Condition White

This morning, I went to get coffee, and I was most definitely in what the uber-tactical world would call “condition white.” I was also just in condition white, quite literally. It’s been snowing all night and on into the morning here in Sioux Falls, SD. Even after almost a year here in South Dakota I’m not used to how to deal with the different weather, and that includes keeping myself alert when snow is blowing directly into my face.

Winter Storm Walda aftermath, April 2013
Winter Storm Walda aftermath, April 2013

I was contemplating this as I walked back from the coffee shop this morning. Sure, I had a hot chai in one hand that, via the Caleb Giddings tactical method, could likely give me enough time to get a weapon out, but I still was uncomfortable. I couldn’t see. With the wind rushing straight into my face I found myself either walking with my head down, staring at the ground a few feet in front of me, or blinking and twitching my head in an awkward fashion just so I could keep moving forward against the blustery wind without having snow flakes fly directly into my eyes. There was even an alley that I usually pay pretty close attention to that I couldn’t even see into until I was already walking past it. I was incredibly uncomfortable, and I couldn’t help but think that if I was a criminal, I would totally mug me right now. Hello blind, easy target.

I consider myself a somewhat pragmatic person. (I only give myself “somewhat,” I still wear stilettos.) But I’m also not the kind of person who’s going to don my ski goggles for a walk down to the coffee shop just so I can look for lurking bad guys. So how do I deal with not being able to see very well when South Dakota is South Dakotaing?

The best I have been able to come up with is that I need to keep my senses about me to the best of my ability when out and about, worrying about the cold and the snow isn’t going to change its existence, and being able to see what’s around me is essential to getting almost anywhere. I’m hoping that if I start here, start remembering that I need to pay attention to my surrounding regardless of what the blustering snowy wind is doing, then I can work forward. In the mean time, advice from cold weather folks on how to deal with paying attention to your surroundings when the weather is at its worst would be much appreciated.


  1. I wear prescription glasses which control the wind enough to be tolerable. So in that vein, a pair of aviator sunglasses (not so good today) or stylish safety glasses should help a lot.

    1. Yes, sunglasses are the answer. One thing people who haven’t lived up north don’t realize is how blindingly bright the snow can get once it stops falling.

  2. Plus, the weather and what it does to you is just another distraction. If you recognize it as a distraction, then it can be dealt with just like all the other distractions you always overcome.

  3. While it’s true that crime can happen at any place or time, I’d have to say that if I was going to pick a situation to dial my Goblin-Detection Screen down to a lower setting, it’d be before lunch on a weekday in inclement weather.

    Sumdood’s not gonna wake up early to go stand out in that stuff if he can help it; that’d be too much like work.

  4. I’d go with sunglasses of the Oakley-facefitting-type and a scarf across the face to make breathing a little easier

  5. I always wear my sunglasses and they helped a bunch when I was going to school in the frozen state of Wisconsin.

  6. Glasses of some kind help avoid the “eyelashes freezing together” problem as well. But I think Tam has it right risk-analysis wise.

  7. It’ll grow on you. We’re dealing with the same thing down here in SW Wyoming today. Blowing snow, butt ass cold, and nary a street person to be seen. Also, it grows on you. All but the largest chunks of blowing snow simply melt on my eyeball nowadays. 😉

  8. Already said: sunglasses. That’s what I do. Although, take it up a notch. I have sunglasses, a few sets actually, that have a set of the standard smoke colored lens, a set of the clear lens,and a set of the orange or yellow lens. If the dark sunglasses doesn’t work for you (thinking of the song “I wear sunglasses at night”), change out the lens to either clear or yellow/orange. The yellow/orange lens also help vision acuity. The scarf idea is a good one too. Although, I don’t have a scarf. So I pull out a face mask or face gator from my motorcycle PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) box, which is where one set of the multi-lens glasses lives.

    The best pair of glasses I’ve seen for blowing sand/snow/wind/etc has been Wiley X glasses as they make a pair that has a removable foam insert around the inside of the frame to help protect the eyes from the elements…and they make various colored lenses too.

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