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Extreme cold memories

  • Blog Post by: Barry ZeVan
  • January 28, 2013 - 9:42 PM

NO extreme cold is good for those who either don't like cold weather or those who suffer because of it. I'm thinking of the homeless, those who can't afford to pay their heating bills and those whose cars won't start. The recent cold snaps, featuring below zero readings for a few days, with a couple more expected this week, are no big deal for those who have lived in Minnesota for any number of years. (My grand total is 35, almost half my life.)

AIR TEMPERATURE - While TV-weathering in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, at (then) CJLH-TV, Channel 7, the coldest air temparature I ever experienced was in January, 1960. It was -54. 54 degrees below zero, Fahrenheit, but with no wind. The atmospheric pressure was extremely high that morning (it most always is when cold of that ilk pervades). Little ice crystals were hanging in the air. I thought I was prepared, however, the night before, and remembering my forecast, I had plugged my car's headbolt heater into an electric socket in the garage that night, thinking the engine would be warm the following morning. Unfortunately, power went out for much of the night (which I didn't know, since it was back on when I arose). When I merrily toddled out to the garage to begin the drive to the TV station, I unplugged the headbolt heater, opened the car door, sat, then put the key in the ignition. Instead of starting immediately, the sound the engine made was barely one of recognition. It was more of a grunt than anything and opening the hood I found ice covering the engine block. The initial heat from the headbolt heater caused moisture to form on the block. So much for being prepared.

One of my TV station colleagues lived only two blocks away. I remained very bundled, a la The Michelin Man, waddled the two blocks and asked him if he'd be able to take me to work, since we worked the same shifts. He said that would be fine. HE had a little Morris Minor that sat outside. When we got into HIS car, it started up immediately. Of course! :) It took considerable warming to get my lumbering 1948 Dodge to budge, but eventually it did. (By the way, my colleague's name was, and still is, Eric Neville. After sharing announcing and weather duties with him for almost a year, we each moved on in our careers. Eric became one of the most popular children's show hosts in Canada, based in Edmonton ((POPCORN PLAYHOUSE was the title of his program)). There's another current local tie to Eric here, too: Channel 9 meteorologist Ian Leonard's father was one of the people who worked on Eric's show.)

WIND CHILL - In the winter of 1973-74, I was asked to give a weather talk at the University of Minnesota. I had forgotten my own forecast that early afternoon, parked my car in a parking garage two blocks from the classroom building, and without a topcoat or head covering, walked into a wind that was measuring -66. 66 below zero, Fahrenheit, wind chill, and blowing into my face. A hammer hitting full-force on my eyeballs would have felt gentler. When I got to the classroom. I was so numb I could hardly speak. It was great for the students, but very scary for yours truly. The talk, as it was, lasted 45 minutes, then I was back out into the cold with only a medium-weight business suit between me and that wind chill, but, echoing an old Irish saying, "the wind was at my back", so a bit easier to endure.

THIS winter's below zero temps? Nothing about which to complain, in my frozen brain's opinion.

Thanks for taking the time to read more of my geezer thoughts and remembrances here. I hope you'll also take the time to watch my SENIOR MOMENT pieces at www.startribune.com,/video, then clicking on LIFESTYLES. The subject changes every Monday, as does my attention span.

 

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