Jan 5, 2014

Polar vortex

As several blog followers correctly noted, GABROEN has been off the airwaves (or, to be more precise, off the glass optic fiber waves, but that doesn't sound as catchy) for a few months. But with the new year come new opportunities, so we're back on as of today. This is not so much a new year's resolution, as that term should be reserved for things that are a major challenge or a major bore, or both. This is a renewed attempt to connect with family and friends, existing or in the future, using a little more substance than the snippet captions of Facebook and Instagram.

And what better substance for the first blog post of 2014 than what has all social media buzzing already: winter storm Hercules that is plummeting a large part of the US into a deep freeze. The climate in Illinois creates all kinds of new experiences for GABROEN.

We were getting used to severe weather after living for 4 years in Georgia, as well as to the sometimes strangely poetic descriptions of the local weather that the Weather Channel comes up with, but the weather in Illinois comes with a whole new vocabulary. And the Weather Channel now came up with something else: in this Twitter-frenzy era, they started last year with naming snow storms hitting the US, similar to the decades old tradition of naming tropical hurricanes. They seem to have been thinking that a name like this week's 'Hercules' creates more buzz and tweets than having to spend too many of the valuable 140 tweet characters to say 'the snow storm hitting Midwest early Jan 2014'.

Apparently the passing of Hercules not only dumped over a foot of snow on us (currently at 14" or about 40cm since new year's eve), but it opened up the door for a polar vortex. This is a large arctic cyclone that persist year round at close to the North Pole, and occasionally dips down to pay a visit to the US, sort of like a frigid Santa Claus. This time the vortex is forecast to dip down pretty extensively, all the way to the Deep South, with temperatures in Atlanta below those in Alaska. Temperatures in Northern Illinois currently are dropping with about 2 degrees F each hour, and are bound to end up at -17 degrees F (-26 degrees C) tonight. It's still several degrees away from the all-time low of -27 degrees F, but combined with cyclone winds gusting at 30 mph you get a crisis situation for a Mexican Hairless trained for 17 years to do her thing outside. By tomorrow, we are not getting much warmer, and will likely not top the lowest daytime high temperature of -11 degrees F (-23 degrees C). GABROEN will report out in a next post whether that record will indeed be crashed, like when the 5 feet long icicles decorating our gutters will inevitably come crashing down at some point. We may even venture out for a minute, just to experience what such frigidness feels like.

Wishing all a happy New Year with many new experiences, and may the polar vortex not be on your side of the globe.

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