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Dave Roepke, Published January 18 2011

Nature's trade-off: Some willing to take cold in exchange for snow

Henry Ford famously offered car buyers any color they desired, so long as that color was black.

Forecasts recently have had a similar vibe: Whatever weather you want, so long as it’s snow.

In the 19 days from the crippling Dec. 30 blizzard through Monday, only two days – Jan. 4 and Jan. 9 – haven’t brought at least a trace of snow, said WDAY meteorologist Rob Kupec.

“We had sun Saturday, and it still snowed,” said Marv Tuchscherer, a 58-year-old Fargo resident who was raking snow from his mother’s roof on Monday.

“I was just thinking as I was shoveling, ‘Please, God, let it stop snowing,’ ” Danielle Poster, a Concordia College senior, said as she cleared her driveway the old-fashioned way.

There have been no major storms in January, just an always-on conveyor belt producing dustings of snow instead of Model T’s.

That unusual pattern has made overcast days the norm. While a clear day in January guarantees severe cold, at least it brings some sunshine, Kupec said.

“The sky is white, and the ground is white. It’s kind of miserable-looking out there,” Kupec said. “A sunny day does wonders for people.”

After two solid months of pushing snow around – it’s the third time this year his mother’s roof has needed a raking – Tuchscherer said he’s willing to trade in the snow for the cold.

“It’s like crystallized concrete,” he said of the snowpack, which is just 3 inches shorter than it was at this point in the record-setting winter of 1996-1997.

And like Poster, Tuchscherer is willing to ask a higher power for a reprieve.

“We’re in praying mode,” Tuchscherer said. “Let the sun shine.”

For those who shudder at the thought of the season’s most bitter temperatures, it may have been a prayer best left unanswered.

The forecast for the week is calling for the coldest stretch of the year, with thermometers poised to dip to -20 or lower at night. If the clouds lift and the wind is still, it could potentially drop to 30 below, Kupec said.

All that cold should give snowblowers a break.

“It looks like maybe this week we break free,” Kupec said of the snowing.

Yet it’s a lose-lose situation for Poster, who is tired of shoveling but no fan of walking to campus several blocks away when winter is at its frigid worst. There are two months to go, and she’s already had enough.

“I hate the cold and the wind and the negative,” she said. “I’m ready for winter to be done.”

While it’s too early for a full-blown departure, one of winter’s best moments – and only antidotes – could be coming next week.

Kupec said the cold snap should end this weekend, and long-range forecasts suggest a moderating trend that could bring highs in the 20s and 30s next week.

Those glorious days that make 30 degrees feel downright Caribbean seem like anomalies, but they come every year. Even 1996-1997, the gold standard of winter misery, had a few days in the 40s, Kupec said.

“It makes getting through the winter a lot easier,” he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535