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January 17, 2014

Unpredictable winter makes dressing a challenge

The Daily Star

---- — When you start your day, do you have any idea how to dress?

The other day it was so cold that schools closed because of a wind chill of about 28 degrees below zero. The next day or so kids were running around in shorts and T-shirts.

Those in charge of weather forecasts have spoken of chilling cold in one sentence and temperatures in the 60s in the next.

It’s so bad that when I was out cutting firewood the other day, I saw the same flock of geese fly up and down the valley, heading north and south four times. Yesterday, there was a wooly bear slowly making his way across my backyard. It’s true, even though it’s the middle of January. He was a strange one. He had more black and orange stripes around his body than a Bengal tiger.

The other morning it was only 8 degrees. The wind was blowing and there were a few minor snow squalls. But in true teenage fashion, my grandson stood out at the end of their driveway waiting for the school bus in a short-sleeved shirt. The next day it was 45 and he’s wearing a hooded sweatshirt and one of those crazy hats with ear flappers and a Mohican-like strip sticking up and running over the top. And I thought the geese were confused.

I followed a car the other day that had racks on the top. One side had two pairs of skis while a kayak sat in the saddle on the other. It’s tough to start your day not knowing which sport you’ll end up doing on your day off. But at least the guy was prepared.

So what’s the deal? Is this global warming? It’s been so cold and so warm this winter that records on both extremes have been broken.

The other day I was in Walmart. A woman was filling a rack along the main isle with swim suits of all things. That’s strange I thought as I walked around the store in long johns and a winter parka. But true to form, two days later the same store worker was filling the exact same rack with winter hats, gloves and scarves. I guess it’s just good marketing.

I went to Belleayre Mountain to ski last week. I checked the weather report. It was going to be a beautiful day - sunny with highs around 30 and a 2-3 mph wind.

On the mountain there were whiteout snow squalls and winds so hard they near blew you out of your chair lift. By the second run down the mountain I put on a full face covering and wished I’d worn my other parka.

Mark Twain said, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.”

He could just as easily been talking about upstate New York.

Rick Brockway writes an outdoors column for The Daily Star. Email him at