The first snow of 2016 came last yesterday. We had not a light dusting, but rather enjoyed a few inches of the white stuff - enough to cover the huge fir tree outside my office window with clumps of snow.
What starts out as a simple, clean blanket of white when it falls typically becomes a series of drifts and valleys, as the prevailing wind winds its way around the house, outbuildings, and trees. Its all a lovely sight, particularly from the warmth of the house.
This has been an odd season, as anyone living in the region can report. Today's single digit high stands in sharp contrast against the (relatively) balmy temperatures of just a few days ago. My entire life here in the Midwest people - mostly farmers - have been heard to say "if you don't like the weather, wait a minute - it'll change". This seems to be more true as time goes on, with the specter of of climate change looming.
Though it's our first snow for the year, it's not the first touch of winter weather for the season. Just ahead of the end of the year - on both Christmas Eve-eve, which I wrote about here a couple of weeks ago, and in the week between - freezing rain caused us to lose power. The first event was brief - an overnight occurrence. The second was nearly two full days. Power outages of multiple days at a time are an occurrence we are somewhat familiar with out here. I want to say that we've had at least one a winter since we moved here, though looking through actual records suggests it's more sporadic than that, and not isolated to winter.
ComEd will, if you ask, send texts reporting power outages in your home (in case you weren't aware of it, I guess), and then send updates on their progress in restoring service. This communication from them is somewhat of a mixed bag. While you are sitting in the dark of your home, snuggling for warmth under a blanket, listening to the high winds whip their way past the window, you can receive a helpful text that says:
Outage to area [your address] analyzed. Probable cause: severe weather.
This, of course, is slightly less helpful than one might hope. And it's then often followed by predictions of a day and time at which your power will be restored. Those restoration targets appear to be based on an algorithm that uses hope and imagination as its primary variables. ComEd does not employ the Jobsian principle of under-promising and over-delivering.
Now, to be entirely fair, every time the power goes down the linemen are out, actively working, often in awful conditions, to restore power. And I'm quite sure they aren't responsible for that reporting algorithm.