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Traffic backed up on I-394 at Hwy. 101 in the eastbound lane after a recent heavy snowfall in the Twin Cities.

Richard Sennott, Star Tribune

The winter debate heats up

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER
  • Star Tribune
  • December 21, 2012 - 7:23 PM

The season's first monster snowstorm drew this reaction from many Minnesotans: "It's about time!"

Last year's mild winter left snowmobile and ski fans grumbling about all the fun they were missing. When the snow finally arrived earlier this month, they couldn't wait to get out to play.

But after suffering through hellacious commutes that were measured in hours, public opinion swung like a cold, dark pendulum: "Oh, for the good old days of ice-free streets and abnormally high temperatures," we lamented.

Now we herald the official arrival of another winter, one in which long-range predictions are all over the weather map. Even with all that high-tech forecasting equipment, Mother Nature is playing by her own rules. (Remember how that 4 to 6 inches of snow became a foot or more on Dec. 9?)

But we've become conflicted. For every person who wouldn't mind having another easy winter, there's someone hoping for Winter Wonderland. Of course, we can't do anything about the impending weather except argue. So let's argue the good and bad of a mild winter.

Pros

These kids won't dress themselves -- and that takes time. If parents could get back all the time they spend stuffing youngsters into snowsuits, boots and mittens, they'd have hours (days, even!) of extra free time every winter.

It's just easier to get around. An errand that takes 20 minutes during a mild winter can balloon to 45 minutes when the snow flies. We have to warm up the car, scrape ice off the windshield, drive slow in traffic, etc.

Parking is a breeze. We're not forced to leave the car halfway out in the traffic because the parking lane is piled high with snow. And at the mall, we're spared the obstacle course created when people park any odd way because snow and ice has obscured the parking lines.

Walking is more enjoyable. During the deep freeze of yesteryear, icy sidewalks and parking lots were like treacherous bad guys ready to lay down a slippery patch of ice, forcing us to do the duck waddle for all to see.

Energy bills we can afford. This is especially satisfying, seeing as how we're coming off a summer in which air-conditioning bills rivaled the debt of a small country.

Clean boot mats in the entryway. In fact, we don't need boot mats at all. Or boots.

Yellow snow. There isn't any.

Cons

Winter yards look better under snow. There's a pristine cleanliness to a lawn blanketed by new-fallen snow. Mild winters give us brown grass.

A lack of excuses. When we show up late for work, it's so much easier to just blame bad, snowy traffic. After your third or fourth flat tire, most bosses start to get suspicious.

Inactive kids. With no snow to slide on or ice to skate upon, it's even more tempting for kids to plop down in front of their mind-numbing video games.

Inactive adults. In a "real" winter, we're forced into exercising whether we like it or not. For instance, plugging the meter typically entails scaling a mountain of snow.

Our coping skills atrophy. Oh, how we love to giggle at news reports of freak blizzards that leave warmer states in a tizzy. But the tables could soon be turned if these unpredictable winters continue.

Bragging rights are forfeited. What Minnesotan doesn't swell with pride when we hear that we've once again claimed the distinction as "icebox of the nation" by reporting the day's lowest temperature?

Nice weather turns us into crybabies. The worse the weather gets, the tougher we get. We laugh in the face of the windchill -- at least until our faces freeze.

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