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Even with a thaw, there’s a cold reality

2/20/2014 - West Side Leader
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By Craig Marks

On the Mark — By Craig Marks

The temperature for today, Feb. 20, is supposed to hit 50 degrees F. The big 5-0. The half-century mark. The number that’s often preceded by “nifty, nifty.”

What does one do when it’s 50 degrees? Pardon me for not recalling; it’s been so long. (My weather acumen is somewhere below that of Olaf, the snowman in the movie “Frozen.”) Shall we meet on the deck to sip piña coladas? Shall we fill the largest pothole on the street with water and turn it into a makeshift wading pool? What SPF number is appropriate?

On Feb. 15, www.weather.com was predicting 52 degrees and showers for Akron Feb. 20. Ignoring the “showers” part, I envisioned the glorious scene when the 50-degree barrier was finally broken: As one, we’d leave our homes and offices and join hands, much like the Whos down in Whoville at the end of the beloved Christmas special. We’d gather ’round a bank’s time-and-temperature sign and sing a hymn-like rendition of the old Buster Poindexter number “Hot Hot Hot.” Joining us would be those waiting in line at the car wash, a line that stretches several counties.

And all around us would be teenagers in shorts and flip-flops. This is not because of the warmer weather. They’re always wearing shorts and flip-flops, and I’m not sure why.

My sweet dream ended when I heard the warning from the National Weather Service. The increased temperatures will cause the snow to melt, and combined with the rain, there was a risk of floods. Be careful what you wish for, it seems, even if all you’re wishing for is a day when we could crack open the windows a bit to air out the house.

It’s been a challenging winter for many parts of the country. My in-laws in New York have never seen so much snow. The South is dealing with ice, the West Coast with drought. Our lot has been so many mornings with single-digit temperatures that we now greet them with shrugs.

We could all use a break, and my hope is that today, Feb. 20, will be ours. How nice would it be to see Christmas bicycles getting their first rides, to hear the sound of basketballs dribbled on driveways and to take off my stocking cap, which has been affixed to my scalp since late December.

Recent winters have been pretty bearable, particularly the winter of 2011-12, when our biggest problem was deciding which jacket to wear. But this winter is the kind many of us grew up with. I would say it’s relentless, but it does sometimes relent. But when it does, we worry about the lakes and streams overflowing.

Winter ends one month from now. Today is a day to keep one eye on the climbing thermometer and another on weather-related news stories. May the stories be pleasant, with many mentions of that rarely uttered s-word, “spring.”

That would be, in a word, nifty.

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