Cold Enough

frosty window 1219

As I type this, wherever the weather station is out here at Riverwalk, the temperature is 14. Below zero. That’s Fahrenheit; if I really want to depress us, that’s -25.6 Celsius. Either way, it’s cold enough for there to be frost on the inside of every window in our house.

While it doesn’t happen as often these days as it used to, Gunnison frequently holds the title of “coldest spot in the nation,” although I kind of think these measurements disregard Alaska. Today, however, we’re a far cry from that despite our cold number: north of Walden, which is in North Park near the Wyoming border, they were getting readings of -32 (-35.6 C) this morning. Do you think we should be put out that our title might be slipping away?

I don’t think Gunnison actually used to win its title on the basis of the deep of winter, although everyone in this region should know that the one point the two temperature scales come together is at -40 (F, C), and we know this — or at least used to — through firsthand experience.

There was one year, back when we “won” the coldest title with regularity, where we had the coldest reported temperature in the Lower 48 for 93 of 365 days. That’s one-quarter of a calendar year where Gunnison was reputed to be colder than everywhere else. But I think if you went back and looked at a chart, most of those coldest days took place when other parts of the country were experiencing “spring” and/or “fall.”

Not that -14, or -20, or -40 isn’t cold. At least, I’m assuming that -14 feels cold. I haven’t made it outside yet today. The garage feels cold and it’s holding at 50, despite not being heated other than a tiny little blower up in a corner of the ceiling. I’m sure my car is much happier inside than out, and this garage is about 20 degrees warmer than Carol’s, where my car spent much of its time last winter. It seemed happy enough there; imagine how tropical 50 must feel. Even if that’s only 10 C.

Or not: this is a car that lets me know it’s “cold” outside when the temperature drops to 38. Above zero. Of course, that sounds a lot colder at 3.33 C. Why do people like the Celsius scale better?

This is, I believe, the third winter I have owned my car full of batteries that don’t love the cold, and I only connected dots about a month ago, when I finally realized that the random beep I would occasionally hear turns out to be a little cry of protest from the car that it’s cold. The beep sounds, and I get a dashboard notice that we have a “low outside temperature” of 38 or lower. Or 3.33 C, which sounds more like a reason for protest.

****

Well, I have now been outside, and I am agreement with my car: that’s a low outside temperature. It is now -1 here in town (-18.3 C sounds a lot worse), and I have been on the roof at work, clearing — or trying to — snow off the lower half of my solar panels. Usually I expose a bit of the black panel to the sun and it starts melting ice right off. But not this morning.

On the subject of melting, I am finding a garage hazard with my car that I haven’t encountered before. Perhaps you do not recall, but my wheel wells pack heavily with snow. Carol tried to warn me about this last year, when I was using her garage, but she didn’t factor in that she had turned the heat very low in her unoccupied house, which left the garage colder than usual.

So while she warned me water would melt off my wheels and perhaps freeze the garage door closed, I didn’t have much trouble. But in a 50-degree garage, I am running streams of water into every piece of cardboard on the floor. Not to mention the milk crate of extension cords, and we all know how much electricity and water love each other.

I thought I solved the problem over the weekend, by going to my new not-really-but-it-sounds-good favorite store, Tractor Supply. I had no idea what I was looking for, so I wandered, uninterrupted, aisle by aisle, looking for just the thing to solve my garage problem.

I almost didn’t go into the feed section, because what would be in there? But I did go in, and therein lay the solution to my problem: feed pans. I started to buy two rubber ones, then found cheaper metal ones, so I bought those instead. And they’re working quite well, but I think I should have gone with the rubber, because one day I’m going to forget I have these pans under my wheels and drive right over them. The rubber ones might bounce back. The metal ones will just get squashed flat.

But I only bought two, because it seemed to only be my front wheels melting all over the garage. This morning, though, without any new snow to get caught up in my wheels, the back tires leaked all over, soaking a corner of the box holding a bunch of garage implements.

It’s a process, I guess, but I’ll get it figured out. As long as the cold doesn’t give me brain freeze. Which is generally worse when measured in Celsius.

 

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