Sunday, January 11, 2009
Our normal high/low this time of year is 0F to -19F or so. Not bad, really. Cold, but do-able. Instead, the Tanana Valley has had lows between -45 and -60, although we only broke a record on one day that I heard (the airport being the official temperature for the area). It's kinda neat; since we're in a valley with two rivers, the temperature can vary by 15 to 20 degrees depending on where you stand. The bank thermometer around the corner is consistently 5 degrees colder than the one less than a half mile away. Meanwhile, the one at Fred Meyer (maybe 2.5 miles away) said -65 when ours said -42.
It happens sometimes. After all, we live in Alaska. Turns out we've been having a nasty spell like this every 10 years. Not just -40 (which we'll dip to just about every year) , but -40 over an extended period. I remember in 1989, walking to catch the city bus to the University for classes at an unofficial temp of -67. Nothing closes down at these temps, we just bundle up and keep going.
There's not much to do when it's happening, all your preparations for the nasty cold need to be before hand. We re-weather stripped all the doors and windows last summer. We made sure all the various heaters that allow us to plug in our cars and keep them from freezing up are functional. You make sure your furnace have had a tune-up. And you bundle up. Sure, your car might be all warm, but what if you break down? My trunk has, besides the usual roadside assistance stuff, blankets and those funny foil space blankets, extra hats and scarves, and even extra socks. If we're not wearing snow pants they're in a bag in the trunk. I don't let my car get below a half tank of gas and the cell phone is always on me.
The worst of it was most of the cold happened over Christmas break, so both kids were home. Now, we aren't snow bunnies, we spend most of our time indoors in the winter, but at -40 a half-hour romp in Grandpa's back yard isn't an option. Breathing too deep can damage your lungs, and a toddler who won't keep on mittens is a challenge (I actually sew his mittens to his sleeves and take away the option). Our place is small, so finding ways to burn energy has been challenging. Leftover Halloween mini Play-doh's and the board games that Santa got us have been seeing a lot of use.
They're predicting that this is finally moving out. Our local meteorologist says a very rare weather "ridge" along the Alaska-Canada border was choking up the system. Now it's moved out, warm air is coming up from the Pacific and this nasty nasty cold is moving over Canada and down into the Great Lakes area (sorry!). I can't wait. We're supposed to have 20F by Thursday!
I'm breaking out the shorts and flip-flops. That's 60 degrees warmer than right now.
at 7:06 PM