Winter is supposed to be cold and snowy, right? So why did the winter of 2009-2010 seem so awful? If you live in parts of the South and Mid-Atlantic and feel like you were complaining about winter weather even more this year, don’t worry. When you look at some of the facts, I think you’ll feel you’ve earned the right to complain. I know I do.
It’s hard to imagine that just a year ago, states from Texas to Alabama to North Carolina were as dry as a bone. The Southern United States was in a drought. As a runner living in a drought-affected area, I never thought about needing a rain shell. The trails I ran in North Georgia were so dry, any light wind kicked up a mini dust storm.
But then Fall 2009 came, and it hasn’t stopped raining – or snowing – since. I feel like I’ve been trudging through mud and puddles for months. Then when winter hit, it got cold. Cold enough for all the rain to turn to ice and snow in the South. I not so secretly miss the drought.
I don’t want to complain too much. I know runners living in the Mid-Atlantic region had it even worse. Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. all got enough snow to make 2009-2010 their snowiest winters on record. While I was pushing through runs during 8 degree Fahrenheit (-13C) wind chills in Georgia, thousands of runners couldn’t even get out their front doors, let alone their driveways in the Mid-Atlantic.
You’re used to layering up for runs in the Dakotas, Colorado, and Nebraska, but that doesn’t mean you have any less right to complain about this winter. Parts of the Plains saw average temperatures 9 to 12 degrees F (-11 to -12 Celsius) below normal during February. In fact, Medora, which is in the North Dakota Badlands, saw an average temperature of about 11 degrees F (-11C). Typically Medora would at least get average temperatures in the 20s (-6C). I guess that’s one way to make the Badlands even worse.
If you live in a colder climate, you may not feel sympathy for Floridians. But some people would argue winter was even more unkind to the Sunshine State, which depends on mild winters to sustain its economy. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says winter was cold enough to push water temps in the Florida Keys below 59 degrees F, and that’s the point where it’s too cold for coral reefs to survive. A record number of manatees have died in Florida this year because of the cold, and it’s only March.
While winter buried Washington, D.C. in snow and put the freeze on Florida, runners in the Pacific Northwest were generally treated to drier, warmer winter days than they’re used to. The same rings true for Vancouver, BC, where the 2010 Winter Games lacked, well, winter. (I heard people joking D.C. should have made a bid.)
So don’t be too hard on yourself if you were grumbling through winter. You weren’t the only person wearing a double set of gloves or throwing on a third layer. You’re not a wimp!
You’re a trooper. And now comes your reward: spring.
For more cool weather facts that’ll wow your co-workers check out the NOAA.