Thursday, December 18, 2008

Freezing (your e-mail)

Here are some of your stories, and thanks (as always) for sending them in.

First, from Jeff Koch, who may be a distant relative of Ernest Hemingway:
I see you'll be putting some stories up tomorrow. I've a good one. It was 19 below when I woke up this morning where I live. The end.

Then, from Glen Haag (who lives in Wisconsin):
I was entertained to hear a radio call-in show today where they debated 90 and humid, versus 0 with a 20 below wind chill.

20 below won by a vote.

David Reite weighs in from the Great White North:
Of course, I'm writing to you from the Southwestern Tip of Canada, known not for its snow, but for it's rather mild winter weather. According to Wikipedia:
"Victoria, BC has a temperate climate that is usually classified as Marine west coast(Cfb), with mild, damp winters and relatively dry and mild summers. It is sometimes classified as a Mediterranean climate (Csb

Typical daily temperatures this time of year are about 7c, or say, 45f. However, after receiving 6" of snow on Saturday (typically washed away the same night or the next day), the temperature tonite is -10c/14f, with a windchill of about -22c/-8f and appears to be remaining this way for at least the next five days. We may even get more snow on Wednesday again! If I didn't know better I'd think I was living on the prairies right now.

Jack sent me a link to weather trends for Billings, Montana. On Sunday and Monday, the HIGH was -8F.

Here's a classic story from Jarod:
Sunday we had to try and catch some of the dog's pee to take to the vet (Ah, pet ownership). We were about 100 feet from the house and got some in a dish (success after 24 hours of trying!) and hustled back inside. When we got to the door I noticed something...the urine in the dish had frozen. Solid. Earlier in the day the temp had been 37 was now 13 with a wind chill of -10. When I woke up Monday it was -6...wind chills in the -35 range. I am pretty sure my car said a bad word to me when it started. Our high that day was -2.

I know, I know...Minnesotan folks should be used to it...but even for us it was a good time to ask 'Why am I living here?!"

Finally, Garret Rempel sent along a very interesting question:
I have always wondered, and maybe you are able to answer this for me. Do extreme temperature values hold any significance to someone who has never experienced them? At what point do the numbers simply become abstract in a "wow, yeah that would be hot/cold" manner but without any ability to physically extrapolate what that temperature would feel like? For example, if someone says to me "The surface of mars is -325F" I would accept that as being very, very cold, but have no frame of reference to be able to say how cold -325F would actually feel.

Now, having lived most of my life in a climate that ranges yearly from -60F to +100F I can reasonably grasp most of the human habitated temperature ranges on earth. How do you relate (or Eli for that matter if you've experienced it already) when I say I woke up this morning and the thermometer read -20F with a windchill making it feel like -50F and a daytime high of -19F (-45F windchill) and cursed myself for forgetting to plug in my car last night so that IF it (hopefully) manages to start it will take a good 5-10 minutes of running at high-idle before my transmission unfreezes enough that I can move the gearshift.

My answer to his question would be "no." I understand what cold temperatures feel down to about -5F wind chill, but beyond that, I have absolutely no idea what it would feel like. I ran for thirty minutes once when it was 112F (and many times when it was over 100F), but I've got no clue past that, either.

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