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Viewpoint

Reflections on snow 

I have seen snow less than 10 times. Nine times to be exact. My first time was years ago while snowboarding at Big Bear Mountain in California. The other eight times were at Notre Dame. 

Snow is still a novel idea to me. I vaguely remember what snow is like from the trip to California, but I was too young for it to make a lasting impression on me. I surmise overcoming the difficulty of the bunny slopes was more memorable than that which I was sliding upon. Consequently, snow and, by extension, harsh Midwestern weather existed as somewhat of a myth. “The Legend of Snow” was invariably the first topic of discussion when I would speak to somebody about my going to Notre Dame. I found that snow manifests in three distinct modes of conversation. 

First, the rhetorical question. “Jonah, are you ready for the weather?” I respond, “Wait, I did not know it snowed in Indiana! I cannot believe I forgot to sign the snow disclaimer on the personal information section of Common App.” Of course, I am not ready for the snow; I have no experience with it. How can I be ready for that for which I cannot practice? If the questioner meant to ask whether I prepared winter clothing to combat the weather or not, I would respond yes. But he or she did not. 

Second, the imperative. “Jonah, be sure to layer! Layering is key!” This is simply unnecessary advice, something of common sense that can be personally deduced. Take this rationale for instance. If one removes layers of clothes when one is in a hot environment, I wonder what one would do if he or she is in a cold environment? Remove layers of clothes, right! See how ridiculous the advice sounds now? I am slightly offended when someone tells me this because it insinuates that I would have deliberately chosen to wear a single quarter zip and obstinately deny a parka in 24-degree weather if I had not heard this wisdom. 

Third, the anecdote. Often when speaking with anyone who lived in the cold before, I would hear their personal horror stories of enduring the harsh weather. The dubious walks on icy sidewalks. The frozen appendages. The arduous trudges through mounds of snow. The blizzards. The abominable snowman. When I hear these tall tales of snow, I cannot help but be reminded of the joke about how difficult it was for our parents to get to school. That joke is a slight critique of a youthful, “softer” generation who do not know the struggles of growing up in an older, “grittier” one. Moreover, personal anecdotes of the cold appear more as an inane competition of who endured a harsher circumstance than advice. Who won more fights against the abominable snowman? Who trekked a farther distance amid a blizzard? That sort of head-butting. 

And so, when it first started snowing here about a week ago, my accumulated knowledge of snow was put to the test. For the first time, I had to make a genuine effort to layer jackets that I might endure the coldest weather I ever experienced. I can confirm that I was not ready for the ND cold. I can also confirm that layering is important to prevent a sweaty meltdown in DeBartolo Hall, an oven. As I mentioned before, snow is still a novel idea for me. I am no Midwestern expert. I am still adjusting, still accumulating actual knowledge of snow. But like all novel ideas, they get old. The winter wonderland of November weather will simply not be the same as the artic wasteland of January. Before I know it, the snow will no longer generate excitement or awe but rather annoyance and perhaps dread. However, this trend is nothing new to me.

I went through the novel phase of college where everything was sunshine and rainbows, a constant state of Domer Fest. Making new friends, learning new academic material and engaging in new extracurricular activities seemed like a source of hilarity and satisfaction. However, the wonderland of starting college will not be the same as the wasteland of completing it. In the short span that I have been here, I was confronted with the sobering reality that the metaphorical snow becomes harsher. Some friends that I kept months ago want nothing to do with me due to a variety of head-aching dramas. Another round of midterms has passed leaving me desperate for a mental and physical break. The activities that I attempted to engage in have turn out to be wrought with failures and shortcomings. Perhaps, I should have internalized more thoroughly the rhetorical questions, imperatives and personal anecdotes of people giving me pre-college advice, which always came after the snow talk. 

My main takeaway is that the human experience like weather is transitory. As time progresses, I confirm that my pre-calculus teacher’s advice that “life is like a sin wave” holds true. In the same way all you might see is lush landscapes amid temperate temperatures, so too will you experience moments of flourishing friendships. Inevitably following these are the moments of bleakness in the climate and one’s personal life. One’s consolation ought to be in that winter will come, and winter will go. This specific reflection is an incredibly empowering mentality, one that is relevant to college students especially the ones living in the cold. It has been profoundly meaningful to me as I rationalize my experiences thus far. It offers hope for future favorable conditions to those despairing their failures. Winter is not permanent.Therefore, to my fellow Domers, I do not know how long winter will last or its potential degree of severity. In the meantime, hold fast to your winter coats, whatever it takes. Just know that the weather will become better. It must.

Jonah Tran is a first-year at Notre Dame double majoring in finance and economics and minoring in Classics. Although fully embracing the notorious title of a “Menbroza,” he prides himself on being an Educated Young Southern Gentleman. You can contact Jonah by email at jtran5@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Categories
News

Winter storm warning hits campus ahead of last home football game

It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, and it’s already looking like a winter wonderland in South Bend, Indiana. 

