Thursday, February 6, 2014

"SnowNado": One tough winter with Snow Dec 2013 through February 2014

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"SnowNado": One tough winter with Snow Dec 2013 through February 2014

By Ray Hanania

We live in Chicagoland so we shouldn't complain about the excessive snow and the sub-Zero temperatures.

But this winter has been tough.

January 2014 ranked 3rd in terms of total snowfall in Chicagoland history. Here is that history, top 5 months for snowfall:

January 1918: 42.5 inches
January 1979: 40.4 inches  (The snow that got Jane Byrne elected)
January 2014: 33.5 inches (The one we just had)
December 1951: 33.3 inches
January 1978: 32.3 inches
Ironically, the big snowfall of 1967 which shut down the entire Chicagoland area is not on that list because the snowfall was spread out over several months.
And on February 1, 2011, a total of 21 inches fell on Chicagoland creating that hard to forget image of cars stranded on Lake Shore Drive for days in downtown Chicago.
In 2013, Chicagoland didn't have any snow until Jan. 25.
That's called whacky weather.
I bought a large Sno-Tek Snowblower in 2012 anticipating a tough snowfall that never came that year. The snowblower cost about $550 and honestly, Sno-Tek is a terrible brand to buy. I wouldn't buy it again. The blades jammed on a rock and broke the screw holding the blades on the rotor. I called in a mechanic from Sears for $129 to fix it - the cause of the problem wasn't obvious, of course. But when he arrived, he explained that it was just one screw and showed me how to fix it if it happens again. Talk about getting "screwed."
Then, last week, the Choke lever broke off. Turns out it is made of plastic and when it gets too cold, the plastic doesn't hold up well. I've managed to get the Sno-Tek started without the choke after repeatedly pulling on the engine rope starter. What a hassle.
Once I got past the Sno-Tek snowblower problems, then I had to deal with the weather. Maybe that's why it's been especially annoying this winter because of the Sno-Tek problems with their equipment.
The wind added to the misery as I plowed the driveway, which is long and can hold 5 cars bumper-to-bumper in two rows, winding. I have to play the "wind" near the house first and then move to the straight portion of the driveway to clear it properly. But there has been so much snow it has literally piled up in mounds higher than 4 feet along the driveway, like a wall.
They say don't clean the snow off of the shrubs, especially if the snow turns to ice as it can damage the trees. But one large shrub is leaning so much now under the weight of all the snow on its crown that I have to cut it down this Spring. But I had to carefully remove the eight inches of snow off the top of the bushes -- carefully -- to ease the weight. And that snow was replaced by another six to eight inches of new snow.
And even worse is that when I pull the car into the garage, the snow on the car melts and int he morning there is a puddle on the garage floor. I clean the car before putting it in the garage but that doesn't eliminate all of the snow that melts. It doesn't take much snow to create a puddle right at the back of the car when I want to open the trunk.
The tough winter has also hit many suburban communities that are strapped for cash and only purchased limited supplies of salt for the roads, making the roads even more dangerous.
In driving from Orland Park to the offices of one of my clients in Cicero, the roads were treacherous until I got to Bridgeview, where the streets were cleaned. Cicero, too, was good.
Here are some pictures to help us remember this winter snow storm:


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