Sometimes just the name of something can bring expectations that are hard to live up to.
By Pat Ratliff
Photo by Pat Ratliff/Dunn County Herald
The recent “Polar Vortex” last weekend seemed to be a great example. The name seems to be leading up to something spectacular, much like “Perfect Storm” or “Krakatoa” seems to.
But Polar Vortex didn’t quite live up to the expectations, at least here in western North Dakota, although it brought some very cold weather to the area.
What is a Polar Vortex?
NBC News’ Al Roker said to “Think of this as a polar hurricane.”
“A polar vortex is basically a great swirling pool of extremely cold air located tens of thousands of feet in the atmosphere,” said Frank Giannasca, senior meteorologist with The Weather Channel. “Basically an arctic cyclone, it ordinarily spins counterclockwise around the north and south poles.
“While it tends to dip over northeastern Canada, it’s catching everyone’s attention because it has moved southward over such a large population — as many as 140 million Americans are feeling the freeze.”
Here in Dunn County we had predictions of white-out blizzard conditions and very cold temperatures. The cold temperatures came, for example Manning had a temperature of -37 last Sunday night, with wind-chill reaching -58. But the blizzard conditions never made it, possibly owing to the rain we received Friday.
But there’s another factor that enters into the equation – readiness.
Local, state and national agencies all worked overtime getting the word out and preparing emergency crews and plans. When we’re prepared for events, things just don’t have as much chance to take a bad turn.
“We got super, super lucky, I think,” Sara Almer, with the Killdeer Area Ambulance said. “As far as I know, we had no calls concerning the severe weather.”
Killdeer Chief of Police Chris Fenstermaker said much the same.
“There were no extra problems, it may have even been slower,” Fenstermaker said. “Everyone stayed home.
“We had our normal calls, but no more than normal.
“We still had traffic to deal with, but we dealt with that as good as we could.”
Perhaps the most involved with getting the word out locally was Denise Brew, who sent out warnings to media earlier last week warning of the storm with safety suggestions.
“Problems? – No, to be honest, we had no calls, we were very lucky,” Brew said. “Everyone was prepared.
“I haven’t even heard of anyone’s pipes freezing up, although I’m sure there were some.”
And Brew doesn’t want to minimize the storm either.
“It was bad… it WAS cold,” she said. “But everyone was prepared.”
In her pre-storm warnings Brew was concerned about motorists becoming stranded and being outside unprepared, among other things, but she feels if that happens, there is a local advantage.
“We’re still “old school rural” around here,” she said. “People will stop, someone will help you.”
In the end, the Polar Vortex came and went. It was very cold, but didn’t have much more of an effect on most people.
Certainly no “Perfect Storm.” Certainly no “Krakatoa.”