Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Love Winter (She Said, Tongue Firmly Planted in Cheek)


I thought for sure I would see parhelia this morning. These "mock suns" or, as we call them here, sun dogs, are caused by light reflected off of or refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. (If it's reflected, they're white; if it's refracted, they're colored!) They are usually seen in the morning and the evening, and though there are usually two sun dogs, one on each side of and parallel to the sun, there can be just one.

There weren't any sun dogs to be spotted this morning, but we have seen them often lately. When sun dogs appear here, it means just one thing: "Baby, it's cold outside!"

And it was: 40 below zero F. this morning. We have a saying in North Dakota: "40 below keeps the riffraff out." Let me tell you, there were no riffraff out and about this morning! (PS - It's "only" 30 below now at 10:00 a.m.)

Instead of parhelia, we saw ice fog. Through the ceiling-to-floor glass windows at work, we had a spectacular view of this phenomenon as it hovered above the sinuous turns of the Missouri River.


This winter's one for the record books. At 61 inches of snowfall here in Bismarck, it's already the 13th snowiest winter on record. And it's only the middle of January! We can get snow here right through the end of April (Okay, I lied. I should have said, even into May).

The road crews are having a tough time keeping the streets cleared, and it's too cold for sand or salt to work. The streets are getting narrower and narrower as time goes by. Accidents are just waiting to happen.

I have never seen this much snow in North Dakota. Ever. (The area of the state that I'm from missed the great blizzard of March 1966.)

Quonsets and pole barn roofs are collapsing. The Wal Mart store in Minot (90 miles north of here) has been closed for a week for fear that the roof might collapse. People are being warned to keep their roof vents clear or poisonous gases could build up inside homes.
If cars aren't garaged or plugged in, they're refusing to start with that truly scary sound of protest: A-r-r-r, A-r-r-r-r-r,
Do readers in the South and in Europe know about plugging cars in? We install a heater under the hood, thread the cord through the grill, add a very long extension cord and plug it into an outlet in the garage or house.


The snow and bitterly cold weather has been hard on the wildlife and we will certainly be hearing high winter kill numbers this spring.


(Click on the picture to enlarge and see which
rust-colored blobs are leaves and which are robins.)



We all have our winter stories to tell: Cars dying, accidents and near accidents, getting stuck in snowbanks, windshields shattering (yes!). Here's what's happened to me since yesterday afternoon:

The building I work in is four stories high, built into the side of a steep hill. As I pulled out of the first-floor parking lot and onto the street, I saw our department director driving ahead of me. How strange - her SUV wasn't moving. Then I discovered that MY CAR wasn't moving either.
We kept spinning our wheels and resting, spinning and resting (it's impossible to get out the other direction - the road ends at Fraine Barracks, which is gated).
I was afraid she would back up into me but fortunately that didn't happen. Finally, I just crossed my fingers, gunned it, laid rubber and swept past her. (I learned today that she turned around, drove quite a ways down the hill, turned back and just floored it!)
When I got home, I discovered I was trapped by my seat belt. It took about 10 minutes for me to unlatch it. I had visions of myself freezing to death in my car, all because of a seat belt malfunction. Lord, what a way to go!
Things were fine until this morning, when Dan couldn't find my keys. (They may be in the car, dropped when I was trying to wrestle myself out of the boa constrictor grasp of the seat belt. Or, they may be in the snow.)
Dan used his keys, warmed up the car and drove it to the convenience store. On a flat tire, as he discovered. Now the tire is shot. Dan drove me to work in his vehicle. We made sure he dropped me off on the third-floor level.


Now you see why I am more sick of winter than I ever have been? Why I want to chuck it all and move somewhere South?
It's a good thing we NoDaks have a sense of humor or we wouldn't make it through.



1. A cozy warm house.
2. Good stick-to-the-ribs meals.
3. A husband who warms up my car every morning.
4. The possibility of temps of 30-40 above by the weekend.
5. The sun is shining!
"Oh, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?" - Percy Bysshe Shelley.
All these photos were taken this month in south central or southwest North Dakota. I borrowed them from KFYR-TV'S Sky Spy photos. Visit the website to view more ND photos and see attributions:
I learned on the news last night that the official low for Bismarck for the previous night was -44 degrees F!


Sometimes It's Good said...

That kind of cold just scares me! I am a true California girl...born and bred here. Anything below 50 degrees is cold to me.
Thanks for sharing your is interesting. You'd have to go up into the mountains to freeze to death here. It couldn't happen in your driveway!

Anonymous said...

Were experiencing freezing weather too, minus 37 this morning we even had freezing fog, its crasy cold!

Julie said...


Yes, we had fog this morning too, after I got to work (and it probably was freezing fog). At first it was just along the river, and it was very pretty. Soon it was right up near the windows.

Laurie said...

Dear Julie,
Honestly I don't know how you can stand it ~ my hubby was stationed in Minot for several years, and he says it was just too darn cold.
It went down to 29 degrees last night and all of us wimpy folks in Mississippi are just a~whining and a~fretting about how cold it is...if we only knew!

Margaret's Ramblings said...

