By Morf Morford
Tacoma Daily Index
I have long believed that we humans should hibernate in January.
January of 2022 has, if nothing else, been a pointed reminder of the merits of that argument.
From weather to the economy to health issues, 2022 has, already, given us a month that is convincing evidence of a suggestion I have been promoting for several years now – humans, like many animals in the northern hemisphere, should hibernate for the month of January.
You can see my previous article on this subject here: www.tacomadailyindex.com/blog/should-we-hibernate/2448969/.
The weather outside is frightful
The first week of the month gave us in Western Washington the coldest weather – and the most snow we had seen in decades.
Besides covering everything in multiple inches of snow, all of the major mountain passes were closed for several days.
Snow accumulations and continual, if not increasing avalanche hazards made crossing the passes difficult if not impossible.
As the snow began to melt, rain set in, and much of the Puget Sound region, thanks to a “Pineapple express” – also known as an atmospheric river – set record high temperatures for January.
That combination led to the 20 mile closure of I-5.
The Puget Sound region got almost a month’s worth of rain in the first week of January.
As the snow and ice retreated from local streets, a bumper crop of potholes was revealed – many of which, by some conspiracy of heavy vehicle use and nature, were astoundingly wide and deep. These led to multiple flat tires and suspension problems for many of us.
And major puddles across streets and highways.
Saturated soils led to a record number of mud and landslides which closed highways, flooded or even dislocated homes and other buildings.
Thanks to the freeze and the following rainfall, my yard has turned into a giant saturated sponge.
The virus keeps adapting
On the pandemic front, the omicron variant proved itself as the most contagious strain of COVID yet.
Several Walmart stores shut down entirely because of the number of infections.
Our hospitals were filled and more than one tenth of our state senators began the 2022 legislative session with a positive COVID reading.
The CDC recommends that US citizens not go to Canada because of the increased rate of infection on their side of the border.
Whether it is the Beijing Olympics, shopping at your local grocery store or getting your kids to school, COVID was the wild card everywhere we went in January.
The stock market is/isn’t the economy
The stock market waffled and dropped on most days. Triple digit swings were a daily occurrence.
On the economic front, inflationary prices on everyday items hit their highest point in forty years.
Home prices from 2020-2021 in Tacoma’s North End grew by 26%.
It is/was a great time to sell – at least if you could figure out how – or where – to buy a home where prices did not increase by 26%.
Getting a schooling
Many local schools were closed for a variety of reasons – snow, ice, flooding, lack of teachers and staff, and even, in some schools, thanks to omicron, lack of students.
Every school seems to flip between in-person, face to face (masked) classes to online to hybrid to who knows what.
With shortages of substitutes and bus drivers among many other staff and teacher positions, schedules are in flux like never before.
Don’t have an emergency
Even our local 911 call center had staff shortages so severe that they had to consider shutting down.
Tacoma General Hospital set up facilities in the parking lot to care for overflow numbers.
The American Red Cross, for the first time in its 140 year history, declared its first national blood shortage.
Travel, what travel?
COVID sick outs and inclement weather (and a stray missile test from North Korea) shut down airports and cancelled flights here and around the country.
With mountain passes closed, increasing gas prices (and don’t even consider buying a new car these days) ever changing travel restrictions and mask/vaccine mandates/guidelines and unpredictable weather by the hour, it was a good season for Netflix.
All in all, it’s been a good month to stay home.
I suggest that we all join our fellow creatures, especially Ursus americanus (the American black bear) and take a long, long winter’s nap.
Perhaps when we wake up, we’ll realize that all of this was just a bad dream.