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Eric Hansen
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PostWed Jan 30, 2019 7:52 pm 
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https://awealthofnature.org/winter-is-lake-michigans-showiest-and-finest-hour/

Wanted to offer this as a sense of place for my home base, west shore of Lake Michigan. Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

This essay has had several reprints. The version presented here benefits from the outstanding photographs of Tim Hoelte.

It's Polar Vortex time here. Currently -14 at 10pm CST, a mile inland from the lake. -10 for a high today, low last night and again tonight of -20. Madison, Wisconsin, a hundred miles west of here and far from the moderating influence of the big lake and its open water will be -29 tonight. Tomorrow afternoon temperatures finally moderate, slowly nearing zero degrees.
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treeswarper
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PostThu Jan 31, 2019 6:46 am 
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I lived Up Nort, on Chequamegon Bay.  I enjoyed the couple of winters that I experienced.  I only lived there two years.  The humid part of summer was horrible, the ticks were horrible, but living on Lake Superior was good.   Winter was great.  There was the Valhalla cross country area with a "chalet" that nobody had vandalized and you could have a fire going for warming up after skiing.  We would go up and ski at night by headlight and moonlight.  Then there was the Book Across The Bay.  I could walk home after doing that. It's a well attended (in the thousands) ski from Ashland to Washburn--about 6 miles on the frozen lake.  There's always a pressure crack to deal with.  The race/ski is done at night. 

There were no ticks to worry about in the winter and the tourists had pretty much cleared out. 

I don't like the term Polar Vortex.    To me, it is a dramatic term, made up to sensationalize a normal cold snap.  I do not recall anyone making a big deal out of the -27 weather in Wisconsin while I lived there.  The guy in town who rode his motorcycle every day of the year did have to park it indoors so it would start or, when we went to a bar one time during the cold snap, he left it running outside so he could ride home.  He was from the UP. 

I have no pictures--wish I did but it was before digital was affordable for me.  I ended up coming back home to live, but wish Wisconsin was closer so I could visit again.

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What's especially fun about sock puppets is that you can make each one unique and individual, so that they each have special characters. And they don't have to be human––animals and aliens are great possibilities
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RichP
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PostThu Jan 31, 2019 7:11 am 
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Surfer Dan never let a little cold get in the way of having fun.


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Without obsession, life is nothing. John Waters
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treeswarper
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PostThu Jan 31, 2019 8:49 am 
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Book Across The Bay pics.  The event helps fund libraries in Ashland and Washburn.  One theory of how to do it is that you wait for everybody to get going and then the crowd will make the ice tilt and it'll be all downhill.  Right now they are making the ice luminaries which will line the entire course.  For two small towns, it is pretty impressive.

https://batb.org/gallery?jfb1=1#jfbalbum-1

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Jake Neiffer
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PostThu Jan 31, 2019 10:16 am 
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2nd coldest day in Chicago's history:
https://wgntv.com/2019/01/30/its-officially-the-second-coldest-day-in-chicago-weather-history/

Reportedly the overnight low was -53 in Cotton, MN
https://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/discussions/hpcdiscussions.php?disc=nathilo&version=0&fmt=reg
Actually says it was -56 here:  https://bringmethenews.com/minnesota-weather/minnesota-town-gives-states-all-time-cold-temperature-record-a-run-for-its-money
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Joey
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PostThu Jan 31, 2019 12:01 pm 
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treeswarper wrote:
Right now they are making the ice luminaries which will line the entire course.

Cool idea - in more ways than one.
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monorail
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PostThu Jan 31, 2019 3:02 pm 
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Really nice essay, Eric! I was curious about the snowy owls; have their visits become more common in recent years?

Way back in the early 1990s, I was walking through Grant Park in downtown Chicago at night. There had been a blizzard a day earlier, but now it was starting to thaw a bit. Rats were scurrying around everywhere, no doubt hungry after the storm. To me, rats are by far the most terrifying creature on the planet, and I was deeply regretting venturing into the park at night...  but then out of the corner of my eye I saw something huge gliding overhead: a snowy owl. It very casually swooped down on a rat, maybe 30 feet from me, and then carried it off into the night. All the other rats were freaking out, like "hey, did you see what just happened to Bob?!"

The thing is, at the time I had never heard of snowy owls in that area, let alone the heart of the city. I even looked in a bird guide, which put their range much farther north. I wondered if what I had seen was real, or perhaps some kind of apocalyptic vision (it definitely had that feel; snowy owls would make excellent harbingers), or maybe just a rat-terror-induced hallucination. Since then I've heard other reports of snowy owls in Chicago, but I wonder if it's become more common.

The shore ice on Lake Michigan is really spectacular---  those huge slabs, hurled by the storm waves into jagged heaps. Makes me wonder why anyone complains about winter.
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Eric Hansen
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PostThu Jan 31, 2019 7:32 pm 
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Monorail, totally credible to have a Snowy in Grant Park (near the shoreline, a natural travel route for them), and yes they are ghostly in half light. The Snowys tend towards open spaces, airports, piers and harbors (a healthy rat supply motivates them).

Here in Milwaukee we have them most winters, and they are not that hard to find (they feed in daylight). Every once in a while there is an "eruption" and they come in big numbers. Last winter they came in big numbers and there were reports of Snowys in Fort Worth, Texas, parts of Kansas.

You can find a lot of background on line. I took a quick peek just now and noticed this
one minute vid of a Snowy bobbing on an ice chunk. Love watching his head pivot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGu_EZ2fMEc

Edit: 10pm Thursday, and it is minus 4 degrees. Tomorrow it's supposed to be +18 in the afternoon, and this town will be ready to party tomorrow night. +18 for a low tomorrow night, then highs in the 30's and 40's through the weekend into Monday.
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