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                   Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 8:32PM

First heater usage - almost

By DAN ROBINSON
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25 Years of Storm Observing
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As I get older, it seems that there are really only two seasons that I notice - summer and winter. Somewhere in the middle of what most people call 'fall', there is the first cold front bringing cool, Canadian air down over the Appalachians. Prior to that, the beginning of fall and the end of summer tend to blend together, never seeming to announce themselves so blatantly. When this first cold air arrives, the impending winter makes itself known for the first time. When that day comes every year, the annual routine of switching to 'winter life' starts - the short-sleeves are replaced by long-sleeves, the jacket comes out, and most of all, the various HVAC devices are switched to heating mode. So, winter really 'starts' for me the instant I have to turn the heat on in either my car or my house. It's almost a ceremonial event, marking the moment that I officially let go of summer and mentally transition into 'winter life mode'.

I really thought today was going to be that day. Under a thick day-long canopy of unbroken gray, our highs struggled to reach the mid-50s, with a post-frontal upper-level low pressure rotating through West Virginia. The clear-air mode radar showed the light showers moving in, the precip echo patterns dead-ringers for snow showers if our temps were just 15 degrees colder. As what little light we had faded, I got the urge to go for a drive to immerse myself in the darkening mist. For some, this type of weather is dreary and depressing - for me though, it is one of many generally disliked weather phenomena I have come to appreciate. For what exact reason I don't know, only that there is a relaxing component to it that eludes explanation.

I had a craving for Tim Horton's toasted bagels, so the route I took was my favorite 'music & prayer drive' road between South Charleston and St. Albans: Lincoln Drive & Upper Falls Road to Ferrell Road. I had done some yardwork earlier in the afternoon, so I had already broken out the first long-sleeve shirt of the season after feeling the cold bite in the air. When I got in the car, my hands and feet were cold - and there was the familiar urge to hit the temperature control button to crank up the heat - ushering in the aforementioned 'official start of winter'. I almost did it, but it just wasn't cold enough. I was too comfortable. I watched the outside thermometer reading drop to 49F, but the inside didn't seem to respond.

The drive was relaxing as always - but I really expected to get to turn the heater on. I was slightly cold, but not uncomfortable enough to need the assistance of the heat button. I thought about stopping for a cold drink, but that would have been cheating.

The outside had the 'look' of being cold - but it just wasn't enough to make it official for me.

So in a nutshell, today wasn't the day. I see that our low temperatures will be falling later this week, dipping into the high 30s. That should be enough to get the furnace on at the house for a few hours at night. So, I won't have to wait too much longer.

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