If it's cold for you, it's cold for your tauntaun
January 30, 2019 10:24 AM   Subscribe

The Upper Midwestern US, recovering from Winter Storm Jayden, is caught in the grips of a "polar vortex", bringing record setting cold (autoplaying video) across the nation, leading to cities like Minneapolis and Chicago virtually shutting down. Of note, the US Postal Service suspended mail delivery in parts or all of 10 states today.

Despite what some people assert, the polar vortex is a natural phenomenon that does not contradict global warming. (Meanwhile, Australia's heat wave seems undending in this age of weather extremes.)
posted by ZeusHumms (78 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
Caption of the Year: The Star Tribune printed a photo of a young man crossing the UofM campus in shorts. "He wouldn't give his name because he said his mom would be mad at him."
posted by Hypatia at 10:35 AM on January 30 [61 favorites]


Please do not refer to storms by a name given to them by a corporation.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:37 AM on January 30 [55 favorites]


Here in Omaha they cancelled school because of the cold; however, they haven't cancelled the rehearsal for the school play at my kid's school. In fact, they've moved it up a couple of hours. They didn't decide this, mind you, until around 10 this morning, and it didn't seem to occur to anyone involved that this might be something of an inconvenience for those of us who work during the day.

All I know is, when I go outside the frames of my glasses get so cold so quickly that it actually hurts to wear the damn things.
posted by Ipsifendus at 10:38 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


And the deep state strikes again: from NOAA, "Winter storms don't prove that global warming isn't happening."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:40 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Canadian expat living in Chicago reporting in. Internet was down for two hours this morning and my phone couldn't connect either at first. I was terrified it was the end of civilization.

I went out just now because I was curious and my addiction required me to get cola from grocery store 300 steps from my building. I saw a smoker smoking take about five puffs before stubbing out their dart and heading back inside. There are people out and aboot but they are bundled up. I saw zero Chads in shorts wearing flip flops.

My assessment -

Trip to: no big deal. It's what I would call "Ottawa cold". Uncomfortable, your nose hairs freeze up and it's a bit hard to breath.
Trip Back: Strong wind in my face. That hurts like getting blasted with ice crystals (there were no ice crystals - it was just air). I'm staying in for the rest of the day.
posted by srboisvert at 10:44 AM on January 30 [14 favorites]


Here in St Paul I went out briefly to make sure the car still runs after sitting idle since Sunday morning.
Vehicle temp in garage: 16°F
1st turn (3 houses down): 0°F
2nd turn (5 blocks): -11°F
After 15 min in grocery store: -13°F
posted by Flannery Culp at 10:45 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Per the UK news, the polar vortex has split, and Europe is getting the other, weaker, half of it.

Here in Edinburgh the temperature has dropped about 10 degrees (Celsius) in the past week, from unusually warm (for January) to sub-zero: the UK may hit a new record low temperature in the next couple of nights, although those of you on the Great Lakes are entitled to a hollow laugh at the thought of people suffering in -11 Celsius conditions.
posted by cstross at 10:48 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


The Chicago Metra (commuter rail train) is being fairly metal about all of this.
posted by merriment at 10:49 AM on January 30 [21 favorites]




This morning it was -28 in Minneapolis. I've had to move all of my plant shelves a foot away from the windows because they've all iced over on the inside. The hardware on my exterior doors were also frosted over on the inside this morning. My dog ran outside, as per usual, sniffed the air once and said "eff this" and came back inside. The USPS has cancelled service today and I don't blame them. I had hung some handwarmers from my mailbox for the letter carrier last night but I'm glad that she's not coming around anyway today.

