At the time of publication the Weather Channel is warning the following for my home area:
.. BLIZZARD WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM CST /4 PM EST/ TUESDAY TO 3 PM CST /4 PM EST/ WEDNESDAY...
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN CHICAGO HAS ISSUED A BLIZZARD WARNING... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM CST /4 PM EST/ TUESDAY TO 3 PM CST /4 PM EST/ WEDNESDAY. THE BLIZZARD WARNING REPLACES THE BLIZZARD WATCH.
* TIMING... SNOW WILL INCREASE IN INTENSITY AND BECOME HEAVY AT TIMES SOUTH OF INTERSTATE 80 TUESDAY AFTERNOON... GRADUALLY SPREADING NORTH INTO NORTHERN ILLINOIS BY TUESDAY EVENING. SNOW... WHICH WILL BE HEAVY AT TIMES... WILL CONTINUE TUESDAY NIGHT INTO WEDNESDAY MORNING. LAKE ENHANCED SNOW SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE NEAR LAKE MICHIGAN IN NORTHEAST ILLINOIS WEDNESDAY MORNING... SHIFTING INTO NORTHWEST INDIANA DURING THE AFTERNOON. NORTHEAST WINDS OF 25 TO 40 MPH WITH STRONGER GUSTS WILL RESULT IN BLIZZARD CONDITIONS DEVELOPING LATE TUESDAY AFTERNOON AND CONTINUING THROUGH THE OVERNIGHT HOURS.
* ACCUMULATIONS... SNOW ACCUMULATIONS IN EXCESS OF A FOOT ARE EXPECTED OVER MUCH OF THE AREA FROM TUESDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON. LOCALIZED TOTALS IN EXCESS OF 18 INCHES REMAIN POSSIBLE... ESPECIALLY NEAR THE LAKE.
* HAZARDS... WHITE-OUT CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED AT TIMES TUESDAY NIGHT AS VERY HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS RESULT IN BLIZZARD CONDITIONS. SNOWFALL RATES OF AT LEAST 2 TO 3 INCHES PER HOUR ARE POSSIBLE... ESPECIALLY WHERE THUNDER SNOW MAY BE PRESENT.
* IMPACTS... CONDITIONS WILL RAPIDLY DETERIORATE FROM SOUTH TO NORTH ACROSS THE REGION TUESDAY AFTERNOON... WITH TRAVEL LIKELY BECOMING VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE AT TIMES TUESDAY NIGHT AND INTO EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING. SNOW IS EXPECTED TO FALL SO HEAVILY AT TIMES TUESDAY NIGHT THAT PLOWS MAY BE UNABLE TO KEEP UP WITH THE SNOW... WITH MANY SIDE STREETS AND UNTREATED ROADS BECOMING IMPASSABLE.
A BLIZZARD WARNING MEANS SEVERE WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED OR OCCURRING. FALLING AND BLOWING SNOW WITH STRONG WINDS AND POOR VISIBILITIES ARE LIKELY. THIS WILL LEAD TO WHITEOUT CONDITIONS... MAKING TRAVEL EXTREMELY DANGEROUS. DO NOT TRAVEL. IF YOU MUST TRAVEL... HAVE A WINTER SURVIVAL KIT WITH YOU. IF YOU GET STRANDED... STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE.
... DANGEROUS MULTIFACETED AND POTENTIALLY LIFE THREATENING WINTER STORM TUESDAY NIGHT INTO WEDNESDAY...
First of all, snowfall rates of multiple inches per hour get me really excited. I love it. And the term "Thunder Snow?" Seriously? What is THUNDER SNOW and why have I never heard about this before? I mean, I've heard thunder during a snow storm and just thought I was crazy. But THUNDER SNOW is apparently a term (possibly made up by the Weather Channel), and is now something I will be on the lookout to hear. Maybe even in the summer.
Look, I'm a weather freak. I don't know all the Latin names for particular cloud formations or anything, but even on the clearest and most beautiful of days, I check the weather via the internet or a variety of apps on my iPhone about a million times a day.
I love extreme weather. I don't like being out in a car in the middle of it, but I do love sitting around watching it happen through my window.
When I was a kid, my father, who is an electrical engineer, loved watching intense thunderstorms. We can get some doozies here in Chicago. He'd unfold a lawn chair for himself, with a matching, smaller version for me, and we'd sit just inside the open garage and watch for lightning.
Once our family company's plant was struck by lightning, though, he started making me sit a little further inside, and had lightning rods installed on our roof.
Every place I've ever lived, one of my requirements was a safe place from which to watch storms. I love my little house that I've been in now for a year and a half, but its biggest selling point was the screen-in porch off the back, which I improved by adding sliding glass doors so I can sit out there in the winter to watch the snow (and because the 50-year-old aluminum louvers didn't open anymore).
My first blizzard was the Blizzard of '79. Partly as a result of the City of Chicago's woeful response to that crazy snowfall, Jane Byrne was elected mayor. While we do have a mayoral election coming up, there's no one to respond badly that might lose, as Daley is not running. But you can bet if the city comes to a standstill, our mayoral candidates will be stepping over themselves to present plans for making sure it never happens again.
I was nine years old during that '79 blizzard. No school, Dad out of town on a business trip (family lore says he was on his way driving to Ohio, got turned around, and ended up in Iowa--just stayed on the road and kept driving, unable to see any signs). I remember shoveling from the front door to the mailbox with my mother. In memory, the snow was above my head, though we got no more than 2 feet. I remember the drifts in the backyard, several feet high, against the bushes, and my brother and I tunneling back there--Mother Nature made our snow fort for us. We used the air conditioner compressor as an "oven" and made snow-meatloaf and snow-baked-potatoes.
On Valentine's Day 1990, we had an unusually fast-falling snow (but not a blizzard, apparently). I had to dig my car out of its spot, and it took me two hours to drive the three miles home.
In 1999, we were slammed with 18 inches of snow. My kids were pre-schoolers, I was a stay-at-home mom, so I wasn't as affected by the snowfall as others were. I didn't have to go anywhere but outside with my bundled-up kids to tromp through the snow half as high as they were. I have photos of them plopped atop huge piles of snow at the end of our driveway--from the plows and the shoveling. I rummaged up some spray bottles and filled them with water and food-coloring, and we created great forts, painted brightly. I taught them how to pack the best kind of snowball and how to flop backwards into a drift and stare at the sky, how to catch snowflakes on their tongues.
It's scary to read "life-threatening" on your weather warning. It's only life-threatening, though, if you're not prepared, or if you insist on getting in the car and trying to go somewhere, or if you're forced to shovel your way out when you've got a heart condition.
Unfortunately, I'm slated to attend my fiction writing class on Tuesday evening, and teach one on Wednesday afternoon, in the city. No word yet on whether anything will be canceled, though I did just get a preemptive email from my son's school superintendent updating us on the possibility of a late start or snow day on Wednesday.
As the snow begins to fall (if it does--I've been through far too many false alarms to fully believe this is going to happen), I will update here as necessary. And you can bet I'll be outside taking pictures and catching snowflakes on my tongue if I can.
Rottlady is updating about the storm in her area here.