Just another Polar Vortex in Michigan’s UP

Sorry, you're going to have to look at old pics from 2011.  It's too cold for me to go outside and take any new photos.

Sorry, you’re going to have to look at old pics from 2011. It’s too cold for me to go outside and take any new photos.

Good chilly blanket-wrapped morning!

I hope you’re keeping warm, readers.

Let’s pour a cup of coffee–or would you like tea?–or hot cocoa?–and chat for a spell.

So many everyday conversations begin and end with weather these days. Our thermometer shivers at -10 (-23 C) this still-dark Tuesday morn.  My husband just warmed the car in the driveway (it started suspiciously with that telltale err-err-err sound even though he bought a new battery last week) and drove through -32 (-35 C)wind chills to his job at the Sentinel.

I, on the other hand, live in the lap of wood stove stoking luxury.  Most of our schoolchildren in the western Upper Peninsula stay at home, protected from that wind chill, yesterday and today.  Therefore, I stay at home.

Theoretically, that is.

All these photos by Chris Ford, who works at the Sentinel with Barry.  He's a snowmobiler.

All these photos by Chris Ford, who works at the Sentinel with Barry. He’s a snowmobiler.

Yesterday morning, I drove in to the school and prepared for Wednesday night’s school board meeting.  The trip proved rather uneventful, except for the car’s bright light and dimmer switch, which is not behaving.  The car must go into the shop for repair, except the multi-function switch (which has been replaced before) costs, oh, maybe $375 plus labor, so we’re pondering this briefly before making an appointment, thinking perhaps it might miraculously fix itself.

You must understand I am not complaining, dear reader.  I am trying to merely factually describe what is happening these days.

So last night’s temperatures hovered in this range.  The wind blew snow sideways creating whiteouts.

Our township meeting started at 7 p.m.

At 4:30 p.m. the phone rang.  It was our township clerk.

“Are we cancelling the meeting?” I asked breathlessly, hopefully.

Don't they look like they're having fun?

Don’t they look like they’re having fun?

“I wish!” she said. “Nah, I need you to pick me up.  Our diesel isn’t plugged in so it probably won’t start.”

“OK,” I replied, frowning a bit, because wouldn’t it be nice to stay home inside when dire warnings flash across national headlines like EVERYONE STAY HOME!

At 5:15 p.m. I call the supervisor.

“What about cancelling the meeting?” I asked.

“You girls are always trying to cancel the meeting,” teased the supervisor (OK, I’m choosing to interpret this as teasing.) “What would you do if it got REALLY cold?  This isn’t cold at all!”

In his defense, he was referring to the many days of -25 (-31 C) temperatures we often experienced “back in the days”.  During these toasty times of global warming it rarely dips below -10 (-23 C).

Dear readers, at this point I had a choice.  I could say, OK-Dokey, have fun at the meeting without me.  Or, “C’mon, I INSIST we cancel the meeting!” but sometimes we crazy Yoopers (Upper Peninsula folk) just go with the flow.

“See you at 7,” sighed I.

Ride on, my friend.  Ride on.

Ride on, my friend. Ride on.

In the meantime I called the assessor who lives 45 miles away and said, “Don’t come.”  Called the 82-year old zoning and administrator who lives in town and left a message on his machine, “Don’t come to the meeting.”

And off I scurried on an adventure.  Took the car whose headlights worked properly.  Barry heated her up for fifteen minutes.  I dressed in snow pants, heavy snow jacket, warm boots, scarf, mittens, everything but the kitchen sink.  Crept along at 35 mph through sometimes whiteout conditions headed ten miles toward the fire hall.

Picked up the clerk half way.

“This is terrible!” she complained.

I nodded.

We laughed as we drove to the meeting.

Two community members showed up.

The meeting lasted a half hour.

We crept back toward home, joking all the way.

“Call me at 8,” I told the clerk after dropping her off.  “If I don’t answer–you must come and find me.”

“Oh great!” she sighed.  (But I knew she would come a’searchin’ if necessary.)