You will all be relieved to know that the Warroad-Roseau hockey game went on as scheduled, despite a gametime temp of -29. They actually held classes at school yesterday, because if they'd cancelled classes then they would have had to cancel the game. And nobody wanted to cancel the game.
posted by Gray Duck at 10:54 AM on January 30 [12 favorites]




Bring them inside
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:58 AM on January 30 [18 favorites]


One more thing. I was off work yesterday and indulged in a bit of weekday-off-work nostalgia: I watched The Price is Right. At the top of the hour the School Closing scroll started at the bottom of the screen with Academy of the Holy Angels. By the time they got to Zumbrota, it was the Showcase Showdown. It took almost an hour to scroll through the school closings. If I was a kid waiting to see if my school was cancelled, I would have expired from the suspense. They should have just had the names of the schools that WERE open: Warroad, Roseau, and some other schools with mean superintendents.
posted by Gray Duck at 10:59 AM on January 30 [17 favorites]


Yeah, "Winter Storm Jayden" isn't a thing, except according to Weather.com's marketing. Naming every storm is their way to try to get more clicks.

I'm really enjoying the day off. The sky is bright and beautiful, and every once in a while a crazy motherfucker jogs past my window, which I find wonderfully amusing. My roommate walked into work - I told him to cover his face, and he was like "Pshaw, it's been colder than this." When he came back for lunch he was completely bundled up. Hah!

I know it's causing a lot of hardship for others, and I'm lucky that I don't have to leave the house or deal with children who are off school, etc. It's nice under my blankets cuddled up with my cats though.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 11:01 AM on January 30 [10 favorites]


-40C here this morning. The walk to the bus wasn't as bad as I was expecting, thanks to my Giant Boots o' Doom (felt liners work wonders).
posted by irrelephant at 11:03 AM on January 30 [7 favorites]


Wind chill of -54°F after sunup here. Gotta take Mrs. to and from work in this, too.

Multiple outages in areas within a short drive of me. Last night, I kept myself up for a while wondering what the fuck I would do if my always-kind-of-chilly corner apartment lost its heat. I decided on "packing wife and cats into the car, and maybe trying to reach our friends' house two hours' drive away, assuming THEY also still have heat." The next nearest people we could crash with are over four hours' drive away.

Also, not gonna lie: just looked up a colder place to be reassured that there IS one, after seeing those "Colder than Antarctica" headlines.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:05 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Metatalk: Extreme Weather Check In thread
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:06 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Looks like she's gonna turn cold tomorrow
posted by thelonius at 11:10 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


The other weather related experience from today was that our bedroom window - large with a floor to ceiling metal frame and an a/c unit in the bottom metal part - made a really loud metallic cracking sound at 4am this morning. I assume it was just metal contraction. Once I woke up later and inspected there was no sign of anything amiss other than a window and frame coated in a thin layer of ice. Our window was frozen shut from about 4pm yesterday on (we normally have it open a couple of inches even in the dead of winter because we are 17 floors up, south facing and don't control our heat).

The Chicago reddit forum has a couple of threads full of freaked out homeowners hearing new sounds.
posted by srboisvert at 11:15 AM on January 30 [6 favorites]


Fargo, North Dakota, for example, experienced temperatures of minus 31 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday. At that temperature, vodka freezes solid.

VodkaPops™, the perfect weekend treat.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:22 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


You think you're joking, but.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:29 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Yes, fire is used to keep Chicago trains running in the cold. (Mary Wisniewski, Chicago Tribune)

It keeps the switches from freezing or getting stuck in one position.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:32 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


Had one guy last night living in a tent inside a tent in the woods behind an apartment building. He tipped over a propane burner in his sleep and set some of his many sleeping bags alight. Someone from the apartment building heard him yelling and called 911, which I thought was pretty impressive. I'd imagine their window was closed, snow deadens sound, and he was about 30-40m back into some woods. I've worked that area for years so I'm familiar with where the encampment is. We tromped back there and found him, then walked him out and brought him to the hospital. His hands were black and I thought it was from the fire at first but once at the hospital I could see they were black and swollen from frostbite; the stuff that looked like frozen vomit on his legs was actually burned sleeping bag that had melted into his jeans. I don't envy the people working the hospital ER for stuff like this. Or ever, really.

