Winter? What winter? The seasons are a changin’

I loved Halloween as a kid. It was that time you could escape reality and become whatever you wanted. I was a bride, a cat, a witch, a flapper girl, a baby, the I Dream Of Jeannie character, and so many more. I remember many Halloweens in Chicago where it was so frigidly cold and/or snowing buckets outside so that all the kids trick-or-treating had to bundle up and wear their heavy winter coats, mittens, hats and scarfs over their costumes which covered the cuteness and took away half the fun of asking for candy.

The seasons are clearly changing, though. Not only do I go to bars instead of going trick-or-treating now, I also recall that two out of three of the past Halloweens have been warm enough to go to the bars without wearing a coat.  If my memory serves me right, the first snow fall of 2010 was on December 1st.  It wasn’t until Feb 2, 2011 when the city had its first HUGE blizzard of the season. The city completely shut down because of the Thundersnow & Snowpocolypse Blizzard of 2011 which dumped over 20 inches of snow in about 24 hours.

Now, here we are again in the middle of winter. Accuweather & Farmers Almanac predicted that the winter of 2011-2012 in Chicago was going to be the coldest and worst winter in the nation. Because of last year’s horrible record-breaking winter, they warned us that, “Bitter cold is expected to come on strong early in the season during December and below normal temps in January.” Turns out, we’ve had two real snow falls so far and a winter so warm that this year is being dubbed the year without a winter. Our first snowfall was not until December 9th but it didn’t stick around long.  The calendar says February, but it sure doesn’t feel like it. It was 45°F on Christmas, making this Christmas the warmest here in 17 years. On January 31st it was almost 60°F, and currently, as I type this on February 25, it is 49°F with the forecast predicting the next few days to follow suit.

It was recorded that last winter O’Hare got 57.9 inches of snow and 67 days with an inch or more of snow on the ground. This winter, as of February 14, O’Hare has reported 15.7 inches of snow with only 10 days with an inch or more of snow on the ground. Granted, last year we had the blizzard so clearly that accounts for more inches, but the day count is notable too.

Some statistics according to Tom Skilling of WGN: (He is THE weatherman of Chicago. If you are a Chicagoan, you know who he is.)

“We have the numbers to back it up.  This has been the 8th warmest winter in Chicago to date.  To find a winter this warm you have to go back 80 years to 1932! We’ve had an uncommonly skimpy 1.7 inches of snow on the books for January 2011.  This is the mildest December in 13 years- December finished nearly 13-degrees warmer than a year ago.  The 2011 reading is warm enough to place the month among the mildest 10 percent of Decembers which have occurred here since records started in 1871.”  That’s some crazy shit, no?

Changes aren’t only occurring in Chicago.  I heard on the news that even Fargo, North Dakota hit 55°F in January, breaking a more than a century year old record.  Across the midwest, temps have been higher than normal with many cities averages being several degrees warmer than last yearWhile we may be enjoying this unusually and pleasantly warm winter here, France is freezing.  The news is reporting that this is the harshest winter Europe has seen since almost 30 years and that over 500 people across Europe have died as a result of this unusually frigid winter.  

Usually when schools get out in June and kids are singing Alice Cooper’s ‘School’s out for the summer’ it is not just because they’re celebrating being out of school (which they clearly are), it is also because the weather is sunny and warm and they can spend their days doing nothing but lounging poolside or at the beach. But not last year. I didn’t go to the beach once. 2010-2011 season seemed to skip Spring – there were no “April Showers Bring My Flowers” – it was still cold and snowing in March & April of 2011. My mother’s annual plants budded and died super early.  It seemed we went from a long drawn out winter straight into rainy weather, in what is usually thought of as ‘the summer months.’ It wasn’t until August through October that we had really warm summer-like weather in Chicago.

This change is making people into wusses.  It was predicted that we were going to get 4-8″ of snow this past Friday.  As a preventive measure, both Midway & O’Hare cancelled flights as early as 6PM the night before.  It would have been one thing if it was even snowing at that point, but it wasn’t. It was barely raining! To cancel 300 flights for nothing is absolutely stupid.  Last year the city of Chicago came under attack for not being prepared for Snowmaggedon, so my gut says they were being over-cautious this time and didn’t want that to happen again. While places close to Wisconsin did get snow, the city didn’t even come close to getting a full inch.  Some schools closed on Friday which would have been unheard of in my day. IT IS WINTER IN CHICAGO, PEOPLE!  It is supposed to snow. No need to cancel flights. That is why we have technology to de-ice planes! 20″ in 24 hours; yes, I can see canceling flights. But at least wait for it to start snowing! Grow a pair, people.

