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COLUMN: It’s going to be a cold and fun winter

Chris Shaffer is WCCO’s chief meteorologist – I hope you had a wonderful holiday season. It is amazing that last Christmas officially goes down as a “brown Christmas” because we only had a trace of snow on the ground.

The loose definition calls for at least one inch of snow on the ground Christmas morning to qualify as a white one. However, before and after Christmas, we racked up some impressive snow totals.

We had 21.5” for the month, which goes down as the ninth snowiest December on record. It is the most snow we’ve had in December since 2010.

You’ll remember that month because it included the snowstorm that tore the roof of the old Metrodome.

Now we are crawling through our coldest month of the year. Folks are taking down Christmas decorations (I even pulled down the outdoor ones on Monday when we warmed to 26 degrees).

It is hard to believe that last January we didn’t slip below zero…not even at night. That will not be the case this January. Expect frequent trips below zero followed by warming trends and possible snow.

I don’t see any massive snowstorms in our immediate future. Nor do I see any heatwaves or polar vortex outbreaks.

That is good news because we have several fun activities coming up this month. I love when my friends who live in other (warmer) parts of the country ask if we never leave the house in winter.

They can’t imagine even stepping foot outside when the temperatures are below zero. I have to remind them that many love the snow and cold, as well as all of the winter activities.

Next weekend you may be one of the first people to navigate the Ice Palace Maze at the Zephyr Theatre.

The stacked blocks of ice look like the mazes you see in the old mythological movies. Good news…there will not be a cyclops, minotaur or centaur awaiting your every turn.

However, the will be more ice.

There is also an ice slide for all to enjoy. That is so Minnesotan. I love it.

You can also have frozen outdoor fun at the end of the month. Hot air balloons will be lined up on the Jan. 28 and Jan. 29 doing a moonglow. This is where the balloon sits in place; they blast the burners and light up the night.

There will also be ice sculptures, music and food for all.

Also on Jan. 29, you can attend the ice cream social downtown Stillwater.

Leo’s Malt Shop will provide ice cream, and Lift Bridge Brewery will provide root beer for folks like me who want to take it to the next level and enjoy a root beer float. This is the photo I need to send to my friends living in warmer climates.

Me…drinking a root beer float while navigating an ice maze. I could really freak them out and do it in shorts and T-shirt.

Take that Old Man Winter! Remember to stay warm during our cold snaps.

And don’t break any toes kicking those frozen snow boogers off the bottom of your car. I love kicking that crud free.

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