"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer

16.1.09

Thanks, Alaska

It may not surprise you, if you already don't realize, that the bone-numbing, teeth-shattering cold you probably at this moment are steeling yourself to venture out into, came down to us from Alaska - the weather system responsible for those poor souls' previous 2 weeks of misery. It didn't get above -20 degrees in my normally temperate hometown of Anchorage. Fairbanks was lucky to see -40 below.

As extreme as this may seem however, it's fairly normal. At least once a year, a low-pressure zone plops itself down over the state and sits for a least a week. Freezing pipes, taking fingers, toes, noses, earlobes, forcing people to leave their cars running while they run into the grocery store. The city doesn't stop, though. The power plant and gas company needs to keep working so people can stay warm, restaurants continue to serve food so people can eat, and schools stay open so kids can learn.

I remember at least once a year we'd get a week where we would be forced to walk or wait for the bus to school in -25 degree temps. Every square inch of skin covered, our faces hidden beneath our fur-lined hoods. No conversation at all. Just icy breathing.

In fact, school was canceled exactly twice (three if you count the eruption of Mt. St. Augustine in 1986, due to ash)in the 12 years I went to public school up there. The first cancellation was called because the outside temperature was no more than -50. Later, in Jr. High, we received over three feet of snow overnight in March, on the heels of a mild winter. Almost all of the previous snowfall had melted and we felt we were well on our way to an early spring. That morning, a bus flipped over, classes were canceled, and we spent the day digging out cars on our street for $10 a pop.

So, in the end, it ain't all that bad for us here...but 15 below is still 15 below.

And Alaska can keep it.

1 comment:

Jeff said...

When I lived in Alaska (not too far from Anchorage), the coldest I ever saw was 39 below (that's without windchill).

We even had a heated garage for the cars so they would start in the morning.

I left in May of 1989 and have not been back since.