The tri-campus and the greater St. Joseph County experienced continuous snowfall Wednesday, as the National Weather Service (NWS) declared a winter storm advisory beginning at 3 p.m. The warning will expire around 10 a.m. Thursday morning. 

Between two to six inches of snow could fall overnight, said Jim Andersen, lead forecaster at NWS Northern Indiana.

“It is a wet, heavy type of snow, so you might not be able to notice,” Andersen said. “But, it can create a sloppy mess.” 

Senior director of emergency management Tracy Skibins said although Notre Dame doesn’t close campus very often as a result of inclement weather, the University would do so through both the police department’s social channel and ND Alert systems (text messages and emails).

Another system is expected to move into the region from Thursday until Friday, with another two to six inches of snow possible. As of Wednesday evening, NWS forecasts a 30% chance of snow showers Saturday during Notre Dame football’s home game against Boston College, set to start at 2:30 p.m. 

Over the past couple of days, the Notre Dame Stadium crew has continuously shoveled snow in the Stadium to keep the field and stands clear, Skibins said. But there could still be a danger posed at the game, meaning fans should be extra cautious.

“Even if you shovel all the snow, you’ll still have a chance of slippery surfaces that can cause falls,” Skibins said.

As of Wednesday evening, Skibins said she doesn’t anticipate any restrictions to tailgating lots — also being constantly shoveled leading up to the game — as a result of the snow. Her advice on being careful applies to before and after the game, she said.

Temperatures should remain below freezing with forecasted highs in the upper 20s on Friday and Saturday. Normal highs this time of year are in the upper 40s, Andersen said.

In addition, Notre Dame regularly works with DTN and its weather intelligence services for large-scale events on campus. On Saturday, there will be several on-site meteorologists to monitor the weather, Skibins said.

With lots of fans en route and anticipation building for the final home game of the season, Andersen suggests bundling up.

“It definitely has a chance of being slippery walking around and could be breezy, making it feel colder,” Andersen said. “People are definitely going to want hats, gloves and the like to stay warm if they’re outside a long time Saturday.”

Skibins added that people driving to campus should bring extra blankets, batteries and snow shovels. To stay safe, she also recommends avoiding caffeinated and alcoholic beverages, which can cause body heat to lower rapidly, and prolonged exposure outside.

“Definitely plan the day out if you’re tailgating, so you aren’t outside for too long at a time,” Skibins said.

Safety messages specific to football home games are also communicated on the University’s game day Instagram.

Contact Alysa Guffey at aguffey@nd.edu.

Categories
Viewpoint

A briefly snowy Saturday

It’s snowing today. Snowing!

You can read that line as an ecstatic exclamation or a disappointed one, depending on your feelings about the wonderful phenomenon of drifting crystallized water.

I was talking with my roommate in our kitchen when I noticed it. I’m pretty sure I cried, “It’s snowing!” with more enthusiasm than I thought I could muster today. I surprised myself with that reaction — not the delight I felt, but the energy I found to share it.

I haven’t had much energy lately. Senior year. Burnout. Professors are just as stressed as students. There’s more, too. Recent discoveries about my own mental health have been occupying my brain and affecting my ability to function. I’m shocked I remembered this column. 

Running on empty when it’s time to floor it.

That’s a lie, actually, I didn’t remember the column. I was making a grocery list to avoid thinking about the work I’m going to be behind on soon and checked my phone’s “Reminders” in case I had thought of something another day, and I saw the reminder to write the column.

Floor it. That sounds weird now, does it sound weird to you?

Every time I think about my obstacles, I feel self-conscious and remember that others are going through similar, if not worse situations. And yes, I’ve learned that those things don’t negate my own (same goes for you, my friend), but my brain still fires those messages anyway.

It’s still snowing. I walked outside this morning to feel the snow on my face and see my breath in the air and be mesmerized.

I don’t remember what I wanted the point of this column to be now — I had an excellent point about snow, then I thought about snow and forgot my excellent point. I’m not sure it was even excellent, but it might’ve resembled a point. 

Snow! Oh, I remember now. I remember feeling like the snow. Like a little ghost frozen in time, just drifting…subject to the whims of an indiscriminate wind. And I was spellbound by the snow, thinking about when it really snows,

everything 

goes 

quiet.

I know it takes certain circumstances for that quiet to come and settle down for a while, and we’ve still got the toughest month to go in the semester. And I’m realizing that unintentionally, this column is a reflection of my brain — just the foggy surface. That mental health discovery? ADHD. I’m almost 22. That’s an early discovery for women.

So, I guess to bring this column to a close, I want to shout out to all of you going through similar discoveries. It’s hard. And really inconvenient timing. 

If you’re feeling like the snow, you are not alone. Every single person’s experience is different and valid, and you are not alone. If you are looking for a quiet mind, you are not alone. I don’t know how the next few weeks will happen, but I’m thinking of you, and I’m drifting by your side. Weathering the wind.

You can contact Madeline at mlaw01@saintmarys.edu.

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.