Later on a security guard demanded that I kick out a guy who was sleeping in a parking ramp stairwell. He got surprisingly huffy when I said no. Dispatch was as astonished as I was that anyone would actually call 911 for that right now. I had our 911 calltakers informed that barring pretty extreme misbehavior none of us were interested in kicking people out of whatever nook they'd found during the vortex. Another security guard called about people smoking crack in a lobby across the street from the property he was paid to watch. Like dang, mind your business guy.
posted by firebrick at 11:33 AM on January 30 [49 favorites]


Here in Minneapolis, car towing for snow emergency is once again racist and classist, with cars being towed from black neighborhoods and parts of town that are primarily rental properties. The wealthy white part of town was again not touched.
Here's the map.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:38 AM on January 30 [10 favorites]


Please do not refer to storms by a name given to them by a corporation.

Especially if it's named Jayden; which management knob's kid was that named for?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:39 AM on January 30 [17 favorites]


Also, this morning we almost got C/F convergence, so shut up you big babies.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:43 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


I am on day 3 of working from home with my 6 year old. A couple neighborhood friends have been trading play dates to cover our more important conference calls, which has been a thoroughly modern parent experience.

This is my first winter with my 2014 Nissan Leaf, and I’m trying to figure out daytime charging options so I can drive to work, a random surprise orchestra rehearsal location, and back home again without totally draining my battery. Range anxiety is real, yo. How much juice will driving on the highway at -25F use? Will the chargers at the parking garage be blocked by non-EV cars? Will the chargers even work? Will my viola freak out? I have no idea!

I am relieved for my mail carrier, though - yesterday he was powering through with only a hooded sweatshirt as his outermost layer. I don’t know if he owns a coat.
posted by Maarika at 11:44 AM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Kentucky the governor says schools closing for wind chill is a sign we're 'soft'.

To which Al Roker replies.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:44 AM on January 30 [12 favorites]


Yes, fire is used to keep Chicago trains running in the cold. (Mary Wisniewski, Chicago Tribune)

It keeps the switches from freezing or getting stuck in one position.


The MBTA does this as well, and it doesn't even have to be all that cold for them to use this technique. When the vortex hits us here tomorrow, it won't be as cold as it has been in the Midwest the last couple of days, but cold enough that they'll probably need the Fire Snakes.
posted by briank at 11:45 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


-40C here this morning

That's the one temperature where you don't have to specify C or F!
posted by notsnot at 11:45 AM on January 30 [15 favorites]




-40C here this morning.

Also -40F!
posted by hanov3r at 11:50 AM on January 30 [6 favorites]


As a reminder: It's SUMMER in Antarctica right now (s/l twitter rant by Angela Fritz)
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:55 AM on January 30 [5 favorites]


Here's how they cancelled school in Swartz Creek, Michigan.

Bloody brilliant. And they can sing!
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:59 AM on January 30 [9 favorites]


Nice explanatory sentence from the physics article linked by robbyrob:
Because of rapid Arctic warming, the north/south temperature difference has diminished. This reduces pressure differences between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, weakening jet stream winds. And just as slow-moving rivers typically take a winding route, a slower-flowing jet stream tends to meander.
posted by clew at 12:02 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


That's the one temperature where you don't have to specify C or F!

It's all fun and games until someone thinks you meant -40 Kelvin.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:02 PM on January 30 [18 favorites]


I thought the air temperature map at the bottom of this article was kinda cool. (heh, unintentional)

From that map it looks like we're towards the edge of the "vortex", and supporting that, at least so far the temperatures here are normal for an Ottawa winter (it's gotten to -40 windchill on a couple early mornings, but only mid -20s C absolute, so it's fine if you can block the wind). I hope we don't see the ~ -40 absolute/-50s C with windchill that a few places seem to be getting....yikes.
posted by randomnity at 12:07 PM on January 30


It's all fun and games until someone thinks you meant -40 Kelvin.