Effects on Mother Nature: I have very mixed feelings about the unseasonably warm weather we’re having. While no one is complaining about the warm weather, warmer winters are dangerous for Mother Nature.  It scares me to think about what is happening and how this will affect the climate and animals. It also scares me that very few people seem concerned.  Temperatures like this can cause the glaciers and polar ice caps to melt and that water has to go somewhere…  The polar bears are dying because their ice platforms are melting.  Great Lakes are not freezing which is causing ice fishing huts to collapse (see slide 18). The unseasonable weather is doing weird things to plants and animals too. It is February 26 and tulip buds are already breaking ground. This is way too early for those perennial spring flowers to survive as it is likely we’ll have some nights where the temps will fall to single digits, killing the plants. Birds are confused and some species haven’t flown south for the winter yet. Dry warm weather increases the risk of forest fires, and short winters can end up exacerbating the spring-allergy season. The flu season is off to a slow start with less reports of people getting sick. The flu transmits faster when people stay inside away from the cold and avoid fresh air but people have been more active thanks to the warmer weather. Weather patterns are unusual – even Texas was under a Tornado watch on January 25th this year.

My Theory/Prediction: This trend might be just a fluke this year. But maybe it’s not.  I have my own theory about what is happening.  Despite the fact that after mid February it is harder for snow to remain on the ground due to increasing sunlight, I believe that Chicago may still get cold & snowy days in the days to come. Even if the snow doesn’t stick around long, I think we still may get a winter storm after the usual winter period is over.  I think it appears the seasons are shifting to start later.  It seems that Summer is  July – Mid October,  Autumn is Mid October to December, Winter is Mid December to Late April and Spring is Late April – July.   And if my theory is correct, we can continue to get winter weather into April. I hope that because we had such a mild winter that doesn’t mean we’ll have a cold or rainy summer.But gosh, if there is ever a time to be wrong. I do I hope it is now!

Technically weather is what happens day-to-day, but climate is what happens over years and decades. I think the climate is changing.  Maybe someday we’ll be telling our children – when I was your age, it was common to wear snow suits over our Halloween costumes and we used to have white Christmases.

{UPDATE: There was a thunderstorm in Chicago, a tornado in Southern Illinois last night and a blizzard in Minnesota yesterday.  For those unfamiliar – it is HIGHLY unusual to see a thunderstorm or tornado in the winter months, let alone all happening in a 24 hour period. It is frightening to watch these Global Warming effects (or as I prefer to call it- Global Changes) continue to happen because things are clearly changing and the future is uncertain. Are we not taking Mother Nature’s warning serious enough?? }

{UPDATE #2: An astonishing 97 tornadoes ravaged the midwest on March 1st killing at least 30 people.  The weatherman on TV said that usually there is an average of 80 for the entire month of March and day 1 surpassed that already. My fear is that this is only the beginning. I predict that this is a warning that this years tornado/hurricane season along with earthquakes and tsunamis will be brutal and that there is a lot of destruction heading our way. I have never wanted to be so wrong in my entire life. It has been about a year since Japan was devastated by an earthquake that then triggered a tsunami. I pray that nothing that tragic happens this year.}

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The Year Of Caryn: 2012 Goals

I realize I’m a little late on the goals-for-the-new-year bandwagon.  Had I written this list on January 1st my list would be entirely different.  A lot has happened since and I finally got around to thinking about the year ahead. I have deemed 2012 – The Year Of Caryn and I have a whole new set of goals that I hope to accomplish this year.

