Sunday, March 02, 2014

How Cold Is Cold ?

Good morning. I am here to announce that a new low welcomed us as we awoke just before daylight. -32 Fahrenheit, sixty-four degrees below the temperature at which human blood freezes, snuggled our world in silence.  A record low ambient temperature for the five years we have been living on the central north prairie of the United States gives me reason to jot you all a note.

All was quiet  in the house except for the humming of the forced (Florida purchased at a very reasonable price) air furnace providing enough heat to keep us alive and comfy.  Outside, no rumbling of oil trains  on the tracks just south of town. Diesel engines are not pleased with temperatures below 0 Fahrenheit.  Usually, there is an engine idling just beyond town that let's us know that the Burlington Northern  rail workers are busy at work.  Not today.  I'm sure only the most essential work is being completed on a day on which humans have trouble surviving let alone handling the tools of oil rigger's and fettler's professions.

As for those of us inside.  An additional layer has been added to our indoor clothing and down booties cover our feet that tread on rather cold floors.  Our little furnace will probably not turn off at all today while it attempts to keep the temperature inside the house at a toasty 63 degrees.  Our downstairs walls were last insulated in 1969 when the house was transported from a farmstead and reset in town. Although they generally keep us quite warm, it is asking a good deal of them to ward off temperatures this far below freezing.  There is a brisk breeze coming in from the west, which certainly adds to the ferocity of these low degrees.

The pick-up (ute) may well start after a brief complaint. It is gasoline powered (and unlike it's diesel cousins doesn't mind the cold so much). The lubricants in the engine are synthetic because 'real' oil doesn't appreciate cold below 0 either. However, the little motor in the automatic garage opener may not cooperate.  It has been known to fail at +5, which, of course, means I won't be heading to the grocery store 8 miles distant today.

We are rewarding ourselves that none of our water pipes froze in the night, which was assuredly colder than the 8 a.m. temperatures on our little indoor-outdoor thermometer.  The real hero, however, is the weather itself.  The wind and cold sifted into our world from almost due west. No northern breezes caressed the back of the house where all the pipes arise out of the basement.  

Yesterday I took a two mile hike out to the dump grounds in search of signs of coyote or wolf (footprints in the snow). Both of whom have been sighted this winter in our area.  I dressed warmly and stuck hand and foot warmers in the right spots.  However, not even the modified balaclava I wore to protect my cheeks from the breezy cold was enough.  I have wind burn on my face where the synthetic covering of my head gear didn't quite reach my sun glasses.  Amazing how when one's fingers and toes are warm, one can forget to protect other exposed skin.

This is all a new experience for us - this level of cold - however, it is supposed to last only a day or so and then we return to a normal -5 or so...amazing the difference 25 degrees of temperature makes. :)