Which, counterintuitively, is hotter than infinite temperature. [Previously]
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:11 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]




I saw a pigeon a few minutes ago just doing normal pigeon stuff! I love our unkillable trash birds
posted by theodolite at 12:54 PM on January 30 [22 favorites]


I’m currently in Chicago which is apparently around -12F right now, with many places shut down as others have mentioned. I’ve spent the last few winters in Helsinki, which is generally more temperate than Chicago (being on the Baltic Sea/Gulf of Finland — casual googling indicates an average January temperature of 26F/-3C which sounds about right).

Nevertheless, there is often that single anomalous week in January when it gets to around -25C at midday — in other words, current Chicago temperatures — and yet, life continues as normal. People are on the streets, shops are open, little kids in snowsuits are out and about. Which is all to say I couldn’t help a bit of eye-rolling at the histrionic squawking of the news outlets, and learning that a number of businesses (including my gym! grar) elected to close. Talk to me when you get Canada temperatures.
posted by myotahapea at 1:00 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Our school was closed today (Chicago), but I anticipated that a few days ago given the forecast. Just received word that tomorrow we're closed, too.

Coincidentally, this past weekend I just stumbled across the fact that Thursdays there's an all-day Monk marathon on the boob tube. I do have to teach classes virtually in the morning. But after that, holed up, drinking soda pop and watching some whodunit's sounds like a perfect way to ride out the cold. I could be wrong now... but I don't think so.
posted by Theophrastus Johnson at 1:18 PM on January 30 [4 favorites]


Talk to me when you get Canada temperatures.
Extreme cold kills people. I've never understood this attitude.
posted by soelo at 1:19 PM on January 30 [26 favorites]


Yeah. People. Things aren't closing down because of the mid-day high temperatures, which are fine with some bundling up. They're closed down because of the morning and evening temperatures with a wind chill of -50 degrees. Having your car battery die in that cold can be life threatening.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:21 PM on January 30 [17 favorites]


Places that have similar midday temps generally have similar morning and evening temps as well.
posted by myotahapea at 1:26 PM on January 30


Myotahapea, that is patently not true by any stretch of the imagination. It depends on a range of factors, including the amount of moisture in the air, wind, changes in atmospheric pressure, ect.

Minneapolis usually gets that one week that doesn't get above 0, too, with highs in the negative teens one or two of those days. The lows with wind chill tend to be -25, and it's brisk, but doable with some car trouble. Negative fifty is not the same temperature.

Not to mention Chicago's infrastructure is not built for that sort of temperature. There's a reason why it's a dick move to pooh-pooh southern states for closing down for an inch of snow - there's nothing to clear the roads of ice, and it is, in fact, dangerous. Rochester, MN had to close down their bus service last night because the diesel busses wouldn't start.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:38 PM on January 30 [22 favorites]


Talk to me when you get Canada temperatures.
Extreme cold kills people. I've never understood this attitude.


We know that. Every year, people die here without adequate protection.

For comfortable people with homes to go to, I think, "Just bundle up, already; this is typical Winnipeg weather."

But for the millions of homeless, this is a death sentence. Which is why we need to end homelessness immediately.
ice storm; the hill
a pyramid of black crystal
down with the cars
slide like phosphorescent beetles
while I, walking backwards in obedience
to the wind, am possessed
of the fearful knowledge
my compatriots share
but almost never utter:
this is a country
where a man can die
simply from being
caught outside.
"Canadian January Night," Alden Nowlan
posted by jb at 2:24 PM on January 30 [11 favorites]


Last week on FB I posted a lightly mocking comparison of the heatwave my part of Australia experienced with the cold snap my Illinois family were experiencing. At that point it was 100F here and 0F there.

I don't think I'll be mocking them this week.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 2:37 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


Also a reminder for those of us comparing today's wind chills with what we remember from our childhoods: In 2001 Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom implemented a new wind chill index developed by scientists and medical experts on the Joint Action Group for Temperature Indices [Wikipedia]. Basically, they changed the calculation/chart. The lows this morning here in Chicago (-25 ambient with a 20mph wind) would have been called -74F wind chill prior to 2001, not the -50 they were calling it today. So if you're all "I remember it being -45 wind chill when I was a kid and we still went to school" hey guess what that would only be like -30 or so today. And by the way, I do remember in the late 80s/early 90s getting a day or two off of school in Buffalo because of extreme cold.