I would guess these are the photos you would pull out in the height of summer when your wondering where the next breeze will come from, LOl. Beautiful photos. Margaret

Eileen said...

Hang in there Julie, this cold snap won't last long - take heart in the fact that our days are 2 -3 minutes longer EACH DAY!!!! You do have alot of snow -kinda like winter 08 in Eastern Ontario -one for the record books too -love your pictures!!!

Anonymous said...

We've had a lot of snow this year too ... not as much as last winter, thank goodness! I've never seen sun dogs before but they are amazing! The only good thing is that you know winter's going to end ... eventually. Stay warm and cozy, Julie!


ps - I'm so sorry to read about your beautiful Penny! **hugs**

Mary said...

OMG Julie, you truly are living in Winter wonderland, BUT having lived in New England, I know how the wonder part soon grows old along with dirty snowbanks and one longs for Spring! Hope so much that you get some gradual warming temps. as you don't want a big quick melt and flooding.

How about moving somewhere warmer? Do you think you will give it serious consideration for the future? As we age it's hard enough getting around safely in a mild climate, but with all that snow and ice it could be disastrous! Why not swap NORTH Dakota for NORTH Carolina - definitely two different versions of 'north' - and you'd find a warm Southern welcome waiting!

Thanks for your lovely comments today - you've been a great blog friend from way back and I truly appreciate knowing you.

Hug up with Dan and stay safe and warm.
Love, Mary.

Lila Rostenberg said...

I know it is hard to deal with!
My son and daughter-in-law are in Minneapolis....another deep freeze!
You are all in my prayers!

Joyce said... way could I make it through that kind of stuff anymore.
We are under a severe "freeze warning" for tonight. We are to "dip" into the 20's which is bad for our neck of the woods.

Our middle son Caleb wrapped the outside faucets and we have covered the plants....brought wood up to the house for the fireplace and have a fire roaring in there even now. HA!
Sounds like "Little House On The Bayou" huh?? HA!
Oh and Caleb will have to "plug in" his truck tonight. Or it won't start tomorrow. HA! Crazy.....but it's a cold hearted diesel.

I did live in Iowa so I do remember those -60 "Windchills" and such. Blah.

I would SO stuck in my house if I lived back North. And they are sooooo long. But once your used to it you deal with it. I'm not used to it any longer. HA!

That was funny about freezing in your car but I have to say.....IF I remember correctly....when that happens I think you just "go to sleep" you said....."What a way to go."
I bought my kids those "Windshield cracker keychains with seatbelt cutters" for Christmas "just incase" anyone plunges into a Bayou or Coolie or some other odd Louisiana waterway which are EVERYWHERE here.
I think you might need one as well....
Becareful my friend when you go out.....I'm wishing you "warm and happy thoughts."
I'll work on your "King Cake" explaination may take me some time. HA! It's "complicated."
As most holidays are.


Anonymous said...

I am trying to stay positive about the cold weather but I don't like it either. You seem to be having it far worse than us. We are trying to stay inside as much as we can. Stay warm and cozy. Hopefully there will be a break soon.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Amazing photos - especially the sun - I'd like to see that - but not bad enough to go to ND.

I think about you often when I see the weather reports - I know you are careful and knowledgable - but this is scary cold.

We lived in Kansas a million years ago and I remember 20 below temperatures. They didn't close the schools - but we kept our kids home - they were CA hothouse flowers and I just couldn't see having them walk out in that cold.

Guess my whining about our 2 1/2 feet of snow here in the PNW sounded wimpy. :-)

Patty said...

Oh my gosh girl..I am sitting here in my house with the heat on to 72 I am still freezing and it is 20 outside..I can not imagine all that snow..brrrrr COLD COLD COLD.
I felt sorry for the poor cow lol..
(I love the photos)

Stay in and stay warm

Leanne said...

wow Julie! i promise faithfully not to moan about our minus one to minus nine frosts again ! We have spring bulbs pushing through, buds forming on trees, i went out today in a cardigan rather than a coat....

Leanne x

Lena said...

Well, I love snow, but this sort of snow and cold temperatures would make even the most ardent winter lover, long for spring. Hang in there Julie.

That sky in the top photo is amazing. I hadn't heard of parhelia before, and I love learning about the sky.

Sandy said...

I thought of you when they were talking about -40º in Fargo as we were complaining about the -10º here in Michigan. I am SO over winter!!!

Anonymous said...

Wow that is a lot of snow, I would love snow but glad not on that scale, weather here is nuts in England, last week we had -6 celsius one day, the next it was 6!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Have left you an award over on my blog, hope you like it, hope you are well fiona

Nancy said...

Hi Julie,
I just found your blog through OHOW, and fine that we have quite a bit in common! My best friend is from Bismarck (her dad still lives there), I also "love" winter (because it doesn't snow much here in N Florida), and am also of Scottish/Irish descent. In fact, my husband and I got married in Glasgow 10 years ago, while on a trip to find my mother's birthplace. I'll be following your blog your writing...and want to make sure the boa seatbelt lets go of you when you want OUT of the car!!