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Jack Zaleski, Published November 02 2013

Zaleski: November, the anticipatory month

One of the things we track every day at our 9:15 a.m. news huddle is what stories most attracted readers on the Inforum Web page overnight and in the newspaper that day. The results sometimes are surprising, but most days we can predict the big stories. They usually have to do with crime, sex or weather. If we could combine those subjects into one story every day, we’d be the most popular publication in the nation.

Weather is always a winner, no matter the season. We are blessed (cursed?) with living in a part of the country where weather is news, often big news. If it’s not a slow-motion flood in spring, it’s the ever-present threat of thunder, lightning and hail in summer. If it’s not an early frost during harvest, it’s a blizzard warning in November. I sense we’ve entered the nervous pre-blizzard season.

November is an anticipatory month, a worry month. It can be benign, which in these climes means relatively pleasant. It also can be memorably fierce, which in these climes means stories to tell for generations about the killer blizzard that stranded hundreds of deer hunters on opening weekend of the gun season. It’s happened.

I have a theory – untested, of course. November has all the ingredients to make residents of the Northern Plains jumpy. But the peculiar aspect of the jumpiness (is there a psychologist in the house?) is that we love it. We embrace it. We wait for that first hint of snow in the forecast. We expect, even welcome, the threat of the season’s first winter storm that might evolve into a genuine blizzard – that is it meets the meteorological definition. We get kind of tingly about it.

It’s a tad nuts, but think it through. Even the remote chance that an early storm will morph into a rip-roaring snowy blast glues us to the television, radio or Internet. The anticipation is delicious fun as we batten down, worry about the possibility of blocked roads and wonder if the storm will be rough enough to shut down everything.

The feeling is not quite the same in December or January because winter has been underway a while. But November is different. No matter how long we’ve lived in the North, that first snowstorm is a “first” every year. Memories of last winter’s weather, however severe it might have been, fade when Ol’ Man Winter makes an early November appearance.

Nervous yet? Monitoring the forecasts? Not to worry. Weather next week looks as tame as November weather can be. But be assured, it is coming. It always does. I’m not sure about the psychology, but I for one get pumped when the first snowstorm is a sure thing. Be honest. You know what I’m talking about.

Contact Editorial Page Editor Jack Zaleski at (701) 241-5521.