As for me, I did find today's temps to not be quite as painful as I was expecting. Then again, I was able to work from home to avoid the half mile trek to the train, have lots of wool base layers and a very good down puffy coat, and only had to take the dog out for short walks. Facing into the wind did hurt my brow bone deep into my skull like I had just bit into an ice cream bar though.

My poor dog (a greyhound, not exactly naturally equipped to manage this kind of weather) has been struggling. She's normally surprisingly tolerant of the cold, but today we hit her limit. Even wearing 2 coats, booties, and a scarf around her ears, she started shaking and limping after about 5 minutes. There was much celebration when she pooped this afternoon for the first time in two days.

Tomorrow morning is going to be almost as cold as this morning was, and I can't work from home again. I'm not too worried about the cold - as a winter cyclist, runner, and former skier/snowboarder I have the gear - but just hoping the trains aren't too messed up from mechanical issues.
posted by misskaz at 3:05 PM on January 30 [9 favorites]


Talk to me when you get Canada temperatures.

We've been chatting about the weather on the MeFightClub discord server and it's been colder here in Minneapolis than it is up by our northern-most member (Hi Odiv!) in Yellowknife, NT for last two days.

Talk to ME when you get to Minnesota temps.

It also gets over 100F during the summer. What's worse is that nothing is ever consistent, temps and conditions swing around wildly from day to day. So you get "fun" effects like a blast of frigid arctic air one day and then it gets warm enough to snow the next. After the sky is done dumping all that snow on us, it gets super cold again.

If it's just stayed cold the air couldn't hold enough moisture to snow so we get the worst of both worlds.
posted by VTX at 3:09 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


“40 below keeps the riffraff out” is one of those things I’m reminded of as someone who grew up in Minnesota. This is the old bromide that a lot of people in the region like to trot out during cold snaps. It's one of those coded phrases that progressive northern US folks like to pretend they don't ever deploy as they cling to the notion that their region is somehow less racist than the rest of the country. Thousands of people there are struggling to survive without adequate shelter and it’s only at times like this that their existence briefly becomes impossible to ignore.

This is dangerous weather regardless of whether you’re in Canada or the US. It’s especially dangerous when the core of the cold spills as far south as Iowa or Illinois where infrastructure isn’t built for it and people aren’t prepared.

When it gets this cold farther north, however, I'm kind of heartened in a strange and illusive way. It's been years since I lived in Minnesota but I still do a mental fist pump when I see these cold snaps can still happen. Partly that’s because I’m a weather/climate geek, but mostly it’s because it needs to be this cold in this part of the world at this time of year and it's increasingly not.

I visited the north woods of Minnesota with some friends earlier this month and it was as freezing as it is now. Snowshoeing in the boreal forest brought to mind how necessary the cold is for this ecosystem. It kills tree-damaging insects and is good for healthy populations of moose and other animals. It keeps the spruce, fir, pine, and tamarack forests from turning into grasslands and hardwoods.

But as a result climate change, boreal forest will disappear from this region over the coming decades. Cold snaps somehow make it seem like this process is being put on hold. Of course, it isn’t really, because the climate is already warming dramatically here and the occasional outbreak of cold weather won’t delay the inevitable.
posted by theory at 3:24 PM on January 30 [13 favorites]


For comfortable people with homes to go to, I think, "Just bundle up, already; this is typical Winnipeg weather."

