Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Extended Cold Spell

Another post (sigh...) with absolutely no motorcycle content. In fact, even if I did have a sidecar, I don't think that I would venture out. No bike maintenance as the garage is still below freezing. Plus, what's the hurry.

I hope everyone else in the U.S. is enjoying their warm winter. When it's nice and warm in the northeastern U.S., it is usually very cold up here. We've really are having an extended cold spell. In Fairbanks, we've been getting down to about -48°F but just a little ways east in North Pole, they were seeing low temperatures below -55°F. This has been one of those times when you are glad to live in the hills. This photo is sunrise and you can see the ice fog in town. Evidence of a temperature inversion is the smoke rising from a power plant on the right side of the picture. The smoke rises towards colder air and it turns down towards the ground. We are above the inversion and the temperature was 20°F warmer than in town. That's pretty significant. When it gets really cold, the weather is about the only thing folks around here talk about.

The ice fog really makes it look and feel really cold when you're down in it. This is the arctic web cam located at the local newspaper building. It is looking south towards the city of Fairbanks and the Cushman Street bridge. Needless to say, I avoid walking in town. I did manage to get out a couple of times but only walked about 10 miles for the week. Pretty pathetic. Still waiting for warmer weather to get out on the bicycle. Last Friday, I talked to a grad student with a bicycle waiting at the bus stop. She uses the bicycle on campus and to ride back to her cabin from the bus stop. It's her only means of transportation.

I did get a kick over this weather report. If you've driven the Alaska Highway, you've passed through Teslin, YT, and I don't believe that it was -97°F. Drilling down into the site you would've found out that they were counting wind chill something the web site usually doesn't report. The National Weather Service charts don't even have wind chill calculated for anything below -45°F. It must've been really cold and windy.

So far this month, over half of the days have been below -40 and they are predicting that temperatures will be dropping to the cellar later this week. I'm not sure what that means but it doesn't sound good. Maybe we'll get a "snow day" yet this winter. In the last 30 years, I only remember one "school optional" day and it was during an extended cold with temperatures dropping to -68°F. The school district was having too many bus problems.

19 comments:

Troubadour said...

Now that's cold. We are getting reports on our news stations about a fuel tanker behind an ice breaker arriving in Nome and the massive 20 feet of snow dumped on Valdez. I imagine that is just everyday occurrence for Alaska but it sure makes for sensational news stories in the lower 48.

RichardM said...

The tanker was quite a story up here as well. The fall hurricane prevented their fuel delivery so the only way to get gas or heating oil in was by plane. Gas had gone up to $12 per gallon as a result. The last time Valdez had snow like this, the boats, whose owners failed to shovel off their decks, sank at the dock.

Trobairitz said...

Brrrr friggin shiver. I cannot envy your winter.

It takes a certain resolve to endue weather that cold. It makes our paltry 22˚F and inch of snow seem like the Bahamas.

Stay warm, it will warm up soon right?

Trobairitz said...

Oh, and the sunrise is a very pretty picture too.

I forgot to put that in before I hit publish.

RichardM said...

I don't know about it warming up. It's been cold long enough that some have given up all hope of it ever warming up...

On the bright side, the lawn mower is not needed!

VStar Lady said...

Minus 40F and falling - I'm sorry, you can't drop to the cellar, you must already be there (and I complain about -25C=-13F), but that frozen fog does make for some spectacular pictures.
PS Today we went from -12C to +6C=42.8 ... rain, fog and ice. Crazy!

SonjaM said...

I am not complaining about the relatively mild winter in BC. Today we have balmy minus 4.5C (24F).
I guess we all would like to trade places with Bob on Maui now, or venture to warmer regions like New Zealand and join Roger or Geoff... Fiji comes to mind. Sigh!

redlegsrides said...

Woof....I am not sure my sidecar rig would even start without changing the oil to something like 5w15 oil and a block heater and a bigger battery and that's just to get out of the driveway! Still Hubert and his rig have done some cold riding!

Perhaps a review of his adventures to the Arctic Circle, frozen Lake Baikal and Siberia are in order while you're toasty warm by the fire?

Dom

Redleg's Rides

Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

RichardM said...

In many ways, I prefer it to be cold rather than hovering near freezing. At least we don't have any ice on the roads. In fact the roads are almost sticky at these temperatures. No sliding at all...

RichardM said...

I'm hearing a lot more grumbling than usual around here. Most folks put up with the cold weather but when it hangs around for weeks on end, it gets pretty old. Only two more weeks before my adventure to Ethiopia!

RichardM said...

Getting just about anything to start at these temperatures is a challenge. My truck has 15W40 oil and without the oil pan heater, the engine would barely turn over let alone start at these temperatures. A couple of years ago some riders came through (on two wheels) and rode up to Prudhoe Bay. They carried a car battery with them and kept it warm and charged in their hotel room every night to get their bikes started every morning. A Yamaha R1 and a BMW F800GS I think. Both with studded tires.

BeemerGirl said...

Making me feeling like I am freezing just reading your temps! And I'm sitting here at midnight, with 60F, eating ice cream.

Beautiful sunrise! At least you can see the sun more often. :)

What's this about Ethiopia?

Unknown said...

Richard:

it's too cold for any human. Today was a very pleasant 84F, T-shirt & shorts weather. I know it's snowing back home but unfortunately for us, we have to come home soon.

bob
Riding the Wet Coast

RichardM said...

In a couple of weeks, I'm headed to Ethiopia as part of a small team on a short-term mission trip. Anxious about language, customs, uncertainty, etc. but excited at the same time. Time to step out of my comfort zone?

It is nice to have a bit more daylight and I believe I read somewhere that Alaska has one of the highest per capita ice cream consumption. Higher int he winter than the summer.

Thank you for stopping by!

RichardM said...

Last Friday evening, I passed by several students (male and female) wearing beach attire and standing next to the temperature sign near the entrance to the university. They were getting their picture taken. The sign was claiming -45°F. So this must be touristy, t-shirt & shorts weather as well.

Dar said...

I won't complain about cold again! Geez how do you even stay warm? Brrrrr, I think you need to move somewhere warm!

RichardM said...

I think you actually get used to the cold temperatures. Yesterday afternoon, while walking down to the bus stop, it felt like it had warmed up so I just walked home. After getting home, I found out that it had warmed up all the way to -28F but I was actually working up a sweat. Odd...

I keep thinking of moving somewhere warmer but so far I hadn't found that place yet...

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Richard M:

There was a time in my life when I reveled in cold weather. That time has passed, I suspect. While your pictures look great, I am thrilled not to be in them. I would prefer the clouds of mosquitoes in the summer as opposed to ice fog. I was following the fuel drama in Nome last week with some interest. I knew the experts would get it figured out.

While I have camped in temperatures that hit 36º below zero, it was never that cold at high noon. I consider 18 below at high noon to be cold enough.

It snowed north of here today, but it was a high of 40º on the south Jersey shore today. It will be close to 50º tomorrow. I may go lay on the sand.

Fondest regards,
Jack/reep
Twisted Roads

RichardM said...

I think that time has passed for me as well. Even though the cold doesn't seem to bother me much, I am still looking forward to the warmer weather that will mark the return of the riding season.

Have fun in the sand...