Thursday, January 07, 2010

It got all the way up to 21 degrees today,

and it's 15 now, on the way down to 5 or so.

I know most of you are aware of what temperatures like this mean, but just for anyone who doesn't:

It kills.

More years ago than I care to think about my family lived in a little town in northern Oklahoma surrounded by farms and ranches, and at times in winter you'd swear there was nothing between you and the North Pole but a few stray buffalo and elk. I(very happily) never worked on one of them in a situation where I had to take care of the livestock, but you learn in a place like that that the weather isn't just good or bad to be out in. You pay attention to it. In summer storms can come rolling over the plains faster than seemed possible; high winds, lightning, tornadoes, hail, heavy rain. That's where I learned(secondhand, I'm happy to say) that 12-18" of fast-flowing water over a road can wash a car or truck into the creek.

Winter gives ice and cold and wind. 30F isn't too cold, but every mph of wind takes the wind chill down. People have died of exposure in temps around 50F; often after getting wet, but also just from pushing too far and getting too tired, not having enough energy left to stay warm and not realizing until too late they had to warm up, or else. They just keep pushing on until "I need to rest a minute", they close their eyes and never open them. Happens every year.

At 30, a 20mph wind makes it feel like 17F. Drop the temp to 20, that same wind gives you 4. Drop the temp to 10, that same wind makes it feel like 9 below zero. You can get frostbite fast, and your body is using a lot of energy to maintain temperature; spend a while out in the cold working(shoveling snow, cutting wood, clearing a road, whatever) and as you warm up after you'll be starving, your system needing calories to replace what it burned keeping you warm.

Earlier today I decided I needed to take a walk. I did dress for it*, but it wound up being a short walk; the air was almost painful to breathe, and so dry...

What brought all this to mind was reading this:
Volunteers have reported that ‘a large number’ of elderly customers are snapping up hardbacks as cheap fuel for their fires and stoves.

Temperatures this week are forecast to plummet as low as -13ºC in the Scottish Highlands, with the mercury falling to -6ºC in London, -5ºC in Birmingham and -7ºC in Manchester as one of the coldest winters in years continues to bite.

Workers at one charity shop in Swansea, in south Wales, described how the most vulnerable shoppers were seeking out thick books such as encyclopaedias for a few pence because they were cheaper than coal.

One assistant said: ‘Book burning seems terribly wrong but we have to get rid of unsold stock for pennies and some of the pensioners say the books make ideal slow-burning fuel for fires and stoves.

A lot of them buy up large hardback volumes so they can stick them in the fire to last all night.’

Just wonderful, isn't it?

And with Obama's minions playing games to make it harder to drill for oil & gas here, and dead-set against nuke plants, we may wind up there. And I don't have a damned fireplace.

*About fifteen years back Dad somehow wound up with a Army Arctic Parka. It was a bit small for him so he gave it to me; that thing has been wonderful a number of times.


dress up games said...

i can tell you its freezing here in the Scottish highlands! in my town it was -15 last night.
ice is everywhere and its impossible to get to the shops with your car.

Firehand said...

-15 C or F?

Either way, yeah, driving on ice gets downright nasty.