This is why Winnipeg's greatest export is people.
posted by srboisvert at 3:36 PM on January 30 [6 favorites]


“40 below keeps the riffraff out” is one of those things I’m reminded of as someone who grew up in Minnesota. This is the old bromide that a lot of people in the region like to trot out during cold snaps. It's one of those coded phrases that progressive northern US folks like to pretend they don't ever deploy as they cling to the notion that their region is somehow less racist than the rest of the country.
Funny, I live in Minnesota and I usually say it because it beats complaining about an unpleasant shared experience that we have no control over. Lucky I have self-righteous people to explain to me what I really mean.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 3:44 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]


I didn't think it meant anything either until I started asking people who the riffraff were supposed to be.

In a part of the country that was so overwhelmingly white for so long, the identity of the unnamed supposedly absent people shouldn't have surprised me.
posted by theory at 4:14 PM on January 30 [8 favorites]


It never occurred to me that could be interpreted as racist, I just think of it as a bit of Prairie Home Companion-style posturing. The women are strong, the men are good-looking, all the children are above average, and painfully harsh winters build character.

(On preview: wow. I believe you, theory, just am surprised.)
posted by Flannery Culp at 4:21 PM on January 30


Cool to see we're dispelling the myth about Canadians being nice and plasant.
posted by asteria at 4:27 PM on January 30 [3 favorites]




Aside from the potentially bigoted identity of the riffraff (which I can definitely believe, btw, but I personally never meant it that way), this weather will also kill the vast majority of emerald ash borers and some other pest insects. So it ain’t all bad.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:18 PM on January 30 [7 favorites]


Hopefully this will end the reign of tick terrorism. Or at least greatly hinder.
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:24 PM on January 30


Probably put a nice big dent in the skeeter population too.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:33 PM on January 30


Also, apparently about 25 people showed up to work on campus today at my office. The typical working population is about 4,000. Tomorrow’s definitely going to be leftovers day at the cafeteria.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:36 PM on January 30 [2 favorites]


Reporting from Minneapolis: I walked two blocks to the library this evening, having developed the sought-after Frosty Lashes™ upon my arrival. When I got back home, the back door of my apartment building would not open; the exterior lock was frozen and my key wouldn’t turn.

Tomorrow is Day 4 of no school, and I’ve been watching my 6 year old charge full time this week. I’m out of art project ideas, people!
posted by sucre at 8:11 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


I’m from Wisconsin and I don’t miss the cold at all. I remember one winter in high school when they said the wind chill was -90. I guess that was the old system? They cancelled school. My dad’s heat went out so his landlord put him up in a hotel. One with an indoor swimming pool. So, on the day off from school for bitterly cold weather, me and my friends went swimming.

My aunt just told me tonight that the bars are closing there because it’s so cold. You guys. The bars. In Wisconsin. Are closing. This is bigger than the Waffle House Index. Shit’s going down.
posted by Weeping_angel at 9:15 PM on January 30 [20 favorites]


Way back in the day, in the winter one would see random people standing at the bus stop with icicles in their hair. Presumably they jumped in the shower in the morning, then didn't dry their hair fully before leaving for the day. It was warmer then though. I wonder if people still do this.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:31 PM on January 30


Yes, fire is used to keep Chicago trains running in the cold.

American public transit: where setting it on fire is an improvement.

see also: Tsugaru Stove Train, sake and dried squid optional.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:47 PM on January 30


I went out yesterday right after my shower, but I drive so my hair melted in the car (new car, still struggling to create warmth until I have been driving a while). I’m headed into the Toronto Library convention today and then to run a few errands downtown while I am there. So far this winter I have been okay without a coat and today the trend will continue - thanks to parking underground and most of downtown Toronto connected via tunnels and an underground mall. When people talk about the lack of infrastructure in normally warmer climes, in addition to the plows etc, a lot of large communities in historically colder climes also connect major buildings downtown to limit outdoor exposure. It’s fantastic.
posted by saucysault at 2:16 AM on January 31 [4 favorites]


So far this winter I have been okay without a coat and today the trend will continue - thanks to parking underground and most of downtown Toronto connected via tunnels and an underground mall.

