Jan 13, 2014

Alberta Clipper

After last week's polar vortex caused butt-freezingly low temperatures (see the post Polar vortex), GABROEN will be treated to another weather phenomenon. The National Weather Service issued a special weather statement for our area for tomorrow, warning for a so-called 'Alberta Clipper'. Not to be confused with a 'Manitoban Mauler' or 'Saskatchewan Screamer' - I'm not making this up, believe me. All three terms are related, describing a low pressure winter storm that originates in Canada and moves rapidly across the Midwest and Great Lakes. The difference between the three is where the storm originates, most commonly in the Canadian Province of Alberta, and rarely in the other two.

So we'll get ready for another clipper rolling over us tomorrow, which should come with rapidly dropping temperatures and strong winds. Wind chills, ahoy!
The area got beaten up hard last week, first from a foot of snow and then from subzero temperatures. Chicago's already spent 60% of its Winter 2014 snow removal budget, just in the first week of the year. Most of it went to salting and plowing the roads, but a good chunk also got poured into filling potholes. The roads got seriously wrecked in just one week. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel even declared a 'war on potholes', ordering crews to work 7 days a week till April to fill up as many of those tire-popping, axle-wrecking babies in the city's roadways. Supposedly they already filled 20,000 since the temperatures returned to more asphalt-friendly levels last Thursday.

The mayor of our small neighbor town of Highwood seems to be less militaristic in his approach than Rahm E., or perhaps he's more budget-savvy, or more indifferent to the whole pothole thing. At least that's what it looked like when GABROEN drove through town on Saturday. Kind of like a cluster bomb impact, as if the potholes had declared a war on Highwood instead. Or maybe it's the Canadians with their arctic cyclones, clippers and screamers.

The potholes are filled with melted snow water by now, and I'm sure tomorrow's Alberta Clipper will do wonders in rapidly freezing them and turning Highwood's roads in a concrete Emmenthaler cheese. An old Dutch cheese commercial boasted: "the holes is where the flavor is". Not a particularly convincing slogan, and no particular analogy with the condition of our roads.

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