Happy (Chilly) New Year

How cold is it, really?

Of Particular Significance

Welcome 2014! And quite a start to the year, with a cold snap that rivals anything we’ve seen in two decades. I don’t remember cold like this since the horrid winter of 1994, when the Northeastern U.S. saw snowstorms and extreme cold that alternated back and forth for weeks. Of course, when I was a child in the 1970s, such chills happened a lot more often; I remember a number of New England mornings where I awoke to a thermometer reading of -20ºFahrenheit (-29ºCelsius) [244 Kelvin].

The scariest negative temperature numbers that one hears about from the media are associated with the “wind chill”, which is a number that is supposed to measure how cold the air “feels” to your skin.  But “wind chill” is a rather subjective and controversial measure — there’s no unique way to define it, since you’ll feel differently depending on how much exposed skin you…

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2 thoughts on “Happy (Chilly) New Year

  1. Ah, yes. The winter of 1994. Also: the winter of 1983, when I was ice skating in my Houton apartment courtyard, and the winter of 1990, when I was living aboard a boat on Galveston Bay and got iced in. For that matter, how about this?

    The linked article was good – very good – and it served as a reminder of how short our memories can be. The span of a single human life may be a good starting point for discussions of climate patterns and significant weather events, but we can’t judge everything by what’s happened in our lifetime (not that the writer was).

    Still, I remember an Iowa winter in the 50s when I ended up stranded at my grandparents’ house for a week because of the most amazing blizzard I’ve ever seen. On one side of the house even the grass was scoured clean. On the other sides, where the doors were, the drifts were up to the ridge line of the roof. Grandpa went out a window with a snow shovel and managed to make a path to the front door.


  2. That snow picture in Houston was something. True about climate patterns being long term. We are seeing significant weather events. It seems there are trends. The data is sending stronger messages.

    Your snow storm in the 50s sounds like a nasty one. I’ve seen pictures of homes in the Dakotas drifted over barely leaving anything exposed. That is harsh.

    Thanks for your comments.


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