I have to say it feels pretty good to write about the cold on a day like today. Outside our house, it’s about 80°F with 70% humidity and bright sunshine, which means we might have storms firing up again tonight. At 3am this morning, we scampered to the basement, accompanied by the sonorous strains of the tornado siren in harmony with the sound of a freight train (which happily turned out to be just powerful straight-line winds). The only mess to clean up is some branches in the back and the neighbors’ garbage strewn all over the lawn (storms right before trash pickup are the worst!).
Where was I? Oh yeah, the cold. It gets pretty cold here in the heartland, and some of the temperature swings in the winter are downright crazy. For example, back on March 2, 2008, our noon-time temperature was 60°F. By 6pm, it was just 10 above and we finished the evening below 0…a nearly 70 degree swing in less than 12 hours!!
But I didn’t sit down to right about our weather or even wild weather (though I’ve succeeded at doing both), I wanted to write about cold weather. I was poking around Wikipedia a while back, looking for “filler” material, and I found this: on July 21, 1983, the lowest recorded temperature on earth was measured at Vostok Station, a Russian research station in Antarctica. And how low was that temperature? A very chilly -128.6°F.
During the summer time…well, there really is no summer at Vostok, because the temperature almost never rises above 0°F (the warmest recorded temperature at Vostok was a balmy +10°F). But during the “warmer” time, temperatures average about -25°F…so still bitterly cold. Where I live, the record lows have only touched that level once or twice.
All of which serves only to make me feel like a wuss for griping about the winters here.
The research done at Vostok involves drilling ice cores. Scientists dig thousands of feet into the ice and remove cross sections of ice. Using these samples, they try to determine climate conditions from way back and how it’s changed over time. Honestly, I don’t find ice cores very interesting, but -130°F seems so incredibly cold…
Recommended Activity: For just a small taste of what Vostok is like, eat a Klondike Bar. These triple-chocolate fudge ones are simply delicious, and eating just one makes you glad for the cold.