With temperatures in the mid 40s for most of the season, it seemed like winter forgot to visit Chicago us this year. Until yesterday, that is. For the better part of the day, temperatures were just above freezing, with constant and heavy cold rain dumping down on the city. Warnings of the impending winter storm came fast and furious—“4 to 9 inches expected;” “Wet, heavy ‘heart-attack snow’ expected;” “Snarled evening and morning commutes!” Exciting stuff.
I also learned my new favorite phrase to describe a winter storm. It was uttered by beloved Chicago meteorologist, Tom Skilling. He described the storm moving in as a “Saskatchewan Screamer.” I think we can all agree that that is a tremendously great name for a winter storm! Shortly after he uttered the phrase, the term began trending on Twitter. Skilling was charmingly pleased by this, writing:
Just told by Andrew Lennie, one of our web gurus, that our use of the term
‘Saskatchewan Screamer’ to describe this storm is ‘trending’ on Twitter. How
about that? The colloquial term has been used by forecasters for some time
to describe a low pressure [system] which dives into the Lower 48 out of
Canada’s Saskatchewan province. Such systems really move—or
‘scream along’—thus the term Saskatchewan Screamer!
Tom Skilling’s enthusiasm and the genuine joy he seems to get in watching weather systems form and move in is infectious. I was never much interested in weather until I started watching his broadcasts.
How did the storm pan out? Well, the morning commute was a mess, as predicted. The snow is the extremely heavy and dangerous-to-shovel “heart-attack snow.” But we only got a couple of inches (at least in Chicago proper, the northern suburbs got significantly more). It wasn’t quite the storm of the year I was hoping for, but we’re still not out of the winter woods yet!
Do you know any young meteorologists? If so, perhaps one of these books or series would be of interest to the li’l Skilling!