Now that it's March, let's talk about ... more winter?!?
How bad was this winter?
So bad the car is pickled from the road salt brine. So bad the snowblower called in sick. So bad the dog is using the cat's litter box (no, not really).
And the pain continues, even though March has arrived. If nature was cooperating it should be in the 40s, but snow is possible Sunday, the high is 11 degrees Monday, and the weekend low will be around 0 degrees.
"I think everybody is ready for this winter to end," ComEd spokesman John Schoen said.
Here's a look at the winter of our discontent.
Based on data from O'Hare International Airport, 41.3 inches of snow socked the region from Nov. 1 through Thursday. That's a lot -- compared to the 2017-18 winter when 30.3 inches fell. But "we're not setting any records -- not for snow, not for cold," National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley said. "It just feels worse."
You'd have to travel back in time to when disco was hot but the weather was not to find the real eternal winter. Nearly 90 inches of snow descended on the region in winter of 1978-79, the weather service reported.
Lowest temperatures? The winner is minus 27 degrees on Jan. 20, 1985. Our worst this winter was Jan. 30 with minus 23 degrees, a record for that day, Seeley said.
Ice-caked roads, traffic lights made with LEDs covered with snow, and storms took their toll. Illinois State Police data showed an increase in the number of crashes this winter with 13,961 occurring between Nov. 20, 2018, and Monday. That's 126 more than the same time frame during the 2017-2018 winter when 13,835 collisions happened.
The first snow day was a fabulous bonding time with sledding and hot chocolate. The fourth time school districts canceled school because of extreme weather, cabin fever set.
Elgin Area School District U-46 and Indian Prairie District 204 based in Aurora, two of the largest districts in the state, reported four snow days apiece this school year compared to just one in 2017-2018. Two of those days occurred Jan. 30 and 31, when extreme cold kept kids inside.
"Fingers crossed that this beast of a winter will settle down into a lovely spring," U-46 spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.
Northwest Community Healthcare reports patient volumes rose by 10 percent at the emergency department this winter compared to the milder one in 2017-2018. Multiple patients slipped on the ice, injuring their heads and breaking bones, Emergency Department Medical Director Daniel Reaven reported.
After the polar vortex Jan. 30 and 31, numerous people showed up with frostbite injuries. And another group of patients suffered from injuries occurring from car crashes and fender-benders related to the snow and ice.
It was a miserable winter for ComEd customers and workers.
"During winter storms, we restored around 580,000 outages. That includes the post-Thanksgiving storm," Schoen said, referring to a Nov. 25 and 26 snowfall that closed schools.
But it wasn't just the snow. "It was the ice" that coated power lines and tree limbs," creating a one-two punch, Schoen said.
Wish we were dormant
The minus-23-degree temperatures and relentless storms might cause some dieback on branches and winter burn on evergreens, Morton Arboretum Plant Clinic Manager Julie Janoski said. "We also could see some salt damage because we've had so much snow."
On the bright side, many plants and trees are dormant and probably weren't harmed by the cold.
Since the most severe arctic temperatures lasted only two days, most of your plants "are going to be fine," she said.