Winter weather: What’s the fuss?

February 8, 2014
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Jon Stevens / Observer-Reporter
Parker Kantos and Heidi Evans, Waynesburg University students from Wisconsin and Alaska, respectively, are wondering what the fuss is all about with this snow and cold. It’s winter, they said. Order a Print
Image description
Jon Stevens / Observer-Reporter
Parker Kantos and Heidi Evans come from states where winter is just that, winter. Here, the two Waynesburg University students enjoy some playful time in the snow, sans winter coats. Order a Print

WAYNESBURG – Much of the Northeast remains gripped in winter’s vice, and if you believe the prognostication of a Punxsutawney rodent, there are at least five more weeks of this weather.

When the temperatures plunge and snow is predicted, schools in this little corner of the world close or initiate two-hour delays. Municipalities are running out of salt and anxiously await more deliveries. Most television stations lead the local news with the weather, warning us of peril and pending doom.

And what are most residents doing? Complaining, of course.

Well, not everyone. Heidi Evans and Parker Kantos are students at Waynesburg University and come from states where winter is winter, and they offer some perspective to those whose tolerance of snow, cold, wind and ice is wearing thin.

Evans is an 18-year-old freshman from Anchorage, Alaska, and Kantos is a 19-year-old sophomore from Waupaca, Wis. Ask a group of people to name five states known for brutal winters, and Alaska and Wisconsin are likely to be in the top five.

Granted, this year’s winter has been somewhat of an anomaly, although this area has seen its share of significant snowfalls and below freezing temperatures before. Perhaps we are just not used to it, unlike Evans and Kantos.

“Yes, this is an unusual winter, from what I have been told,” Evans said. “But this weather is what I grew up with in Anchorage.”

When winter hits, when it drops below zero, “We are used to it,” Evans aid.

“We go to school; we come back from school; we stand at bus stops at minus 25 degrees. Sometime buses are late but school still starts at the same time,” she said.

Evans said when her city receives a lot of snow, the plows are out right away and people just learn to drive in it.

“We just deal with it and Anchorage uses gravel, not salt,” she said.

Evans made the choice to attend Waynesburg because she is not a big-town person.

“I also wanted a faith-based education and Waynesburg offered that and a good nursing program, and I am still not far from some of my family and friends who live in Ohio,” she said.

“‘Oh, yes, the weather. The lower 48 doesn’t get what we get in Alaska. I think the northern states are just used to this, and I think it’s kind of funny when I hear my roommate complain about the winter.”

But the weather certainly can be strange. As a polar vortex descended on the region recently, plummeting temperatures well into the negative digits, Anchorage’s temperature was a balmy 40 degrees.

“My mother was complaining that all the snow was melting and making the roads very icy. Everyone prefers snow over ice. Sometimes school was canceled for ice day, not snow days,” Evans said.

“The weather in Waupaca is very similar to what Heidi was describing,” Kantos said. “We hardly ever had school canceled. I think school was called off just once during my whole time in high school.”

Kantos said it is not as cold as that to which he is accustomed.

“I seldom wear a winter coat, usually sweaters,” he said. “Growing up in an entirely different climate, you just get used to it.”

A different climate, indeed. Temperatures the last five days in Waupaca, combining the wind chill, averaged 10 degrees below zero.

Kantos, a political science major and a Stover Scholar, said snow and below freezing temperatures begin to appear in Waupaca around mid-November. In Anchorage, Evans said, Halloweeners are usually bundled up in snow suits.

So, what advice do these snowbirds have when the Iceman Cometh?

“Bundle up and don’t think about the fact you are getting one bad winter,” Evans said. “Everybody always has bad winters.”

Kantos said, “Remember, spring is on the way.”

Jon Stevens was the Observer-Reporter’s Greene County bureau chief. During his 41 years with the O-R, he covered county government, courts and politics, and won statewide and regional writing awards.

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