Saturday, January 9, 2010

Magic Number

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It seems ironic that our coldest time of year is when the sun is on the rise. At the risk of sounding like an old fisherman telling a tale, I still have to say that this isn't as cold as it's been in years past.

These are tonight's stats with a 9 mph wind:
Temperature -43 F (-42 C)
Windchill -68 F (-56 C)

I remember school being dismissed a few years ago because, not only was the ambient temperature around -60, the windchill was -84. And I'm sure lifelong residents would have no trouble topping that.

But, forty below seems to be the magic number that brings all things mechanical to a screeching halt. The school bus is relegated to the bus barn because metal parts tend to snap. Bush planes aren't supposed to be in the air at -40 or colder and I can't say I'd want to be on one that was.

Moisture from furnaces crystallizes and hangs in the air like a veil.

Without the buzz of four-wheelers and snow machines, the village might settle into an eerie sort of silence.

Except...

In temperatures like these, fabrics containing polyester stiffen and make crinkling sounds when the wearer moves. A group of children in store-bought coats sound like a bunch of potato chip bags being crumpled together.

Nothing silent about that.

Even the snow is noisy...like treading on Styrofoam, it squeaks and creaks with every step.

I just let Rudy out for the last time tonight. When he came back inside five minutes later, his teeth were actually chattering! I had to laugh. It just isn't often that one hears the sound of chattering teeth emanating from a dog.

-43F...-68F windchill

It seems that Peace and Quiet, those long-standing friends, spend most of the year together. But when the mercury drops to forty below, Quiet looks for some warmer weather.

11 comments:

Floridacracker said...

Bustling kids sounding like bags of chips will stick with me.
... and the image of your dog with chattering teeth.

Anonymous said...

You are making me SO homesick! Great description, brings back all the sensory cold perceptions quite nicely, thank you. I am in NW Arkansas, still, where the temp this morning was 4 degrees. Sun is out now and things are warming up. I am waiting on weather a little warmer to repack the van and plan to hit the road on Friday, very definitely heading SOUTH. Take care and be safe. Jay

Anonymous said...

Rudy said, that kind of cold will make any man or beast teeth chatter...we are hitting temps in the low 20s for almost a wk. now @ night....so unlike us here. Wusses we are...we are more into 45 one day..70 the next.... a warming trend toward teh end of the wk. Windchill was supposed to be abou 10, some places north of here 0. I am ready for spring...tammy

MK said...

So, just how much clothes does one have to wear not freeze in that sort of weather?

dlynthomas said...

I am not a cold weather person at all. Just wondering how hard it is for someone from the south to adjust to such extreme temps? And really, once it gets into the negatives like that, does it really matter if it is 20 below or 40 below? I mean after a certain point, COLD is COLD! I am sure there are technicalitlies like you spoke of, but for the average person can you tell if it is -35 or -50??? I would be a popsicle by that time.LOL!

Kimberlee said...

FC...
LOL! It's pretty crazy, huh?


Jay...
Happy to make you homesick! :) I'm following your trek (I should link your blog...duh!). When will you return to Barrow?


Tammy...
I do understand the aversion to cold and I sympathize, but personally I am a cold weather person. All my years in the south, I just had one sinus infection after another. Since I've been here...maybe one in eight years. Try to stay warm!


MK...
Wow...that's a blog post in and of itself. Short answer...not as much as you'd think, but they have to be the right kind. Wind is another big issue around here, in addition to the cold temps. I'll try to explain more soon!


dlyn...
Some people never adjust, but it hasn't been difficult for me. But, then, I've ALWAYS been a cold weather person. There are differences in the way temps feel, but I'll have to think about how to explain it. Thanks for the interest and the questions...I'll see what I can come up with. :)

Anonymous said...

I found out that the fuel in the plane gels at around -47. Not flying at -40 gives the the plane a little wiggle room.
I guess a person gets use to the cold, I'm from Hawaii myself and lived there for 28 years. I also find that the dry cold air is better for my sinus. When I out there shoveling snow or just plain working in the cold my sinus just runs like a run away frieght train. I think this kind of almost flushes out the sinus........
noodles

Kimberlee said...

Noodles...
Thanks for sharing about the plane fuel turning to gel. What a scary thought!

Lisa said...

Great photos!

ilsiuua said...

What beautiful pictures! Hard to believe people can live in such cold weather... and the poor frozen doggie.... brrrr!

Kimberlee said...

Lisa...
Thank you very much!


ilsiuua...
Thank you! And I agree, the idea that this place has been successfully inhabited for thousands of years IS hard to believe. It says a lot for human ingenuity and the will to survive. Today, we have the advantage of modern technologies that make living here much more feasible. As long as everything works the way it's supposed to...this isn't a bad place to be. :)