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Sunday, February 19, 2006

February Chill

It’s actually not all that uncommon for a warmer-than-average month to be followed by a colder-than-average month. It’s all part of nature’s way of balancing everything out.

Though February in Minnesota has not been as cold as January was warm, the weather has taken on a more “normal” appearance, drastically differentiating itself from January. In Brainerd, February has had almost exactly normal temperatures.

In Grand Forks’ case, however, February has so far been quite cold; whereas January was 16 degrees above normal, February has so far been 7 degrees below normal. Case in point, the temperatures of the last few days:

Tuesday, February 14 – High 33°F, Low -18°F
Wednesday, February 15 – High 8°F, Low -21°F
Thursday, February 16 – High -5°F, Low -23°F
Friday, February 17 – High -10°F, Low -26°F
Saturday, February 18- High 10°F, Low -20°F

Friday, with its high of -10°F, was by far the coldest day I’ve experienced in Grand Forks since moving here. The cold temperatures were accompanied by very strong winds that produced very cold wind chills – probably some of the coldest I’ve ever been outside in. All through Thursday afternoon and night the winds howled from the northwest at about 20-30 mph. Combined with the air temperatures that were already in the teens below zero, the entire Red River Valley experienced dangerous wind chills in the -40°F to -60°F range. By Friday, the winds had lifted somewhat, but, still, when I went out at 10AM, the air temperature was -21°F, the wind was blowing from the west at 15 mph, and the wind chill was -46°F. It was thrilling for me to finally be able to experience some true North Dakota winter chilliness.

Here are some pictures I took:
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When the coldest of the cold air arrived in Grand Forks, it started to snow and freezig fog began to form. In this picture, the air temperature was -9°F and the wind chill was -38°F.

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With the wind blowing right in my face in this photo, it was a really cold walk back to my dorm. Shortly after I took this photo (with my old camera), the gear to make the lens zoom in and out froze up. I had to wait until it warmed back up to room temperature for it to work correctly again.

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I really like how the matter that comes spewing out of smokestacks looks in really cold weather. Here, you can see the water vapor coming out of the steam plant at 10:30 PM. The air temperature when I took this photo was -16°F; the wind chill was -41°F (or -41°C). Incidentally, after I took this photo, I tried to go into an academic hall next door to warm up. Unfortunately, all of the doors were locked. Even more unfortunate, however, was the fact that I inadvertently took my glove off to open the door and ended up touching a very cold aluminum handle. My fingers immediately became numb, painful, and frozen feeling. I had to rush over to the one place I knew was open – the library – to warm them up. Luckily, it didn’t take all that long for the feeling to return, and I’m pleased to say I didn’t suffer any damage.

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Here is another picture of the cloud of steam, but this time you can see the full moon that was outside at the time. At 11:30 PM when this photo was taken, the air temperature was -18°F, while the wind chill was -44°F.

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The temperature sensor I have outside my window registered -22°F sometime on Friday morning.

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If your window isn't shut during extremely cold weather, the water pipes tend to freeze.

4 Comments:

Anonymous katja said...

Although I'm a Minnesotan, you have no idea how odd it is for me to hear about the -40+ windshield temps. This is hard to expalain, but it's so odd to imagine myself getting into a frozen car in the morning and sujecting myself to such freezing temperatures. I also remeber how I was constantly cold during the winter and the only time I was warm was when I was snuggled in my bed. Now that I'm here, in low 50-60 degree temps, and think it's rather cool when it dips in the low 50's or high 40's(and I wear my pea coat when it's in the 50's) and I don't walk around constantly cold, etc. etc. I wonder to myself how I will manage when I go back and experience a cold winter again... I know I will, it's just, getting into a frozen car is painful... gosh, I've become so weak. hahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Mon Feb 20, 03:47:00 PM CST  
Anonymous katja said...

Now I have to decide which picture I want to use as the computer background. I really like the one with the full moon.

Mon Feb 20, 03:55:00 PM CST  
Blogger Mitch said...

I would imagine I would be the same way if I had gotten used to living in such a warmer climate over the past 6 months or so. It's always amazing how different the same temperature can feel in different times of the year if you've become accustomed to either warm or cold for a period of time. Compare how warm the first 40°F high in March feels to how cold the first 40°F high in October feels.

Mon Feb 20, 05:28:00 PM CST  
Anonymous katja said...

I know, I've always been amused by it as well.

Tue Feb 21, 08:33:00 AM CST  

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The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of Mitch Wahlsten and the participants
Mitch's Blog began on December 23, 2001