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Nathan's column: The right storm for a crazy winter

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Way back in November, at the beginning of what has become a balmy, befuddling season, I wrote in this space about the inevitability of snow and ice in a Minnesota winter. You'd do as well complaining about a Super Bowl commercial being terrible or an Academy Awards montage seeming excessive as complain about a cold Minnesota winter.

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Any good Minnesota resident should know that once Thanksgiving has come and gone you might as well just sit back, make sure you've got enough hot chocolate and know that eventually you'll come through on the other side.

And then, well, you know.

I long ago gave up trying to figure out this winter. I have ridden my bike on multiple occasions without fear of skidding out on a patch of ice. I went jacketless in January. I'm pretty sure I saw a lot of groundhogs angrily shaking their alarm clocks earlier this month, convinced they had overslept.

I get the feeling everybody else has thrown in the towel, too. Even meteorologists, who get paid to make sense of this stuff, don't seem to know what to make of the weather the last few months.

Consider this week's forecasts. As I write this Monday night we are still a few hours out from the winter's first batten-the-hatches blizzard. Count on it, the weatherfolk were saying. There will be so much snow life in Minnesota will grind to a halt.

Or maybe it will be a rainstorm.

Or it could be sunny.

At one point Monday morning I heard a forecast that predicted the Twin Cities would get between two and 17 inches of snow, which is a little bit like a doctor saying he's pretty sure your pain is being caused by either a sprained ankle or a pit bull gnawing on your femur.

I realize there are a lot of variables that go into making sense of weather patterns, but at this point meteorologists might as well predict that it will literally rain men. Or cats and dogs.

I hope neither of those actually happens, because that's a mess I really don't want to shovel.

Disco songs and folksy aphorisms related to meteorology are equally impractical, it seems.

All of this will be outdated by the time anyone reads this column, of course. By the time this edition hits stores there might be people inside waiting to burn them for warmth, so desperate are they after being stranded by the 45 feet of snow and/or house pets that has just fallen from the sky. By the time it reaches mailboxes Thursday, all that snow might have melted and people might be frolicking with the strange men they cleared from their gutters.

(Update: As of Wednesday morning, it appears that in place of the megablizzard originally predicted we're getting what you might call a cruddy-weather parfait. It starts with a layer of snow, then rain, then slush, then more snow and more slush. Then, if we're lucky, hot fudge and peanuts. That would be about right for this unusual winter.)

I can't claim to make sense of any of it. But then, neither can anyone else.

It's been that kind of winter.

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