As a life-long Minnesotan, I look forward to winter. No, I don’t like bitter, below zero temperatures, and I am definitely not a fan of shoveling anything more than a couple inches of snow. However, I do enjoy other aspects of the season -- going cross country skiing, seeing snow on the branches of the evergreen trees, watching children and dogs romp in freshly fallen snow and sitting in a warm location, drinking a hot chocolate (or a mocha) and watching big, fat, lazy snowflakes fall to the ground.
When I talk to people from outside the Midwest about what a nice place this is to live in the winter, I'm usually met with a fair amount of skepticism. They have heard the stories in the news about bitter cold, below zero temperatures with even colder wind chills. They have seen pictures of thermometers located in International Falls, Minn., the Icebox of the Nation, at -35 below (and that’s not the wind chill). They have heard stories about blizzards that can bring a city to a standstill. They have seen the pictures online of cars almost completely buried by snowplows on the streets and cars and trucks stuck in the ditches. And, they have watched countless videos clips on TV of people walking (or more likely waddling like a penguin) from their parking spots to their places of employment that were so bundled up that only their eyes were visible.
Yes, this is what Minnesota can be like during the winter. But it’s not the norm. Below zero temps for the daily high typically last for a few days, if we have them. Blizzards and snowfalls of over a foot in the area are rare. In fact, there have been winters, where we didn’t get our first snowfall until February and our first 3 inch snowfall until March. Unfortunately, December 2009 seems to be one of those strange and unusual winters when it comes to snowstorms; one probably headed for the record book.