Da snow!

February 2, 2011 • 6:58 am

Well, the big blizzard that’s swept the northern and eastern US hit Chicago with a vengeance.  Both airports are closed tighter than Scrooge’s wallet, the snowfall (still going on) is predicted to drop up to twenty inches, Lake Shore Drive is closed, and, for the first time since I’ve been at the U of C (that’s 25 years!), they’ve closed the University and canceled classes.  Only “essential personnel” are asked to be here, but of course I struggled in.  Neither snow, nor sleet, nor gloom of night can keep Dr. Coyne from the swift arrival at his appointed job.

Here are some photographs (click to enlarge):

This is the view out my lab window at about 3 p.m. yesterday; the snow was just starting to fall.   Across the street is the Regenstein library: the main undergraduate library here.  My car is the second in line (I had driven in the day before, hoping to drive to the south side for ribs one day this week).

Here is the same scene an hour later:

And now (about 7:30 a.m. Chicago time):

I knew something was amiss when I walked out of my building this morning. This is the entranceway, which is INDOORS, connected to the outside only by the open grate at the upper right.  All that snow had blown in overnight. The winds were so strong—and still are— that they drove the snow into my face, making it feel as if it were being pricked with needles. It hurt!

I tried to walk to work (normally an 11-minute journey) in the streets, which had been plowed, but when I got near work I had to fight my way through snowdrifts that were several feet tall.  The “normal” snow was up to my knees:

And the cars were getting buried, helped along by the wall of snow thrown up by plows:

After struggling through the drifts, I finally made it to work, exhausted.  Here I am at the building door.  My jeans were covered with snow up to mid-thigh, so I now have a space heater trained on my legs to dry the pants.

This is the inside of the building door.  That snow has been blown in under the crack, which is tiny:

Outside our building is a lovely little landscaped pool known as Botany Pond. I published a picture of it on October 31; here it is this morning:

And here is my car.  Looks like I’m not going to be getting those ribs any time soon!

UPDATE:  Readers have sent in two more photos.  Pinch-blogger Greg Mayer sends this photo of a snowdrift against his door in Racine, Wisconsin:

and reader daveau sends this cool photo of “snow lightning,” taken yesterday on the north side of Chicago by a friend’s sister’s friend:

62 thoughts on “Da snow!

  1. Actually sunny in Pittsburgh and almost balmy. Currently ~6C (but -10 tonite, and winds upwards of 80kph this evening.

  2. wow … makes my coffee taste a little warmer. My sister lives in Chicago and I haven’t heard from her yet, nice to know she getting trounced by mother nature. It’s chilly here in Seattle but clear skies.

  3. You’re keeping office hours today? Geez, even the bank I work at is closed. And we had to get the permission of a state regulatory agency to do it.

    But I guess your espresso machine is at the office. What some people won’t do for their fix.

  4. Whiner. I had to do similar, but at 36 weeks pregnant (okay okay, snow drifts were only up to my shins… still very hard to tackle when one’s balance and torso muscles are entirely compromised).

    Got to work nearly an hour late…

    1. Too bad you had to go in. I logged on from home and found my entire department had sent work-from-home emails. Well, who am I to buck a trend? One nice thing about working in telecom is they tend to provide good off-site connectivity services.

      (Note: Mr.PS and I are both in Ottawa, which is getting side-swiped by the northern edge of this system today.)

      1. There’s only two other people here! But smarty me didn’t grow up in a country with such a thing as a “snow day.” I have clear memories of trudging to school trying to stay afloat in snow that, were I to sink in, would be above my head 😉

  5. What you don’t understand is that people from Chicago have no memory. (Except for the blizzard of ’67). Every time it snows, it’s like the first time. What’s this white stuff? How do I drive again? Oh look, a peanut!

    1. I lived in Chicago (or rather the burbs) for a few years. It takes at least a foot of snow to slow things down very much.

      Here in England, a few inches of snow are a disaster — everything stops until the thaw.

      Anyway, it looks the much of the US is under a snowapocalypse now.

  6. Do you need any more reason to migrate to Australia? (When you do, choose Melbourne or Sydney — the north, especially the far north, tends to be rained on and flooded a lot, and every now and then [like right now] a cyclone the size of the U.S. will inconvenience locals and visitors alike.)

    1. I was just thinking that this ain’t crap compared to that cyclone. It doesn’t even make the news here. 20 inches of snow, and that’s all they have been talking about for days. It’s not like there’s a war or something. What?!?

  7. Wow! We dodged the bullet down here in So. Ill. Carbondale has only a light dusting of snow an no ice. It was amazing to watch the ice/snow line on radar all day yesterday–we were less than 50 miles away from being packed in ice.

  8. I am sure for climate science deniers, all this will be music to their ears. It is a rather simple matter: warmer climates globally mean more moisture, and in areas where temperatures are low, more precipitation. But to them all it means is that climate change us bunk, which is mighty convenient.

    1. Does that mean then that during the ‘Little Ice Age’ when winters were savage and summers cool that global temperatures were high ?

      1. That is relevant because…? Can’t two different phenomena have the same effect for a specific duration of time? And besides back then the summers were cool. With the record temperatures last summer here in DC, the comparison looks odd, to say the least.

