One cannot rule out a blizzard in Minnesota

This content has been archived. It may no longer be relevant

One cannot rule out a blizzard in Minnesota after Labor Day, and so when I travel for Thanksgiving or any time in the fall, I am careful to fly into Des Moines instead of Minneapolis and then drive the 200 miles north to my hometown.

Hope Jahren

12 thoughts on “One cannot rule out a blizzard in Minnesota”

  1. Strictly speaking, one cannot rule out a blizzard in Alberta at any time of year; we once had one on the August long weekend, just a few miles from where I live. (Next day, one of the local papers had a front-page picture of kids having a snowball fight in the aftermath.)

    Nevertheless, when we travel at any time of year, we are careful to fly into our own local airport and not do something silly like drive 200 miles because of an irrational fear that air traffic control can’t handle bad weather. It’s their call, not ours, if the plane needs to be diverted.

    I’ve never been able to understand this weird hangup that many Americans have about winter. Weather is still just weather, even if it’s bad enough to kill. It isn’t voodoo. What gives?

    • I don’t know, Tom.

      However, I’m friends with several Albertan expats and they tend to keep track of weather in the locations where their Canadian family members still reside.

    • I’ll also add that, when I was sprouting, my family lived in Minnesota.

      After one big snowstorm that included lots of wind, we heard several loud booms from the direction of the closest highway.

      Later, we learned that a very large drift (about three feet higher than a semi-truck when we drove through it later) had developed and changing temperatures while the blizzard was howling had created a very hard drift. Two large heavy-duty snowplows were damaged while trying unsuccessfully to break through the drift.

      The solution was to acquire a significant amount of dynamite and set off several explosions to break up the drift so various types of highway department equipment could make a one-lane path through the piled-up snow.

      During the same blizzard, a similar drift closed off a smaller county road that was a more direct way into town from our house. The county’s solution was to wait for spring, let most of the snow melt, then plow the road.

      • We don’t get drifts that deep in Alberta, thank God, but we do get the wind to make up for it. On a really good bad day in January, the snow falls horizontally all the way to Manitoba.

        This may be another reason why we don’t fret about flying in winter. If there is a blizzard, it’s far safer to be in an aeroplane than on the highway, watching with a sinking sense of imminent catastrophe while the vehicle in front of you is swallowed up by the snow-filled ditch that is visually indistinguishable from the road.

      • I remember one winter going out to shovel my car out of the plowed snow, only to find out that after 1/2 hour of shoveling that I was uncovering the wrong car.

        There were reasons I moved to California, and this sort of thing was very near the top of the list.

      • There are entire parts of the country I don’t want to live in, because of the 20-inches-of-snow-in September factor 🙂

        I was talking about this five minutes ago with a friend, whose ex-husband in Wyoming just had 4-inches of snow yesterday. She told me that in Wyoming, they even get snow in July. Apparently parts of the state are 7000 feet above sea level, so that solves the early snow mystery.

        I’m sorry, but I have rules about winter: it should not occur before the autumnal equinox 🙂

        • How about after new year? Parts of Northern Ohio are generally cold but snow-free until at least December. But come late february the eastern counties match Buffalo. Lake Erie only delays the carnage…

          • Oh, that would be fine, except for “Dreaming of a White Christmas” factor. And I know the month of March is sneaky — I remember the Gloria Estefan bus accident way back when.

            I’d heard Estefan’s music, but never knew her face until her bus crashed and she had to learn to walk again. What stuck out in my mind forever after was that she deliberately waited until March to do her concert tour, because she was trying to avoid snow. So the snow-covered road that particular day in March must have come as an unwelcome surprise.

            Then again, it’s tricky to find places to live based on weather. Nature finds some way to try and kill us. If it’s not a hurricane, it’s a blizzard, an earthquake, a tornado, a tsunami — it’s always something.

  2. No idea.
    One guess might be that some airports are old and…optimistic in design, near rivers, harbors, or structures that limit margin for error and that triggers the faint of heart.
    (We only hear from the fearful; the trusting don’t bother.)
    There’s also noise restrictions imposed to accomodate residential areas built up *after* the airports were operating for decades.
    See this:

    • The author of that article forgot Hong Kong, where, I am told, the clearance alongside the runway is so narrow that you can easily see into people’s apartment windows as you whiz by.

      My father had to use that airport on occasion back in the day. I suppose it was from him that I got an extra dose of sang-froid, because compared with Hong Kong, flying in or out of Calgary on instruments alone, with zero visibility, in any amount of snow, is a picnic in the park with an emphatic tra-la.

Comments are closed.