All it takes is for your car to die on you and you might miss having a coat for the rest of your life.
posted by srboisvert at 5:03 AM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Way back in the day, in the winter one would see random people standing at the bus stop with icicles in their hair. Presumably they jumped in the shower in the morning, then didn't dry their hair fully before leaving for the day. It was warmer then though. I wonder if people still do this.

I can report from my New England college days, a decade ago, that this was very widespread.

It was a campus where people mostly walked or biked everywhere and where undergrads, like undergrads everywhere, figured out how to minimize the time needed between waking up and your first class (at the horrific hour of 9:30 am or whatever). So you saw this a lot in the winter.
posted by andrewesque at 6:15 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I just did it this morning, because my fire alarms all went off while I was in the shower. There was no fire, thank God, but when I couldn’t get the alarms to turn off, I wound up calling the fire department anyway to make sure it wasn’t carbon monoxide or a gas problem. They checked things out while I froze my ass off in my garage. Everything’s okay, but Jesus Christ. Pop quiz, hotshot, do you have enough time to get dressed so you don’t freeze to death, before you pass out from carbon monoxide? Thank goodness it turned out to just be a faulty alarm unit.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:49 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Where I live in Michigan, last night they used the Amber Alert system to tell Consumer's Power gas customers to turn down their thermostats. Have not found any news stories about what is happening, so far, but I am looking.

I mean seriously, I have lived in Michigan for 50+ years and never had the gas go out. Failures are for electricty, phones, one in a while water. But gas? Weird.
posted by elizilla at 7:45 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I've seen news stories about it. They're worried about running out of gas supplies.
posted by Automocar at 7:55 AM on January 31


This is what minus-40 feels like (Christopher Ingraham, WaPo) (previously)
What I do know, however, is beyond a certain point the only thing you feel outside is pain.
...

As long as it is above minus-20, it is not uncommon to see Minnesotans out and about without a hat or gloves, or even in shorts. I used to think they were insane, but having lived here for several winters I now understand if you’re just making a quick jaunt out to the mailbox or into a store, it’s overkill to go through the hassle of suiting up all the way. Rule of thumb: If the amount of time you expect to spend outdoors is less than the amount of time it will take to get your coat, hat, mittens and scarf on, you can just dash out of the house in whatever you’re wearing.

Below minus-20, however, this calculus changes. Beyond this threshold, the thermal grace period shrinks rapidly and disappears altogether. By about 30 below the cold doesn’t feel like cold anymore — it’s just pure, unadulterated pain; a sharp, burning sensation. After a few moments, the burning gives way to a deep, dull ache that feels like it’s radiating from your bones. I’ve never been brave and/or dumb enough to test what comes after the ache, but my assumption is it’s deeply unpleasant and possibly irreversible.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:49 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Have not found any news stories about what is happening, so far, but I am looking.

It was a fire at a compressor station. They're concerned about shortages.
posted by Preserver at 8:57 AM on January 31 [1 favorite]


In Minnesota, the Governor and the state's Dept. of Education announced that there will be no financial penalty for classes being cancelled due to caution over the severe weather. So the need to make up days isn't as great.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:06 AM on February 1


from Weather Underground: "People really, really like the term polar vortex." (Actually, there's two polar vortices.)
posted by LeLiLo at 2:06 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


All it takes is for your car to die on you and you might miss having a coat for the rest of your life.

Thanks for your concern! I’m hot-blooded but I am not irresponsible. I keep my “big coat” (huge parka that basically doubles my size), snow pants, gloves and sheepskin mittens, toque, scarf, tall (rated -40) mukluks, and extra socks in the backseat of my car along with my other emergency supplies like chocolate and candles. Takes up the whole back seat but it is worth it!

I just hate having to wear a bulky coat rushing from a hot car to a hot house/shop/workplace.
posted by saucysault at 3:16 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Crikey, since I first posted this, the Weather Channel has gone through 6 additional names off their winter storm names list. At the moment, storms are battering the upper midwest and the south today.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:44 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


[wrong post]
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:54 AM on February 20


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