The Case for Snowbirds

By Beacon Staff

In Montana, it’s not uncommon to hear disparaging remarks or jokes about snowbirds, people who flee the state in the winter for the warmer climates and snow-free driveways of states like Arizona. But, in light of this weekend’s storm, and all the sub-zero temps I’ve endured in my 23 years in this state, why exactly, does anyone make fun of these people?

I get the sense of abandonment. It doesn’t seem fair they’d get to enjoy the warmest months in this state, and avoid the frigid ones. But, despite the jealousy, I think most would have to admit that today, snowbirds seem darn smart.

My car’s thermometer emitted a cheerful sounding “ding” this morning when it reached zero – an annoying feature I didn’t even know my fairly new car had until this morning, and probably could have gone the life of the car without learning. The thermometer read 10 degrees below zero before I reached the end of my block.

This weekend’s “arctic front from the north” dumped as much as 10 inches of snow on areas throughout the valley. Sunday night’s low temperature in Kalispell was 12 degrees below zero, with wind chill pushing temps even lower. It’s even too cold for outdoor enthusiasts: Whitefish Mountain Resort closed five lifts yesterday.

A visitor to our office this morning claimed he likes this weather. “It’s winter kill weather,” he said. “It kills all the soft Southern boys that have moved here, and sends them back home.” He – just as many others have been before – was aghast to find out that I, a native Montanan, wasn’t thrilled at the weather.

Now, before someone yells the Montana mantra, “If you don’t like it, go somewhere else!” I’d like to make it clear I love this state and understand that part of living here is putting up with winter weeks where snot freezes inside your nose when you step outside. And, for the most part, I bundle up without much whining.

But, it’s kind of like one’s relationship with their significant other. You may love them, but they also have traits you love to hate.

In my love affair with Montana, those “he-leaves-the-toilet-seat-up” traits come in the form of the few-week spans during the winter and summer months of excessively hot or cold temps, when my more temperate loving self longs for less extreme weather patterns.

If my wimpiness offends tougher Montanans, that’s fine. I’ll let it go, and armed with a cup of hot tea and multiple layers, quietly look forward to this week’s “warming trend.” It should reach a high of 19 by Friday.