We survived the ‘Icepocalypse’

Happy New Year, everyone! Now that the holidays are over and everyone thought it was safe to get back to normal life as we knew it, apparently we needed a little more excitement.

Remember when we were kids and snow days were something that happened seemingly without warning? Snowstorms usually started the evening before, accumulated like crazy over night, and gave us a nice surprise of no school the next day. That was back in the days when a blizzard was called a blizzard, sometimes being graced with the year for referral sake.

These days, every few flakes of snow need to have a Winter Storm Name (possibly for self-esteem), Polar Vortex is the new, much scarier lingo for what used to be simply a cold snap, and people seem to have forgotten what weather is.

Yes, just last month, someone in national weather forecasting referred to freezing temperatures in Decem­ber as “unseasonably cold.” Last I checked, white Christ­mases don’t happen unless the temperature drops into the wintry range.

This year, to start things off with a bang, we have the Icepocalypse. Starting about a week ago, the first forecasts of an ice storm started trickling in. By Wednesday, we were told to expect a major event starting as early as Thursday night. As time progressed, the forecast for ice in harmful quantities remained the same, but the estimated time of arrival kept getting pushed back.

“It’s coming,” they told us. “It’s just going to be a little later than we thought.”

By Friday, many people had stocked up on milk and bread. Around here, I even made sure the power sticks were charged, located the candles and matches, and laid in extra firewood. After all, listening to the forecasters, one might possibly freeze to death when the massive amounts of ice caved in the roof.

After all, this is Kansas. We go outside to watch tornadoes, but a little bit of ice might kill us.

As Friday drew to a dry close, I started developing a sense of humor about the thing. I was curious as to whether the wrestling tournament we planned to attend on Saturday would be cancelled or not, especially since there is a rather nice yarn shop there. Of course, I wanted to stock up on sock yarn so that at least if we froze to death, we’d have nice socks.

Saturday came, and we went (to the tournament). And yes, I made it to the yarn shop. I was pleasantly surprised to see their shelves fully stocked. After all, think of the other people needing socks who mobbed the store before I got there. I needn’t have worried, since we didn’t see any precipitation until we were 10 miles from home. Thankfully, we arrived home without incident.

In all honesty, I’m much more concerned about people who don’t know how to drive on ice than I am about roof collapse, starvation or inadequate hosiery. That’s just me, though.

Today has been gray and rainy; ice that might have formed melted overnight. I suppose that by morning, it will have refrozen, giving national reporters something to get worked up about. “Kansas in the grip of an ice storm” was one headline I heard yesterday. “Kansas braces for another round,” was another. When was the first round?

Oh, and I guess they named this storm, too. It’s now named Winter Storm Jupiter. I guess that has more of a ring to it than “that stuff we got in January.”

From a kid’s point of view, this probably isn’t awful. The lights (and video games) stayed on, and nobody had to worry about keeping the refrigerator shut. Of course, the downside was no snow to play in, and school was already scheduled off for Monday. They’ll just have to miss out on the sheer joy of getting the news first thing in the morning that school is cancelled.

I keep hoping that, with all this modern technology, weather forecasting could become just a little more accurate. Or failing that, perhaps the forecasters could be just a little calmer and less apt to sensationalize whatever phenomenon is due to occur.

I’d be happiest if they would actually educate us about weather, instead of resorting to terminology like “scary looking clouds” or “unseasonably cold” winter temperatures. And, for Pete’s sake, get the timing right. You just shouldn’t rush a good pair of socks.

Here’s hoping your year will be full of pleasant surprises, or at least an absence of unpleasant ones.

Shana Thornhill lives on a farm near Marion. She can be reached at shotah76@yahoo.com.