Weather Report

January 24, 2008 at 5:40 pm Leave a comment

The batteries in the outdoor transmitter for my weather station quit functioning at 10 o’clock last night shortly after it registered a temperature of -10 oF.  Zorro woke me up at 5 this morning and managed to convince me that he really did need to go out and pee.  While we were out I checked the thermometer at the training center and it read -21 oF.  We’ve had more cold weather (i.e. below zero) this year than we’ve seen in a while.  Rumor has it that we’ll see much warmer temperatures for the rest of the week, so I’d like to celebrate what I hope is the worst of the cold with this bit of below zero trivia:

  • Packed snow begins to squeak underfoot at about 5° F. At about -5° F, it squeaks with a distinct hollow sound.
  • At below zero temperatures the air is condensed and sounds are amplified.  This makes them carry farther than they normally do.  Last night I could hear my neighbor – a quarter mile away across the creek and through dense hardwood forest – softly talking to his dogs as they took their last break of the evening.
  • When temperatures fall below zero, the inside of your nose freezes as you breathe in.  If its not too far below zero, it thaws again as you exhale.  The resulting feeling is oddly invigorating.
  • Cold sinks. The dogs and I walked two hundred yards down to the creek last night (about an 80 foot drop in elevation).  It was quite noticeably colder there, maybe partly due to the fact that that part of the creek sits in a small, confined hollow surrounded by hills on all sides.
  • Batteries are affected by cold.  According to information provided by AAA, at -20° F, battery power is reduced by 50%.  This explains why my weather station quit working.
  • Once temperatures drop below 10° F, road salt doesn’t work.  If icing is a problem, MinnDOT adds calcium chloride or beet juice to the salt.  Those mixtures quit working at temperatures of 10 to 15 below zero.  We avoid this problem in our long driveway by using sand or ash spread on top of the snow to add traction.  They work at any temperature.
  • Ice fog forms when air temperatures drop into the double digit below zero range.  The air is so cold that any vapor present condenses almost immediately.  Ice fog is most common in and around urban areas where moisture from heating systems, auto exhaust and breath provide moisture.  We’re in a rural area a few miles outside a small town.  We don’t see it much here.
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