zero acclimation and zero accumulation: a report of an Austin winter

Warning: I’m going to have to stand on my soapbox ice box for a hot second here and, unfortunately, talk about the weather; this post is less refreshing and more of a rebuttal.

I have lived in Nebraska, endured winters there and even visited colder climates during cold times. I’ve run in the cold or the wind or the rain, which proved to be not much a problem for me. I have backpacked in 20* temperatures and colder, and survived without complaint. However, the weather in Austin lately has been unbearable. I accredit this to the lack of my ability to acclimate. Colder climates, basically anywhere north of here, ease into winter months. During my eight plus years in Austin, as I wrote a little over a year ago, winter has not been a season but a cold front. The variance of temperatures, 85 last Friday to wind chills of 15 today, do not allow us Austinites to become accustomed to the low temps making every difference in degree detrimental.

Schools are shutting down because of a chance of icy roads. Since the two icy days we had in January resulted in over 500 wrecks, I feel the closures are valid. What I see on the internet about our circumstances are less valid. The “school’s closed because it’s cold” cry that I am seeing across the internet seems legit because, of course, we all hiked to school through four feet of snow – uphill – against the wind – both ways. Truth is, there is a difference in driving in snow and driving on ice. I don’t expect writing about the weather conditions will help people understand that we experience a different kind of cold down here. Nor do I expect anyone will look to us with great sympathy, but I do hope that northerners can at least see what we mean.

I know cold! I know that Austin could be colder. I also know that cold is more enjoyable with the element of snow and all things fun: sledding, snowball fights, snowmen and snow angels. I recognize my living in Austin means I do not get to experience that. That is a reason I do not live north, many have it worse but they choose to live in said climate. I know that some southern cities, like Atlanta, have been hit with harder winter moments than we have here. My point is simply that without accumulation of snow and the acclimation to the cold, things are far less bearable, enjoyable and manageable.

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