The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

February 4, 2014

Cabin fever sets in amid relentless cold, snow

ST. LOUIS (AP) — T.J. Rutherford loves to golf, even in the winter. Just not this winter.

With single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills becoming the norm from the Midwest to the East Coast, often combined with snow or ice, the 59-year-old and his Illinois golfing buddies are no longer just bundling up. They're staying inside.

"I'm on my third 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle," said Rutherford, who lives in Carterville, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis. "I haven't done that in a long time."

Cabin fever is setting in for countless Americans as bitter cold, heavy snowfall and paralyzing ice storms keep pounding a large swath of the country. School districts across two-thirds of the U.S. are reporting higher than normal numbers of snow days, while social service agencies are trying to work around the forecasts to get to people in need.

Heavy snow was falling — again — in New York on Monday, and up to 8 inches of snow was expected Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo. Later this week, snow was forecast from the Plains to the East Coast, with no break in the cold.

Some records have been broken — Detroit, for example, recorded 39.1 inches of snow in January, a record for the month — but the weather isn't especially unusual, said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather. He said this winter seems worse because so many recent winters have been mild.

"A lot of people probably are going a little stir crazy," he said. "But if you look at the broad picture, this is probably a once in 10- to 20-year winter. We were probably due for it a little bit."

That isn't welcome news for those holed up at home, especially parents whose children keep racking up snow days.

In Indiana, where some schools were closed for a full week in January because of the weather and road conditions, Joanne Kehoe has to entertain her four children, ages 2 through 8, when classes get cancelled in Indianapolis. She said it can be especially trying because her oldest is autistic and has a "tendency to bolt" if he is off his routine, so that limits where the family can go.

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