By 7:50 I arrived home.

All disasters averted.  Home safe & sound.

Just another winter day in a Polar Vortex in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

You all staying safe and warm?

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
This entry was posted in January 2014 and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Just another Polar Vortex in Michigan’s UP

  1. Ally Bean says:

    I cannot imagine why TPTB would insist on having a meeting when the weather was so awful. But then, there are many things that I cannot understand, so I’ll just add this story to the list! 😉

    I am relieved to know that you made it through the madness and arrived back at home safe & sound & warm & calm. What a day you had! It’s cold here, but not THAT cold. You are, indeed, a Yooper.

  2. bree1972 says:

    Hey sweet friend! Thinking about you as we sit here in chilly Georgia (16 this morning), a practically balmy temp compared to yours. Once we move to Florida, I have a deal for you. Come spend a few days with me in the dead of winter in Florida, and I’ll come spend a few days with you in the dead of winter in the UP. Then we’ll each write about the other’s winter environment. What’cha think?

  3. Trying to stay warm in West Central Ohio…..I still love snow days (even though I am retired) But I don’t have to be out in the weather…..

  4. lisaspiral says:

    Orion and I braved the cold last night because our adaptive yoga class wasn’t cancelled. It was our first day in class and only 4 students showed up so there was plenty of staff support. I didn’t think it was so bad, but there were two cars in the ditch on the way home – and it’s not a long drive. Maybe us “natives” who remember weather “back in the day” need our perspectives adjusted!

  5. Who doesn’t cancel a meeting under those conditions? And who are the 2 folks who showed up? They must live next door or be compete idiots. Okay, sorry, I’m a cynic, I suppose. No one should be out driving around in those conditions. I’ll stop now. Sorry–says someone living within 200 miles of equator. What do I know. Suppose you all are used to this. STAY WARM!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

  6. Bonnie says:

    Brrrrrrrrrr. Stay warm and safe by your fire. Think warm thoughts.

  7. Dawn says:

    Brrr. My son attends Univ of ND in Grand Forks – they even closed yesterday. How do you all manage in that cold? Miracle merino wool long undies can only help so much… just saying. Take care and stay warm.

  8. Yup, an old fashioned winter so far, just like the ones we had in the late 1970’s. Throw another log or two on the fire and hang in there, it’s supposed to get warmer this weekend.

  9. Barb says:

    Safe…check…warm, check…staying tucked safely inside instead of going to gym..you bet! We are currently registering -5 degrees with wind chills down to 30 below. I am staying in the house, and contemplating a chicken soup recipe! Be safe, and try to keep warm!

  10. Here in central Ohio it was -7F this morning but we’re missing all the snow!.

  11. of course the supervior was a man with his man brain kicking in–when will they start thinking with their brains–my husband just went to work with my youngest son literally kicking and screaming and all kinds of warnings–he is an intelligent man–but he is not using what God gave him right now and I am really mad!

  12. Holy Toledo Kathy – If even the Apple store in Deer Park, Illinois closes because of brutally cold weather (and it ONLY closes on Christmas and Easter), than it’s too bone-cracking fierce to be out and about. Like you, we’re oh-so-grateful for our wood burning stove! Today I’m staying inside where it’s warm and toasty, to finish up handouts for an interactive workshop I’m presenting at the Grand Geneva in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin this coming Saturday. Let’s hope I don’t get lost in a snow drift coming or going!

  13. twinkie3 says:

    -24 F here in Hayward with a -30 F wind chill. I heard on the news that Rhinelander has the Nation’s cold spot at -52 F, wind chill included. The Hayward Community School system has closed now for two days in a row, which is unheard of. The mantra used to be “If you don’t want your child out in the elements, let him stay home.” Today I must go to Rice Lake to get plates for the car we bought from David’s dad. Not looking forward to it. Off to Minneapolis tomorrow. And Thursday I get to ski, because it is supposed to be a balmy 19! I don’t understand the fuss though, It gets this cold every year! But perhaps not with this frequency. This weather is good for only one thing: making ice luminaries!

