Dear Experienced Iowans,
My name is Matt Alvarez. I’m the new talk show producer for Iowa Public Radio. I’m also new to Iowa, if you haven’t heard by now. As a Texas native I’ve dealt with my share of extreme weather situations – countless droughts, flash foods, tornadoes, heatwaves, and, yes, a few days of winter. But Texans have a very different definition of "cold."
Texas winters, excluding the panhandle of Texas, are short. I grew up in El Paso, where the city sits at around 3,800 feet above sea level. We had a winter that is what I’m sure you would classify as your typical Iowa fall.
I saw snow as a child, but when we got snow in El Paso, it would fall over night, and then melt away by late afternoon with temperatures rapidly rising to a comfortable 45 degrees. Nothing stuck around and froze over. The snow never had a chance to turn grey.
When I moved to Austin for college and a new life, I remember sweating in early December while I walked to class because the temperature was somewhere near the mid-80s.
I had no need for a heavy jackets, long coats, thick gloves, snow boots, scarfs or thermal underwear. From late October through early May, Texas winter was nothing more than a break from the heat.
Ya'll, I cherished those brief two to three months of “winter.” I've been told things are going to be different here.
I’m writing this letter with the hopes of soliciting a little advice from you, loyal IPR fan. I need all the help I can get. I think I have good judgement when it comes to mobilizing and finding my way to work. But I tend to procrastinate, even in extreme weather conditions. You’re reading a letter from a guy who once stopped for breakfast tacos on the way to work in the middle of a tornado warning. Warning. Not watch. In my defense, there was no line for those tacos, and I was hungry.
Now that I'm here in Iowa, I have questions. How long should I let my car warm up? Do I need to? I’ve heard of Yaktrax, please explain. I fear ice and getting to work when there is ice on the ground. By the way, ice can be black? Do I need snow tires for my bike? What about my car? When will I adjust to the cold winter air?
Please write back. Any tips you have, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We might use your comments or advice on-air, but more than anything, I'm looking for your help here.
Sending warm thoughts,