Chicago Blizzard 2011. The February Freeze.

About a week and half back we had a cold day and I thought, ok winter finally caught with us. Because it’s been a pretty odd winter. Not really terribly cold or snowy. It was tough on ME while I waited on a new furnace to be installed but for the most part not too bad. But yesterday a blizzard kicked in and it looks like we’re going to have a few days of constant heavy snow, super severe winds and then super cold. So it’s gonna be tough-and I’ve got a funeral to go to tomorrow in the middle of all this, my 12th since moving back here 5 years ago.
You can also see how far I had to dig just to get to the sidewalk-this was the FIFTH time I dug down to the ground, but that’s thing about a blizzard; the wind just creates drifts and any hole gets filled up within minutes. You can’t win. Shoveling is kind of futile until it’s done. I went for the exercise and to see what would happen. I got the exercise and the snow came right back.

Digging the same spot over and over

But let me tell you something; you cannot win against a blizzard. I had forgotten that. For 20 years I lived in places like Tokyo, NYC, LA, and had stays in Venezuela and Seoul.  We have blizzards in Chicago in

1967, 1979, 1999-80

This time for the 2011 blizzard it was pretty serious. Here are some of things that happened.

-We had white-out conditions

-Lake Share Drive was closed, and that stranded THOUSANDS of people

-Fire Department resorted to using snow machine (or as Sarah Palin calls them “snow machines”)

-The mail STOPPED

-Schools were closed for the first time in 12 years

-Planes canceled, trains canceled, University of Chicago classes canceled

-Part of the ROOF! of Wrigley Fields got blown OFF (I lost siding off my house, see photo below)

-A guy got BLOWN into the lake while walking on Lake Shore Drive

-In fact ELEVEN deaths reported so far

-20.2 inches of snow fell at Chicago-O’Hare International Airport, making this the third largest total snowfall in Chicago history

When I was a kid in the 1980 blizzard here in Chicago I was a paperboy-and yes, it was “old fashioned” even then to have that kind of job. But I left home that morning around 5AM before my mother woke up (otherwise she would have stopped me). So I got my papers and went out to deliver my 60-70 papers. We didn’t use bicycles, we used beat up shopping carts. And let me tell you, at 12 years old and not even 5 feet tall in snow that WAS 5 feet tall it became the worst 4 hours of my life up to that point. I cried and sweat and pushed and pulled and fell and got stuck and stopped and cried some more. It was brutal. I think the boss eventually showed up and “relieved” me for the day so I could get to school for that lat 10 or 15 papers.

An area before shoveling

And after shoveling

But I learned; you cannot win against a blizzard. Tonight was a refresher. I played around in the snow few times to see what I could do against it. Result? Nothing at all. But I had to try. I had one wall of the house where I hadn’t finished a siding job and the storm was ripping off paneling and I could hear my hard work and money being blown first on the ground then down the street. So I just wanted to dig a path to my panels and pink building insulation. Really at this point it’s just debris.

I wanted to get some good photos but the snow is so severe it can’t really be done with a flash. So I took a few shots without the flash. You can even see a city bus stuck in the street. Actually I took the first picture around 3AM and the driver still thought he could get out on his own. Around 10AM a bunch of city service people were talking and then finally got some VERY heavy duty stuff to move the truck. I didn’t take a picture of that part, but all traffic was blocked on that street.

And now it’s getting super cold for February

February 4th was the first day it got pretty cold.

And then Feb 10th (today as I’m editing this post) it’s been pretty brutal. I was supposed to do a bunch of errands but after a little while outside I decided to delay until tomorrow.


Coldest Day of 2011 in Chicago January 21st

Well today was the day to be here if you wanted to freeze your ass off. It was in the “single digits” as they say, but it’s that wind chill that makes all the difference in the world if you have to be outside waiting on a bus or something. But it’s not only been a strange winter, it was also a strange fall.

Last summer ended kinda abruptly. It just started getting cool and right then and there I was sure it was going to be a super cold winter. The last 2-3 years it’s been cold in a sort of Chicago way, but it’s the snow that has really given my back a workout. Just consistently messy outside and as a homeowner in a typical sidewalk accessible neighborhood that means I’m out there shoveling and salting the damn ground all the time. So that’s what I expected this winter.

But that wasn’t the case. It’s been ok. Really. Look at this picture of some early December snow. I’m ashamed to even call it snow-it reminds of the snow I saw in Los Angeles. In the 9 or so years I lived out there I think it snowed about twice; and it looked like this.

Around mid-December we started to get some typical snow like this.

But there’s a catch to all this! Even though the season hasn’t been all that bad, staying in the 20’s and 30’s a lot, there were about 2 weeks in December that were in the low teens. That period were BRUTAL for yours truly. Why? Because. I. Do. Not. Have. A. Furnace. This. Year. Wow! It was intense around here!

And until my MOM of all people suggested I turn on the stove it was really hell. But with the stove on I’m cool. Not cold. Just figuratively “cool.” So the new furnace has “been coming” for obviously a while now, but that industry gets backed up in the winter, and since I’m just one dude living alone I’ve decided to just wait until my time comes rather than pulling them away from some family that really needs it.

Like I said I’m pretty cool, and when I do my exercises I’m even better. Certainly not uncomfortable. But I’m SOOOOO glad I insulated the house inside when I took the walls down, installed the new windows and put the siding on with the insulation underneath the previous years I was here!

And now it’s getting super cold for February

February 4th was the first day it got pretty cold.

And then Feb 10th (today as I’m editing this post) it’s been pretty brutal. I was supposed to do a bunch of errands but after a little while outside I decided to delay until tomorrow.


I think what’s happening during these few days is tougher. Even though it’s not as cold as Jan 21st it’s going several days in a row and that makes it harder. Check out my piece on the Blizzard!

Chicago’s First BIG Snow of 2010

OK, so here we go. This being my third winter of taking pictures outside on either cold or snowy days. I present to you my WORST photos ever. I’ve got a great idiot-proof camera but I defeated it today! And took this horrible collection. I don’t know what the hell I did to the settings, and I couldn’t find a good angle or whatever. It was BRIGHT outside and these look gloomy as hell.

I put the best one first, because it’s all downhill from here…

To add insult to injury I went out of my way to cut these photos with weird dimensions and shapes, so the ONLY consistent thing is the widths are all 470 pixels.

I can’t even keep a simple promise, this last one is actually 480.