  14. I’m watching goose bumps creep up on my skin as I read your temps, your bravery on going out at night, your upbeat message (what IS the message – go out even if it’s crazy ridiculously non-earth-like freezing outside?) It’s a toasty 47 degrees here early this morning in the bay area. Everyone here wears scarfs and winter coats and gloves to take their dogs out at this time of day (seriously). Later, it will be 60 and sunny.
    And still, people wear their scarfs.

  15. This morning felt worse than yesterday morning (I think we’re currently at -18F at 9 AM) so I take back all my shocked words when yesterday afternoon they already had again canceled school for today. However, we did get outside the past couple days to try to find a way to appreciate the air that makes you catch your breath (heck, need to have something to talk about in the blog, right?!). Stay warm, northern friend!

  16. Heather says:

    You went to a meeting; I took the Petey Pup to doggie daycare for socialization. I also dressed in everything but the kitchen sink, and packed the car with survival kit. Slow driving in the occasional white-outs, but otherwise not too bad.
    Let us know if your car fixes itself. I’ve always had a suspicion that they could, but simply choose not to 😉

  17. So you effectively sabotaged the meeting by calling two well deserving persons to stay safe at home…now will they tell? Good for you….why did you go? Could you explain that again? :). 🙂

  18. Carol says:

    You are a much better pioneer woman than I. Okay, so I’m a major wimp. I would not have gone to that meeting, no matter what sort of verbal challenges were aimed towards me. There is no business that is that important. Just sayin’.

  19. Pat says:

    One of the things J & I commented about when we were in southern Michigan for December, was how much work it is to live in winter in the northern parts of the US. My sister lives in Rice Lake WI which is really close to the coldest place in the nation this morning. My prayers are for all of you to be safe and not loose your sanity. Southern Florida is cold today but I dare not complain – but I wish I had brought my silk longjohns. 🙂

  20. lucindalines says:

    Oh my why are some people so stubborn. I was supposed to substitute teach on Monday. On Sunday night when they had not called off school yet, I called and said I wouldn’t be driving 45 miles in this weather. A few hours later I learned they called it off anyway. Nothing is that important that lives should be risked. Nothing at all.

  21. Oh, you are so good! It is bitter out there! If you get stuck in a drift or skid off the road, choices are few. It is too cold to walk for help. It is too cold to survive for long inside the car. The fear of carbon monoxide poisoning prevents keeping the car running. Cell phones are no good in these woods…how about in yours? Be careful! So glad to hear you made it home safe and sound!

  22. Lori D says:

    Wait! Are you saying that it wasn’t only -10, but it was a blizzard too? You crazy Yooper! We all know that when the windchill is -32, it really isn’t -10. It’s -32. I’m tossing around a blog post in my head about this global warming vortex. I wonder if it will make it out of my head and onto the page …

  23. sandiwhite says:

    I can only hope that what ever issues were resolved were worth risking life and limb for. But that’s just me, speaking from a relatively safe 10 degrees in Georgia. Please stay safe and warm!

  24. Joanne says:

    Well yes, I am staying warm and toasty, seeing as you ask, Kathy, so much so in fact that I bought a portable air-conditioner yesterday for my office/sewing room so that I could work successfully during this heat-wave we are having! But what a trooper you are, going off to the meeting in that temperature, in that snow! How do you even know where the roads are to drive along them when they are whitened out by piles of snow? I simply cannot imagine it. Stay safe and warm. xx

