Let’s not hope for a repeat of Cold Snap 2019

Yes, if it happens, we get a day or even a week off school. But there are some costs to keep in mind.

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“Where were you in late January, 2019?”

Lancers have been reminiscing about the Great Polar Vortex of last year. You remember the one. The cold snap that descended on the continental United States like the White Walkers invading Westeros?

The Arctic blast of cold that was so bad, we were warned not to go outside any longer than necessary? Temperatures plummeting to forty below? The frigid temperature that sent grown men back inside sobbing? The air so cold it froze the hairs in your nostrils and made you put booties on your German Shepherd so he could do his business outside?

Oh man, it was sweet, wasn’t it?

Students, faculty, staff and even administration have been recalling those magical three days off of school with an almost wistful attitude, particularly after such a green holiday season with next to no snow. Netflix was binged. Calories were consumed. Some teachers came back drawing an utter blank after several days cut off from society.

“Does anyone know anything about…English?” teacher Gregg Long allegedly asked his classes the following Monday morning.

Yeah, it was a blast. A…polar blast, one might say.

(Sorry.)

Except like many extreme weather events, it was a lot less fun for a lot more people than you might think.

For one thing, people died.

Reuters News Service reported by January 31 that almost 30 people had perished across the nation, and dozens of cold-related cases in the hospitals. That might not sound like much, but remember this was due to extremely low temperatures, and no, they were not all because of carelessness or ignorance.

One man froze to death in his own garage. Other victims were the elderly and those caught out side for a variety of reasons.
Extreme weather means people will suffer, and some will die. Yes, it’s a bummer to consider that while huddled inside eating ice cream and catching up on Grey’s Anatomy, but that’s reality for you.

For another thing, the cold snap was expensive.

Recall that snow removal always has a price tag attached to it. In 2014, Illinois literally ran out of salt and had to resort to using kitty litter and other substitutes. But that’s a drop in the bucket, compared to the staggering $14 billion the 2019 cold snap cost America.

This price tag came in the form of hospital treatments, missed work, repairs of the damage and other various consequences, some forseen, some not.

Extreme weather is, after all, extreme, and to take Roselle and the surrounding area, it wasn’t anticipated way back when city planners were putting together the suburbs in the first place.

“My house wasn’t made for this kind of weather,” one teacher recalled, “and I was worried it was going to do damage to my home I couldn’t foresee. I was told the weather conditions outside would be like the moon, or like Mount Everest. What does that do to our siding? Our rooftops?”

In fact, houses did take a lot of damage during the cold snap. Most homeowners were able to make insurance claims, but not all of them, and as we all know, surprise weat her events have a way of putting a strain on the insurance companies’ coffers.
As winter continues to pass us by, we may be spared another extreme weather event. We may not. But extreme weather overall is almost certainly going to continue. Look at the fires in Australia. Look at flooding in the Midwest and Lake Michigan’s beaches’ erosion–the Chicago Tribune reports that they’ve all but disappeared in many places along the city shores.

Think storms, more flooding, and droughts. Recall that 27 counties in Illinois alone were declared federal disaster zones due to the flooding and ground conditions that prevented farmers from getting their crops in the ground. That means food shortages and further disaster spending. It’s not like this is all behind us when it warms up.

If it warms up. Remember last April? Snow? A snow storm even?

We don’t want to be all doom and gloom. If we’re stuck inside because of snow or cold, yes, enjoy the time off. Just know that there’s a price tag attached, and we all have to pay.