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2013 – 2014 The Winter of Record Breaking Bitter Cold and Snow Fall

Updated on March 16, 2014

People Come Together in Times of Crisis

Growing Up In The Midwest - Chilly

Growing up in Illinois located in the Midwest, cold winters are not at all uncommon. I remember as a child experiencing a lot of snow and even one ice storm that knocked out our power to the whole city of Springfield for over a week. But as I grew into an adult the winters seemed to get milder and milder. So much so, that we would actually wish for snow, especially around Christmas. In the last ten years, we were lucky if we got a good snow two or three times a year. My kids never got to make a snowman like I did as a young child. And, who can forget about sledding down a giant snowy hill or even making snow angels. We so desperately missed our snow and we were sad our children weren’t getting the experiences that we had as children.

But this year has been a little different. Not only have we attained a record breaking amount snowfall, we have also received record low temperatures. So far this year, Chicago has had 22 days of subzero temperatures. And it’s Chicago’s 5th snowiest winter since 1884-1885 when recording of snowfall started. Detroit has had it’s 3rd snowiest winter and an average temperature of 20.3. And this is just the Midwest.

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Winter Storms and Their Names

So, during one of our big snowstorms I had ordered a package from Amazon and I received an email saying that it might be late due to Winter Storm Leon. And, there I was sitting in front of my computer, totally confused. I read it again, I even called my husband in to take a look at it. Now, I should probably take this moment to tell you that we have two children and mostly our TV is either playing cartoons or some kind of kid's programming, so we rarely watch the news. So, there I was, Winter Snowstorm Leon? Maybe it’s just me, but have we ever had winter storms with names before? If so, how did I miss out on this for all of these years. My kids weren't that old. Just when did winter storms start getting names? I had to know.

I understood all about the hurricanes and the tropical storms, but this was the first of this for me and I had to find out! So, I did a little research and found that hurricanes and tropical storms started getting named by the National Weather Service more than a half century ago, but the National Weather Service weren’t responsible for naming the winter storms. What? Then who was naming them?

I dug a little deeper and I found out that the Weather Channel decided that they would go ahead and start naming them themselves. I guess it was okay, because they did it and are continuing to do. They are the Weather Channel after all. Developed with the help of a Latin class at Bozeman High School in Bozeman, Mont., the 26 names will be used in alphabetical order to identify strong winter storms that meet the naming criteria. The 2012-2013 list for winter storms was the first of its kind to be developed by The Weather Channel, with 27 storms receiving names a year ago. I must not have been paying attention last year. But, I'm calling dibs on the tornadoes, I want to name the twisters. I live in the Midwest after all, I think I can do it.

So, "The naming program last year was a huge success, with well over a billion impressions on Twitter and regular use by numerous schools, agencies and media outlets," said Bryan Norcross, senior hurricane specialist at The Weather Channel and compiler of the list. "It's simply easier to communicate about a complex storm if it has a name, which our naming program last year demonstrated. And good communications benefits everyone." A billion impressions on Twitter. Can you say higher ratings. Think about that for a second, the population of the United States is somewhere around 317 million people and they got a billion hits on Twitter. How many countries does the Weather Channel tune into.

Homeless Hit Hardest By Winter Storms

In this world today, it is very easy to get caught up in your daily life dealing with your own problems. During these storms, you tend to think about who's going to shovel the driveway or how are we going to get to work on time. I've had several days when the kid's stayed home because school was cancelled due to the subzero temperatures. There's a lot going on you have elderly people in your family to worry about, frozen pipes, furnace problems, dead car batteries, car accidents from the ice etc.

But, what many of us take for granted is the fact that we have a warm home at the end of the day. I have tried to instill in my children the fact that we are lucky that we have the things that we do and that we have our health. I tell them that there are a lot of people less fortunate than us. So, when things like these storms happen, I take the opportunity to one help someone in need and two, teach my children that there are people out there who need help. So, this year my 13 year old son and I went to the Good Will and bought sweat shirts and coats. Then we headed downtown and handed them out to anyone that we saw. People were very grateful. My son was shocked, he never realized that homeless people were really real, I think he had imagined them different. My wish is that everyone who reads this could do something like this with their child, it really puts a quick halt to them asking for a new video game when they realize how lucky they are.

Since these winter storms, hundreds to thousands of homeless people have died due to the elements. The subzero temperatures can lead to hypothermia very quickly. Many cities have tried to get more homeless people off of the streets by providing more shelters, paying for motels and hotels, opening up hospitals, and convention centers. Some cities have even gave out cell phone numbers for citizens to call if they see a homeless person so someone can come and pick them up and take them to a shelter. Of course, that won't save everybody, but it is nice to see that people are doing something to help out people in need.


Here comes Winter Storm Titan

Just when you think it is over here comes Winter Storm Titan. But, it's not just any storm for the Midwest, it's a coin toss of snow storm or ice storm. This is never good news. Ice storms are one of the most dangerous winter storms there are. Not only do you have the typical things like people falling and cars sliding out of control. You also have ice accumulation on trees, houses, and power lines. And, when they get too much ice on them, down they come.

Our last big ice storm was in the last week in March 1978. I was only 6 years old, but I remember the power lines being down in the street and not having any power. My mom put all of the things that were in her freezer outside in a cooler. We didn't have power for two weeks. Roads were closed because of fallen trees and power lines. It was a mess. But at the same time, quite beautiful. In Illinois 24 counties were considered disaster areas, there were over 1000 automobile accidents, and $20 million worth of trees were lost. People still talk about it today. Experts say that this winter has been the worst winter in 25 years. But, that ice storm, nothing will ever be worse than that for the people around here.


The Extreme Winter Blast of 2013-2014

Does this Winter and it's extreme temperatures and snowfalls make you doubt that our climate is rising?

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In Summary

Although the snow has been pretty, the subzero weather has left a lot to be desired. However, my kids did get to make a snowman, get to play on sleds and even made a few snow angels. I taught my oldest son what it is to do something for someone other than himself, which can be hard to teach the children today. And, I learned that there are actually Winter Storms with names now. I am left with a few questions that I didn't pursue like what happened to "Global Warming or Climate Changing". Are we headed into an ice age? Leaving me still with the question, “Is there anything going on with our planet, that someone is not telling us about”? Maybe I'll try to address those questions for another time. I’m sure that we will not get an answer in our lifetime. Hopefully, our children won’t either. I’m just left with one thought:

What do you think about this years winter?

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