1967. Nearly two feet of snow (much of it “lake effect”—and all of it a complete surprise to everyone) came after two days of 70-degree weather. Go figure.
Since then, we’ve flirted with the 20-inch mark a few times; in 1979 we had several one-foot snows fall over the period of two weeks (also in January). That year, I slapped on my cross-country skis to go the grocery store (and everywhere else). In the years since, we’ve had smaller, but still might, storms in the winter: eight, ten—even a foot and a half. But not two feet.
In Chicago, everything is politics; weather has toppled mayors and nearly every mayor is judged by how he (or she) handles the inevitable snow crisis. Interestingly, this year, Mayor Richard Daley isn’t running for re-election. Perhaps we should put the mayoral candidates into the hot seat and preemptively assess their skill. It would be an interesting test: what would Rahm Emanuel do? What about Carol Mosely Brown? It would be nice to know before they actually had to deal with a Chicago winter.
But mostly we’re just waiting for “the beast” of the storm as the weather anchors on the Weather Channel are calling it. Usually when a heavy snow or blizzard is forcast for here, we end up in a “dry pocket” created by a combination of winds and the great big weather confuser to the east—Lake Michigan. So, forgive me if I’ve been slightly skeptical of the hyperbole swirling about this storm (at least until half an hour ago). There have been too many mornings when my kids have woken up anticipating a snow day only to be disappointed by a paltry five or six inches—far from enough to close school.
But it looks like this storm is the real deal. The winds have picked up and gusts of 50 miles per hour are anticipated—coming right off the lake. That will make the snow worse—and worse than that, it’s predicted that we might get some 25-foot waves.
AM talk jocks and TV news people have started coming up with names for our storm to be: Snowgasm, SnOprah, The Great White Snowstorm (complete with Jaws soundtrack) among the more bizarre. And snow is falling as the storm has made it all the way to Chicago without petering out. My “snow-cipitation” is over. The wait for this history-making blizzard has ended. It’s here!