Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Duluth area deprived of decent blizzard...

By Jim Heffernan

OK, OK, enough’s enough. February already and we haven’t had a blizzard. Sure, there’s plenty of snow on the ground around Northeastern Minnesota, and we’ve had “storms” of two or three inches at a time, but no blizzard. We need a 2016 blizzard.

It’s particularly vexing when you hear of others having whiteout-producing blizzards with schools closed, highways closed, cities virtually shut down. At this writing, southern Minnesota is getting hit hard. And how about that one out East – New York, Washington buried.

And here Duluth has this reputation for severe winter weather (including extreme cold, which you can have), and other parts of the country are getting all of the blizzards.

I knew things would go south the minute Don Ness left the mayor’s office.

It seems to me that in the past we could count on two or three blizzards a winter around here. My memory might be fading, but I don’t recall any decent blizzards at all in recent years – the mall-closing, traffic-at-a-standstill, buses pulled off the road kind of blizzards that are so exciting.

The Duluth newspaper this week ran a story headlined “Number of blizzards has doubled in recent years.” Well, maybe south and east of here, but not here.

I used to work at that newspaper, and blizzards were fun for journalists writing the storm stories that advised no travel, informing that schools will be closed, recounting the drama of babies born in cars stuck in drifts,  plows leading ambulances to heart attack victims. Lots of drama. 

The people in charge of distributing the newspaper were not as fond of blizzards as we were in the newsroom. It’s very hard to get the paper on subscribers’ doorsteps in a blizzard. Whenever a blizzard struck, the word resounded through the newspaper building: “Snow in the alley.”

That meant early deadlines and that the circulation trucks would have difficulty picking up their bundles from the loading dock as the newspaper ran off the press, and proceed through the city and region. To assure that the alley would receive plowing priority, one employee was assigned to see to it that a bottle of scotch or whisky was placed in a certain spot in the alley where the plow jockeys could find it. I could name names.

So I’m looking forward to our first blizzard of this winter. The best come without warning, nearly impossible today with such widespread weather forecasting. I can remember going to a movie without any knowledge of an impending storm, and walking out at the end and finding howling gale-force winds driving drift-forming snow and traffic brought to a standstill.

Blizzards don’t get any better than that.


Patricia said...

Could you arrange a rerun of the movie -- what was it?
Cheers --- Pat

Jim Heffernan said...

It would make a fun movie, Pat! But I sure am waiting for the real thing... a good old fashioned, wear long underwear blizzard :-)