Surviving Chiberia

RB takes two days off during the Arctic Vortex.

Frigid temperatures, frostbite concerns, and dangerous driving kept RB closed January 6 and 7.

Hannah Pecis

Frigid temperatures, frostbite concerns, and dangerous driving kept RB closed January 6 and 7.

Robby Filec, Features Editor

Some called it the Arctic Vortex. Some call it Chiberia. For Riverside Brookfield students and staff, it was called two snow days, which will be made up on President’s Day and Pulaski Day.  January 6 and 7, the temperature plunged to -13 and -2 degrees respectively, with wind chills down to -40.  The Chicagoland area had not seen cold like this since the 1990’s.

The past few years have been balmy compared to the vortex.  “The last time I’ve seen it this cold was in the 90’s when I was a student at U of I.  They even closed campus for a day,” said English teacher Tom Dignan.

Most RB students have not ever seen a cold like this before.  Even during the two-foot blizzard of 2011, temperatures were not this cold.

“I have never see it that far below zero in my life,” Senior Rachel Bennett said.

It is important to be well prepared for weather that cold. “It’s important for me to wear warm gloves.  I’m not a fan of cold hands, and I prefer a North Face jacket,” Dignan said.

Good jackets and other articles of clothing are vital to staying warm when the temperature is below zero.

“Having a long sleeve shirt underneath my coat, (which is North Face,) helps keep me warm, because my arms get cold,” Bennett said.

Then of course there is preparing for being trapped in the house. “I stocked up the day before with enough milk, water and food,” Dignan said.

For Bennett, being trapped in the house was not the problem. “My family and I were coming back from Colorado and were stuck in a train for two days in Galesburg, Illinois. It was pretty bad. I’ve been stuck once for six hours on a train because we hit a cow, but this was worse. They started handing out beef stew and oatmeal rations which were not that good. I also didn’t get to enjoy the days off like everyone else did,” Bennett said.

Still, as a plus, cold days bring tasty beverages and days off.  In most local areas, it did not snow during the cold snap, so there was time to sit inside and kick back.

“Coffee is the best drink to stay warm in the cold,” Dignan said. “I spent the day with my wife and kids just hanging out.”

Stuck on a train, Bennett did not have this luxury.  “I like Lemon Zinger Celestial tea to help me stay warm, and it tastes awesome,” she said.

Both staff and students were glad that school administration decided to call of school for the two days.

“It would have been difficult coming to school. It would have been more difficult making sure my car started and my kids got to school. It doesn’t scare me to drive in this weather.  Nothing really scares me but heights,” Dignan said.

Transportation to school was a big issue, as walking could have proven deadly or resulted in frostbite. “Driving in this weather scares me,” Bennet said.

Will we see the return of Chiberia? Will we have days off in years to come due to negative temperatures? No one is certain. The important thing to do in weather like that is be prepared and keep your spirits up!