And a Happy Meteorological Spring to You!

This type of winter doesn't come without unusual effects. It's indeed, been one for the record books.

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With March comes the end of meteorological winter, and hopefully, the end of a very long and very unusual weather system. In the Midwest, we’ve grown weary of negative-degree days. (You know it’s bad when you glance at the thermometer and don’t flinch at -25 degrees). We’ve shoveled and scraped our way out of snowstorms, bundled up against bitter winds and prayed that our water lines and septic systems would endure the absurdly frigid polar vortexes that continue to harass the region.

The end of Winter 2013-2014 also means it’s time to pull out the record books and examine how we faired. Drumroll, please! In Rhinelander, Wis., close to the COLE Publishing offices, we’ve managed to live through the coldest winter on record, averaging just 4.7 degrees Fahrenheit for the season. Yep. We are the proud owners of a new meteorological low, second to Winter 1916-17. In Wisconsin, 14 cities noted the same record winter temperatures, and states across the Midwest tell similar stories. The Great Lakes are also nearing a record. As of this past Sunday, 90.5 percent of the Great Lakes were ice-covered. The current record is 95 percent ice coverage, set in 1979.

This type of winter doesn’t come without unusual effects. From all of you, we’ve heard stories of record numbers of frozen water mains, ice pillars in aeration tanks, water intakes freezing in the Great Lakes and more. And from some of our sister publications, we’ve heard about septic tanks frozen solid and portable restrooms rendered unusable due to, well, the frozen material inside. It’s indeed, been one for the record books.

As with all things, this bitter winter must come to end, which means a thaw is in our future (if we dare dream of such things). What will the extremely deep frost line mean for water utilities? What will the spring flood season bring? Along the Mississippi River, forecasters are on edge, assuming the mixture of increased snowfall and very deep frost lines will increase flooding. The season of water is literally upon us.

If you’ve experienced any unusual winter conditions at your plant, we’d love to hear about it. Take a minute and write a note or send a photo to me at Let us know what you learned from the experience, even if it was just that -25 degrees is really, really cold.

And happy spring. At least according to the meteorologists. Here’s hoping warmer weather is on its way.   


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