Is it too soon to be over winter? I really only need one day of driving on ice and walking out in sub-zero temperatures to feel that I have put in my time with winter. But wait, winter hasn’t even officially started yet. It starts on December 21st.
Oh bother. You know it is going to be a long season when you are over it before it even begins. Not that it was ever on the top of my list for seasons. In that race it places a distant fourth. I tolerate winter in North Dakota because I love the state, but I do not look forward to it. Mostly I endure it with peppered complaints here and there.
I worry quite a bit in winter about folks’ well-being. North Dakota cold can kill. I have already started cautioning my family, friends, and students about taking extra precautions to stay safe. I am especially concerned about low temperatures coupled with wind – the windchill can greatly enhance the potential for frostbite on exposed skin. I think most folks forget what bitter cold feels like from year to year just like women forget the pain of childbirth shortly after its over and they see their baby. There are some things we block out as we move on.
I forget how bone chilling it can be, but it only takes one cold blast of air to send me scrambling for layers of warmth. I have a healthy fear of North Dakota winters. I appreciate how deadly they can be to folks who are unprepared.
I was shocked this past week to see a number of students at Cheyenne’s school and at NDSU in sweatshirt hoodies or regular shirts – they were out and about without a proper coat, hat, gloves, or scarf. I even saw some kids in shorts! I get a chill just thinking about it. When I am driving and I see such things I literally want to stop and tell the people to get in my car. I feel like I should do something to ensure they do not get frostbite. Alas, I am aware that folks might think I am some kind of a nut for such behavior…Cheyenne says she is sure that 99.9% of people would think I was a nut if I did this. I am not sure whether that will dissuade me from stopping and giving folks rides.
In the absence of such behavior, let me at least share some of the harsh realities of windchill with you. The below windchill chart from the National Weather Service provides information about how long it takes for frostbite to affect exposed skin. Please share this chart with your family and friends. Winter weather in North Dakota is very unforgiving – even before it is winter. Dress appropriately and stay safe and if I stop to give you a ride because you look like you are going to get frostbite – rest assured, I am not a nut.
Day one thousand two hundred and fifty-two of the new forty – obla di obla da