Is writing about the weather a sign that a blogger has hit rock bottom? If so, I’ve reached this nadir with dizzying speed.
Still, it can’t be helped. Every weather forecasting outfit in the US is warning of a possibly record-breaking arctic blast this week for those of us lucky enough to live in the Great White North. [And this time, if they’re wrong, the meteorologists can’t hide behind their “competing models” excuse. All the models agree. (I have a lot of unresolved anger issues toward meteorologists.)] By Great White North I mean the upper Midwest, and by arctic blast I mean waking up to -24° F. Since practically the entire rest of the world uses the Celsius scale, that’s -31° C. (It’s also 242 Kelvin, if you really want to know.)
And that’s just air temperature. It doesn’t even take into account wind chills. Factor in wind speed and it will feel like -50° F (-45° C; 227 Kelvin) on exposed skin.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: every teacher I know (and since I’m a teacher married to a teacher, I know LOTS of teachers) is crossing their soon-to-be-frostbitten fingers and toes that school will be cancelled midweek. In fact, I’m pretty much obsessing about it. If school is called off, you can bet there will be a blog post about it, so you may have that to look forward to. 😉
If you’re not experienced with barbarically low temperatures and they sound absolutely horrifying to you, allow me to validate your suspicions: they are. Except for the possibility of getting paid to stay home for a day, there’s really very little that’s good about temperatures this extreme. Even if we had a decent amount of snow, which, worryingly, we don’t, you can’t exactly go skiing in these conditions. Also, this past week, which was very cold but not record-breaking cold, I heard several loud popping sounds overnight. It happens every winter during the deep freeze. It sounds like a gunshot, but it’s something on the roof, like a shingle cracking or something. (The husband just told me it’s the wood grain of the roof beams splitting.) Either way, in addition to the shock of being jolted awake in the middle of the night, that just can’t be good for the house. Oh, and don’t even get me started on black ice…
Furthermore, forays outside will inevitably occur, despite the dangerous cold. You may run out of pantry staples, for example. And even if you’re willing to subsist on the pumpkin seeds and stale cracker crumbs you found in the back of your cupboard in order to avoid a grocery run, school will eventually resume and you will have to go, even though your classroom will be half empty since parents can elect to keep their kids home during deep freezes without the black stain of an unexcused absence. Or worse, you have a job that doesn’t permit weather-related closings or allow for the possibility of working from home. These eventualities will necessitate a state of sartorial preparation that is both time-consuming and cumbersome, with a final result that is downright ugly:
If, like me, you are about to be a victim of this polar vortex, my official Travel Architect recommendation is to get out of town. NOW! Head south until next Saturday, when it will be a balmy 30°F (-1°C; 272 Kelvin). (It’s amazing how tropical 30° can feel after a polar plunge.)
But if, like me, getting out of town is not a viable option, you’ll be glad to know that this past summer I had the good sense and foresight to remember that warm, sunny days don’t last, and I acted accordingly, collecting photographic evidence of what will eventually come around if we can make it through the cold of winter. That is to say, I took pictures of the flowers in my yard to stare at during the polar vortex. I will add them below so you can stare at them, too.
Ok, I can feel the effects already.
Mmmm, getting warmer.
Ok, yes. Now I remember what warmth feels like.
Granted, it’s no substitution for a tropical vacation, but it’s the best I’ve got. Stay warm everyone!
Thursday, January 31 update: After getting a snow day called on Monday (miscalled, actually – there was only 3-4″ of snow, but who am I to complain?), the mercury began to fall precipitously, and school districts for miles around called off Tuesday and Wednesday and eventually, Thursday. I felt only the smallest bit of cabin fever on Tuesday, but I weathered it with skill and grace, going on a donut run before it got too too cold, and then a bookstore run to surround myself with travel books. Today it has risen to a balmy -9° F (-22° C, 250 K), so I think we can safely bid Polar Vortex 2019 adieu. Until next time Mother Nature, you sadist.