Chicago has had its fair share of wild weather this winter as we enjoy the snowiest season since 1979. I can remember winters where you could count on one hand the number of times snow had to be shoveled. This season, it seems when we’re not reeling from a freakishly warm day in the 50s, we’re out shoveling for a second and third time in 24 hours.
This past week has been particularly tough with rain, sleet, ice, snow and negative wind chills. To add insult to injury, many suburban cities have run out of salt, Evanston included. I didn’t think that was even possible, but apparently it is. Barges carrying salt up the Mississippi River have been slowed by ice but once they make their deliveries, Evanston, it seems, has exceeded its allotment of salt, leaving the city to use alternate methods to keep the streets clear. This is only the second week in February; the snowy season has just begun.
The timing couldn’t be worse. Wednesday night, after a few hours of rain and sleet which refused to change over to snow until rush hour, the streets quickly became a nightmare. Washboard is the term most often used to describe the bumpy ride, which feels like you’re driving over rumble strips of snow-packed ice. While some western burbs got a foot of snow, Evanston received maybe five inches which was enough. I hear another storm is in the forecast for next week.
It’s Saturday and the city is still digging out and scraping off, trying to clean up as much as possible before this evening when we dip to a low of 2, with a predicted wind chill of -25. (Incidentally, those are the high temps called for tomorrow as well.) Before Friday, Chicago had only clocked in eleven minutes of sunshine, which we could desperately use to help melt the ice and evaporate the lakes that are growing in the gutters and intersections, making crossing the street a challenge if you’re not wearing thigh-high waders.
The city has been spreading dirt in lieu of salt, which I guess is better than nothing, but it sure makes for a mess. Apparently the environmentally friendly liquid deicer they’re using to extend what little salt they have left contains beet juice. Who knew. So far I haven’t seen any bright red streets.
This afternoon, as temps eked into the thirties and the sun continually threatened to appear, things began to melt, huge icy hills of frozen snow receding ever so slightly. Sudden bangs and clatters could be heard when chunks of ice and snow pack broke and fell from the roofs and gutters. Watch for falling ice!
Walking the half-block to the townhome’s mailbox is a death defying act right now. Half the units have failed to remove the snow and ice from their walks. Lazy asses. I got out this afternoon and tried to do the neighborly thing, chipping away at some of the semi-melted ice. One of my neighbors appeared, banged on the icy sidewalk with his shovel for less than a minute and then disappeared back inside. Wuss.
At 3 p.m., I’d been chipping away for about 45 minutes when I’d done about as much damage as I could without an ice pick. Oh and look now…it’s snowing.