  9. We’re getting walloped by the same storm, here in the desert southwest. Winds are blowing at up to 35mph, so we’ve got wind chill between -10 and -25. Not so much snow, but a huge amount of our pipes have burst, turning roads into skating rinks. Expecting worse until this afternoon. Weirdest part of the weather is that it’s very quiet outside, interrupted by the sounds of big chunks of ice falling onto the roof.

  10. I knew something was amiss when I walked out of my building this morning. This is the entranceway, which is INDOORS, connected to the outside only by the open grate at the upper right.

    At first it sounded as if you had spent the night at work–especially with the morning pic from your lab shown before the pics from your trek to work. I thought “What dedication, to spend the night at work!”

    I figured it out.

    Well, here in NC we have sun and temps heading up to the 70s. A little taste of spring for Groundhog Day.

  11. Where’s your HAT, Jerry? [/mom]

    30-below temps here (-10 F base) in fundytown Colorado, but we dodged the deep snow. The low tomorrow is expected to be 40 F. I prayed hard to almighty Zebulon, the purple mountain majesty, and in true form, he protected us.

        1. Oh, I don’t know, all I can see is the ice on the front of his hair!

          OK Jerry, some of us are spending far too much time thinking about this.
          Did you wear a hat or no?
          I’ve got to get some work done.

          1. No hat. I never wear hats because my head doesn’t get cold. The only place I do is when I do field work in the desert (and then I wear a Stetson to keep the sun off) or in the Himalayas, where I wear a balaklava because it’s so COLD.

            1. Despite growing up in Alaska, I rarely wore hats. I needed ear protection, but let the heat blast off the top of my head.

              I am such a hypocrite.

              1. I shouldn’t think that sasqwatch would require too much protective winter clothing…

                Hats are important, people! You should *always* be keeping your head and torso protected. These are our valuable bits!

  12. Jerry: There were similarly snowy storms in 1970 when I was a postdoc at Chicago. Lots of memories, such as arriving from Costa Rica with nothing but sandals.

        1. Seriously, I checked the story on her website, and the socks were retrieved later by crew members going out in one of their tiny boats (a Zodiak, maybe?). Apparently absolutely nothing breaks down there, so tour groups have to get really… uh… religious about making sure absolutely nothing is left behind.

          (apparently ERV was getting ribbed about having to jump back in to retrieve them)

  13. Holy shit, the Windy City is living up to its name today!

    From my small son: “Where do sharks come from?”

    A: “Sharkago!”

    I couldn’t resist.

  14. Here in Milwaukee, we didn’t have a whole lot of snow, but there are some pretty deep drifts, and we had gusts that exceeded 100 kph (Yeah, I know, the US isn’t metric, but triple-digit winds seem so much more dire). Cars are plowed in, and we had lightning all night. This is the first really heavy snow of the season here. Even the last storm that socked Chicago slipped right past us.

    Bus service has been canceled for the day, almost everything is closed and a lot of cars have been plowed in.

    When I lived in Connecticut, this kind of shutdown happened when they god a piddling five inches. I had my first driving lesson the morning after an eight-inch snowfall.

    1. I don’t think it is an issue of poorly or well made. When my wife were in Napa Valley we stayed in a motel in Santa Rosa and I noticed that the door was not a snug fit. Since they do not get the drastic temperature changes that we get (Saskatoon Sk) they do not need weatherstripping or snug fitting doors.

        1. I think that was the entryway to his building at work. Somebody call maintenance to adjust the sweep. *I’m sorry, that part of the budget was cut for 2011…*

  15. Do you have any details on the “snow lightning” ? The discharge in the picture looks as impossible as Paul Bunyan’s Round River.

  16. Stupid question, but why live in such a place? I mean, I live in Melbourne, which gets the odd frost in deep winter, but snow is almost unheard of, except a once every 20 year spotting of sleet on the mountains nearby.
    I don’t get it. Snow is for skiing and penguins. All humans should be aiming to live near coconuts or grow coconuts near where they live. I’m doing the later. It’s a biological imperative.

    1. In my case: I am far less distinguished than Dr. Coyne and at my age, I am grateful for employment. Were I to land a similar position in a warm weather location, I would leave for the reasons you stated. 🙂

  17. I wish there were a way we could siphon our heatwave here in Sydney across to the US, and you could send us a few tankers full of cold. We could happily cancel each other’s extremes out.

  18. We got pounded in Peoria, IL; two days of no classes. Of course, our Minnesota friends are laughing at us; we aren’t equipped to deal with this much snow in such a short time.

    Problem: finding a place to walk; the sidewalks are buried though I managed to dig out a path in ours.

  19. I was amazed at how accurately they predicted this storm. We had several days notice and everyone was stocking up at the grocery stores…schools and businesses were announcing closures for the next day before the snow even began to fall…

    And dang if it didn’t come in like they said it would. First storm I remember coming in from the NE like that, with the wind blowing hard and continually; when I opened the back door there was a constant dull roaring sound. Snow came in around shut doors in the barn and chicken house where it had never come in before…The flakes themselves were small but adding up inexorably. The police were exhorting everyone to keep off the roads, because if something happened, the police couldn’t reach them. Some of the force were on snowmobiles…

    Many drifts today but clear, still, and sunny this afternoon. Good shoveling weather. (SW Michigan)

Leave a Reply