  25. Dana says:

    When I lived in Alberta, I had to (wo)man a sexual health booth for the Girl Guides one winter day. It was a Girl Guide expo– girls from all over the province would be coming for the event and could earn badges from more than 50 informational booths. However, when the actual day approached, we were hit with A TON OF SNOW, more snow than I can ever remember in the city. I literally walked for miles in WAIST-DEEP snow to make it to this event (because the Girl Guides were DEPENDING ON ME for accessible sexual health knowledge, right?) I called in advance to make sure it was still on. “Come quickly!”, was the response. “The Expo is definitely still on.” Well. At the Expo. ALL of the booth presenters (50+) had shown up, but only SIX Girl Guides made it. Six! Oh, it was creepy. We were all eying those poor girls, like “pick my booth! pick my booth!”, and they were all clustered together in the center of the room not wanting to earn any badges or speak to anybody for any reason whatsoever. After all of that, I had to trudge BACK HOME in the super deep snow. Somebody offered to give me a ride, but the car got stuck 10 feet out of the parking lot.

    This long comment is meant to commiserate with your winter weather meeting woes. I don’t understand why your meeting (or my expo) weren’t cancelled in those conditions… (But I’m happy you’re safe!)

  26. My hat’s off to you, Kathy. It’s not quite as cold here but it is more than cold enough for me. I bundled up in multiple layers to take out the garbage and pick up the mail, then came back inside and made a cup of dark hot chocolate with a shot of Baileys Creme Caramel. That triggered a nice hot flash and then I was able to move my fingers again and sort the mail…

  27. Brenda Hardie says:

    Oh my gosh, Kathy! I am so glad you made it to and from the meeting safely! Why wouldn’t they cancel the meeting? Please be really careful over the next few days with more freezing weather and then snowy weather coming this weekend. School was canceled again today but the weather warmed up a bit already…it’s 9 degrees with a wind chill of 3 degrees. Tomorrow’s high will be below zero again….crazy up and down weather again.
    Please stay safe, warm and cozy, Kathy ♥

  28. Oh I remember a particular ski pant drive vividly. The seat of the car was frozen solid and there was ice on the floor of that little old honda civic with its front wheel drive. With the heater on full blast I still had to keep scrapping the ice off the inside of the windshield to keep a whole open to see where I was going. It was 40 below and I should have stayed home and stoked the wood stove but I didn’t. Instead I headed out on the highway for over an hour long trip to meet a friend. Like you, all ended well. Hope you warm up soon Kathy.

  29. sonali says:

    This once day of yours and the half hour meeting seems so much full of adventure! My goodness! Ooohhh… Be careful while you drive in this peak winter. I truly admire your spirit and the positive attitude and going with the flow.. our folks would have been really scared to even think of stepping out, I believe.

  30. john says:

    Sisu, I tell you, sisu is what you have! A true Yooper … even if you are from Yale. I commend you on your North woods fortitude.

  31. dawnkinster says:

    -17 yesterday on the way to work. Before windchill. I’m done with this winter already! Glad you are safe. Hope there was something vitally important to discuss at the meeting. Did the 2 community members have something they wanted to discuss? Or do they just attend all meetings?

  32. Robin says:

    You are brave. I would have insisted they cancel the meeting (especially if it’s only 30 minutes worth of business to conduct). So glad you made it there and back safely. It’s cold here, but not worth complaining about since it’s not nearly as cold as what a lot of you folks have been experiencing. Everything is crispy, crunchy, and icy, but the sun is shining and the birds seem happy that the wind has died down. Life is good. 🙂

  33. P.j. grath says:

    I used an old photo on my blog today, too. Only a couple weeks old, but not new. Also, our truck wouldn’t start. Fuel injection starter problems. Borrowed a car from the neighbors. One day at a time…. Oh, and BUNDLED UP!!!

  34. Old pictures???!!! Well YOU’re no fun!! I’m only teasing…those camera batteries might not last long enough to take a picture! That is COLD!! I’d send you some Texas warmth, but it’s pretty darn chilly here, too….at least for Texas. To you our low 40’s would probably feel like swimsuit weather 😉

  35. Stacy says:

    For the South, I guess we had a vortex (what used to be called a “snap”). It was in the teens for three or four days. I’m not complaining either – you know I’m a winter soul, Kathy. But it did kill my camellia blossoms.

    Stay warm and I hope your car fixes itself. ❤

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