December 23, 2021
For those of you in the northern climes this may not seem like a big deal, but when I came out to start my vehicle yesterday there was ice on the windshield. This was an almost daily experience during the winters of Kansas, but it is only the second or third time I can remember needing to scrape ice since we moved to Arkansas. Some of this might be since I get up later and even then, I tend to stay inside on frosty mornings rather than venture out. Today I had an early meeting, so I gathered my things and rushed out to the car. Although surprised by the ice I was not dismayed. Being from Kansas I keep an ice scraper in the car “just in case”, and cotton gloves in the pockets of my jacket to protect my hands from the cold. I turned on the defroster and the ice had nearly melted by the time I worked my way around the vehicle and back to the front windshield.
When I checked online, I found that while October brings the changing leaves and fall colors, it rarely brings more than one or two mornings of ice or frost. By November light frost begins to become common and the trees will drop their leaves. December signals the beginning of the winter chills, and a heavy ice frost becomes more common. This is the preferred month for cold weather Arkansans, as January and February temperatures often fall below the average minimum and occasionally drop into the 0F (-10C) range and snowfall may occur. Conditions are generally good during the day, but ice patches are common during early morning and late evening hours. That said, there has not been much “normal” frost since we moved here three and a half years ago.
The ice and frost are probably the worst thing Melissa found about living in Kansas. She had grown up in Arkansas and was not used to the colder weather. We were married in December, and I took her dad to see the Arkansas River that wound through our city. During the summer you could walk across without ever getting above your waist. During his visit the winter ice had frozen the river over and the frosty ice cacked the trees and bank. It was the only time he had seen the Arkansas River in either condition. This is part of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System, and the river is a tad bigger (deep and wide) in Fort Smith and never freezes.
Thoughts: When I attended school in the Bay Area (Berkeley), I had a friend who planned on returning to his home state of Minnesota after graduation. His girlfriend was from Southern California and not accustomed to either ice or snow. As they prepared the car to leave, she kept coming across these small plastic handles with acrylic triangles attached to them and finally asked him what they were. His response was, “That is an ice scraper, you will become intimately familiar with those this winter.” As I can attest, when the cold sets in it is good to have several scrapers of different sizes to remove the ice from your windshield. Despite the one day of ice on my windshield, temperatures have been near record highs for much of December and we are expecting mid 70’sF (24C) over Christmas weekend. We are going north where it will drop all the way to the low 60’sF (16.5C). So much for a white Christmas. Do the work. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.