The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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January 26, 2014

Cross column: Another polar vortex? Count your blessings!

By this time tomorrow, we’ll be back in the deep freeze.

A cold snap.

That’s what we used to call it when the bottom dropped out of the thermometer.

But when entire cable channels now are devoted to the weather, when snow storms now are adorned with names, well, that term apparently isn’t sexy enough anymore.

The catch words this winter are polar and vortex.

But a rose by any other name smells just as sweet.

And by what ever name you choose, it is going to be brutally cold out there once again.

I’m Minnesotan, born and raised. So’s my wife.

The reason we returned to Minnesota after a brief stint in comparatively balmy Kansas nearly 40 years ago was that we both missed Minnesota winters.

How much did we miss them?

We used the paltry amount of vacation we had accrued at our jobs in the Sunflower State to return to Minnesota to witness first hand the meteorological carnage left in the wake of the Super Bowl Blizzard of 1975.

For those too young to remember, it was one hell of a snowstorm. Snow began on Friday, January 10, and continued unabated for the next two days, including Super Bowl Sunday.

As much as 27 inches of snow fell in some parts of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, accompanied by sustained winds of 30-50 mph, gusts up to 90 mph and sub-zero temperatures.

In the blizzard’s wake, 58 people and tens of thousands of farm animals died. Wildlife populations suffered similar catastrophic losses. Snow drifts as high as 20 feet stranded motorists in their cars for days awaiting rescue in the wake of the storm that was characterized as an inland hurricane because of its record low barometric pressure.

We felt we had missed out on all of the excitement, so when the opportunity to return to live and work in Minnesota with its invigorating winter season presented itself, we didn’t hesitate.

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