In our own backyard... Oh baby, it’s COLD!I love winter. I love winter. I love winter. But I’m getting the least, teensy bit tired of it. It’s not the snow that bothers me so much as the prolonged cold. And lately, we’ve been talking COLD! Last Sunday’s forecast confirmed that we were in for another round of that sort of COLD....
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
I love winter. I love winter. I love winter.
But I’m getting the least, teensy bit tired of it. It’s not the snow that bothers me so much as the prolonged cold. And lately, we’ve been talking COLD! Last Sunday’s forecast confirmed that we were in for another round of that sort of COLD....
Wind chill warnings were posted for Sunday night and Monday morning, indicating the temperatures would plunge to ?? below zero, with wind chills down to minus 22 and beyond. Ouch. That was more than a little hard to take, especially with seven inches of new snow on the ground on top of all that we’ve already gotten.
I awoke Monday morning, groggily pulled on my polar fleece and wobbled out the half a block to get our morning newspaper. Still warm from my bed, I thought to myself, “Aw, this doesn’t feel all that bad....”
And though the weather report on the morning news assured me that it certainly was “that bad,” still I refused to buy into it. After all, schools weren’t closed and there weren’t even any late starts, so just how bad could it be?
I did have the wisdom to ask my husband to try starting my car before he departed for work, fearful that it might have grown balky over the long holiday break.
“No problem!” he assured me as he poked his head back in the front door before taking off.
I breathed a little easier and went back to my curling iron. I was nearly ready to walk out the front door when the telephone rang. It was Ken, warning me that despite the fact the roads looked good, they were coated in black ice and he had just seen one car skid across the opposite lane and into the ditch, and another go off the road and roll over.
“Be careful!” he warned.
I immediately felt my blood pressure rise with anxiety, and perhaps that’s why the temperature outdoors still didn’t feel all that bad when I finally ventured out the front door, bundled up in a down jacket, wool socks and chopper mitts.
As I opened the door of my car, the fact that it felt heavier than normal should have been a dead giveaway that the temperature was anything BUT normal. But as I fired up the engine and backed out of the garage, I was once again lulled into a false sense of security after noticing my car thermometer read eight degrees above zero.
“No problemo!” I thought glibly.
I backed confidently out of the garage, and despite the fact the car seemed a little stiff and sluggish, I figured it was just because it hadn’t been driven over the long weekend.
By the time I got to the end of our driveway, my car’s outdoor temperature gauge had fallen to four degrees above zero. By the time I got to the end of our road, I noticed the wheels of my car felt more square than round, and the outside temperature had fallen to six below zero!
By the time I got down to the corner, the thermometer indicated a frigid minus 12, and as I hit the main highway, the outdoor temperature registered a bone chilling 16 below. I realized that though we don’t have a heated garage, keeping the car inside was just enough to give a false reading on the temperature gauge....
I cranked up the heat several more notches and glanced impatiently at the seat heater gauge (my one indulgence!), but the seat of my car felt stiff and cold. It seemed that little did anything to impact the icy cold in the interior of my car.
My windows had started to frost over, and I noticed I could see my breath every time I exhaled. Inside my fleece-lined choppers, the tips of my fingers began to grow frosty, and my ankles felt numb. I adjusted the heat vents to aim them all in my direction, punched up the heat a couple more degrees – and waited.
By the time I turned south on Highway 33, the outside temperature gauge had dropped to a harrowing 20 degrees below zero. There was a sun dog beaming straight down from the sun, and my windows had started to frost up once again. The radio announcer reminded everyone that the wind chill advisory was in effect until 9 a.m. and warned against leaving house pets out in the cold.
I could feel a fine tension begin to build between my shoulder blades and up the back of my neck, from sitting behind the wheel with my shoulders hunched and my backbone held stiff to stave off the cold. I had the heater in my car cranked up all the way to 76 degrees, but only a trickle of tepid air emerged.
As I drove into Cloquet, the outside air temperature registered 22 below zero. I worked my way over to Avenue C and wedged my car into the drift of an unplowed parking lot near my office.
I put my car into park and stiffly reached over to turn off the ignition – just as a blast of hot air came streaming out of the vents....