Goals For The Year Of Caryn:

  1. Focus on me. Discover who Caryn is as an individual. Do some soul-searching – figure out what makes me happy and what makes me tick.
  2. Put my needs first. Don’t do something just to please others. If it is something that I don’t want to do or that doesn’t make me happy, DON’T do it.  (This is liberating!) Also note: It’s okay to be selfish sometimes.
  3. Make time to do the things that I’ve always wanted to do but made excuses for, never thought I would have time to do or never thought the time was right.
  4. Follow my dreams.
  5. Get in shape  – this includes running more, attending yoga and core fusion more often and completing a month of Jillian’s 30 day shred.
  6. Find space between digital world and real world.  Disconnect from constantly being connected. Turn off  the cell phone and computer once in a while.
  7. Take a photography class & learn to use a DSLR camera.
  8. Buy that DSLR camera.
  9. Be more proactive about reaching out to those I love.  So many wonderful people have come into my life recently, don’t take them for granted.
  10. Surround myself with those who make me happy. If someone doesn’t make me feel happy/smart/cool/pretty/nice/thin/safe to be my true self/smart enough – then take a step back and re-evaluate the friendship. I want to surround myself with people who make me feel happy and alive and appreciate me.

Blog Goals:

  1. Stay on top of my ideas for blog content and post in a timely fashion. I have 63 drafts just waiting to be finished and published.
  2. Personal posts are okay but add more inspiring content too. The intent of the blog is not to be a diary.
  3. Don’t feel pressured to post if it has been a while.  It is my blog and I should only post when I have content I want to share.
  4. Create a new blog name. Please feel free to submit suggestions. Seriously.
  5. Buy my own domain with said new blog name.
  6. Hold more contests, interviews, giveaways etc. Be a more active blogger but still adhere to Goal 3.
  7. Embrace all that blogging has brought into my world and continue to grow with it.
  8. Learn CSS and improve technical skills

What are your goals for 2012? 

Top 10 reasons you should sign up for #BiSC

10  Reasons I Can’t Wait For #BISC/ You Should Sign Up To Be On The Waitlist*:  

*It sold out within a week this year, but you should still put yourself on the waitlist!

1. Bloggers In Sin City is an experience of a lifetime.   Seriously, no joke. You spend 4 days in Vegas with 60 of the best people on earth who you probably have a lot in common with, ya know, since we’re all bloggers and all.

2.Contrary to what is said about Vegas, “What happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” that isn’t true with this group.  Not only does most everything get posted online after, the friendships I made from just one weekend last year have continued well beyond that weekend. Some of the people I met have turned out to be a few of my favorite and closest friends!

3. You could win a free trip to Vegas! No, for real. See point 4…

4. We have awesome sponsors like Caesars Entertainment, Flamingo Hotel, Skyy Vodka, Sprayology, Paper’d and I’m sure there will be more soon. Paper’d is the next IT iPhone/iPod app, I promise you.  It is due to be released next month. It is the brain child of the people behind Shatterboxx, another sponsor, which automatically makes it a worthwhile product, sight unseen. Talk about talented web designers. *BONUS* Thanks to Paper’d, one lucky blogger will be going to Bloggers in Sin City FOR FREE (see I told you!)

5. The event generated 4500+ tweets and 100+ blog posts in 2011.

6. This weekend last year changed me and changed my life: Literally. Without BiSC, 2011 would have played out completely different. It forced me out of my comfort zone, taught me so much about myself and about life, and I met so many supportive & loving people.  Without them, I would not have been able to make it through a recent difficult patch in my life.  Honestly, they are the most supportive group of people I have ever met and my life is better today because of everyone I met at BiSC. Sappy & cheesy – but true.

7. It’s practically all-inclusive: we stay at the Flamingo Hotel in the awesome Go Rooms, we get an awesome swag bag, we enjoy a private dessert-tasting at Serendipity3 (yum, even though its death for me…), we have our own reserved area at the Flamingo Pool, we will party like rock stars at Chateau during our Mad Men Themed Lounge Party at Paris Hotel, we have tickets for Zumanity, we and feast on 2 group buffet dinners and a farewell brunch.  Not to mention you meet 60 new best friends. All this is included in your registration fee, that’s pretty all-inclusive if you ask me!

8.  I look forward to this weekend all year round.

9. I now have friends all over the country!

10.  We call ourselves BiSC-uits because we bonded THAT much last year. BiSC-uits For Life, yo! 🙂

So if you aren’t already signed up, what are you waiting for? Go on, put yourself on that waitlist! Oh, and make sure you’re following @sincitymeetup on Twitter and the official #BiSC hashtag.
See you in Vegas!