OK, it was 70 degrees Tuesday, so I am officially declaring winter over before it's really begun. I know, it's Minnesota, where it can snow in May, but I'll go out on a snowless limb here and declare that spring is here.
A reckless prediction? No way. There will be no tournament snowstorms this year. Barring a thunderstorm, local Irishmen and women will be able to enjoy their St. Patrick's Day parades this weekend instead of freezing during them. It might even be humid. We could be saying 'hot 'nuff for ya?' in March.
We all know the story of this past winter, or what there was of it. We had a brown Christmas, a mostly brown January, and only a couple of what you could classify as winter storms in February. And even that's a stretch. I'd hardly call them storms. More like headaches.
Stick a shovel in it, the winter of 2011-12 is dead.
It was a party for commuters, a dream for cities and counties watching every penny they spend on clearing roads and moving snow, a drag for kids, and an unfortunate bust for some businesses. It was the winter that wasn't.
Despite how "nice" of a winter it was for most of us, the last few months tell part of a creepy story about our extreme weather, according to a report from Environment Minnesota that says global warming will lead to more of this kind of weather. We enjoyed this past winter for what it wasn't, but it has left us with some concerns, especially when it comes to drought.
Old Man Winter should be embarrassed, but he's more popular right now than Peyton Manning. Some will tell us that he was beaten down this winter season by New Man Warming, as in global, who has taken over as supreme ruler of our weather.
But who wants to get into the global warming debate? Not me. Personally, there's a story behind the story of this past winter, and the best way to sum it up is to take a look at six simple numbers, my numbers - they should tell you all you need to know:
0 - The number of times I got stuck sleeping overnight in the Independent's conference room because of the weather. Also the number of times I slipped on the ice and fell. And the number of vehicles I saw in the ditch, the number of times I slid through an intersection, the number of times I heard someone complain about the tubing hill at Garvin Park not being open, the number of times I hunkered down, and the number of ice dams I cleared away.
1 - The number of times I heard the term "ice dams." Because there were none. Also the number of school closings for most, if not all, area schools. Also the number of snowmen I spotted in Marshall and number of times my power went out this winter.
2 - The number of snowballs thrown at me by my daughter. Also the number of times I used 4-wheel drive - and that was just to make sure it worked. And, and this is the real kicker, the number of bees I saw Tuesday evening. Bees, I tell you!
3 - The number of times I used my ice scraper - after years of using a CD cover to scrape ice, I finally broke down and bought a scraper. Good purchase. Also the number of high temperature records set in Marshall since January.
4 - The number of times I shoveled.
And, 5 - The number of times I wore my big-boy winter boots.
If shocking numbers like these don't put Minnesota's winter of 2011-12 in perspective, nothing will.