It’s hard to take a picture of hot, but stare into that for a few minutes and you’ll get a sense of what 26º feels like. I went to get lunch at a food truck again today, and there were definitely fewer pedestrians walking around in the sun today compared to the other day when it was 17º. Though there were a lot of other people getting food truck too, the people who sat around and ate it were mostly under umbrellas or otherwise in the shade. It got uncomfortably warm pretty quickly just sitting there with nothing over your head. Definitely no hoody required today.
I should probably feel guilty for writing this post. It’s 2º and blizzarding in Philadelphia, but that’s not where I’m at. I’m in Austin this week, where today I experienced 17º for the first time in months. The past few days it’s been more like it has been back East, with freezing drizzle a few days, which made Austin seem pretty sad and empty. But it turns out that when it hits about 17º, people come back outside (in Texas, anyway). It’s an awesome temperature to eat at a food truck and sit outside to get some work done. In fact I’m WFP (Working From Porch) right now. It’s breezy, so a light hoody’s not a bad idea, but it’s definitely not chilly anymore. Combined with pretty low humidity, I can see why this is basically an amazing temperature to get outside.
So the fact that it can even snow at 1º is funny, given that 0º is the freezing point of water. But while it might be 1º on the ground, it’s colder in the sky. So it snows, but not like when it’s -5º or -10º. When it’s that cold, you get this nice powdery snow that glistens. When it snows at 1º, you get this.
It’s a slushtastrophe. It’s wet, heavy. Waterlogged. It almost instantly gets into a state where it looks like it’s been sitting around for three days. The flakes are huge, heavy with semifrozen liquid.
There’s not a lot of difference between -15° and -16°. You don’t really get as much, if any, of the freezing nostril thing at -15°. Otherwise, it’s still pretty damn cold. But something I have been noticing with the snowstorms we’ve gotten thanks to the still-absurdly-named polar vortex is that the mornings after, the snow is still pretty much covering the roads. It’s not slushy yet, you can barely see any black, if you can see through it at all.
Basically, salt doesn’t work at temperatures this low. A guy from PA’s department of transportation says:
“‘Shoveling is not a pleasant exercise when wind chills are below zero, and road salt becomes less effective in pavement temperatures below [-9.5º*]’, said Nick Martino, a PennDot maintenance manager.”
* Temperature changed to C. Come on.
Wind at this temperature still sucks. Fact.
I am a vain man. I don’t like hats. They mess up my hair, so I almost never wear them. Walking to the train station the other day though, I discovered a temperature where fear of necrosis trumps vanity. At -11º, any bare skin is pretty much a candidate for an early death.
I was actually pretty surprised at how different covered vs. non-covered skin felt at this temperature. Since I usually don’t wear hats, my ears are always exposed to whatever’s going on. After a few minutes of walking in the cold this morning, I thought I actually might lose feeling in my ears if I didn’t put my hood up.
Moving on to other body parts, I have these very warm gloves I bought at the Philly Christmas market a few years ago. Because of the velcro on my wallet, the fabric on the left hand glove’s thumb is pulling away. This morning, when for a second my thumb slipped through the fabric, it was almost instantaneously like, holy shit, this bitch is cold.
So, here’s your lesson for -11º: wear some shit.
This apparently also happens at -11º.
So it was cold today. Like awesomely cold; I was literally in some awe of how cold it was. Apparently a large swath of the United States was caught in a polar vortex, which seems to be a real thing despite sounding like a Star Trek episode name. Basically a lot of places were colder than usual. I hear they even canceled school in Florida. I guess they don’t know what to do with cold weather in January down there.
I love winter and the cold, so I was looking forward to feeling some of the coldest temperatures I’ve felt in a while. Today definitely delivered. I got to feel a temperature I probably won’t get to feel for a long time: -16º.
Apparently something magical happens at this temperature. Obviously when you step outside you immediately feel cold, but when you start to breathe, you feel something amazing. You can feel the moisture around your nostrils crystalizing a little. It’s like a small treat the world has given you, especially if you’ve never experienced it before. I’m sure other things happen too, but this is what I most noticed. That and how fucking cold it was.