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Tuesday, 07 January 2014


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But it's summer at the South Pole...

I did the conversion. Minus 28 degrees Celcius at the TOP Headquarters! A balmy 22 degrees below at the South Pole; a bit further below freezing as print developer should be above!

I bet now you wish you didn't choose an extinct volcano for your headquarters. Expect several thousand penguins to arrive soon, all grumbling about global warming! : ]

Brrr ! We hit -13 Friday night in our little corner of CT (the coldest I can recall). It was -7 when we got home late at night from relatives and I told my daughter to just hang out for a minute and experience it before going in. (Her tween reply: "It doesn't feel that cold").
We're just barely in UDSA Zone 5b which says our annual extreme low is -10 to -15, but even so it's pretty rare. On the plus side, we just invested in some insulation this past spring (blown in the attic, rigid foil-backed to seal off dormer spaces, and foam in the basement along the sill plates) and now at least our house stays at 68 instead of dropping into the low 60s when it gets below zero. (It also stayed cooler all summer with the a/c running less).

I made a decision to move back east from Madison, Wisconsin in 1977 after the wind chill hit 63 below one day. No thanks.

Hi Mike,
Some maps and graphs which might be of interest;
best wishes phil

Of course, you realize that it's summer in Antarctica right now. Perhaps a better reference would be a balmy Barrow AK, at -9F as I type this.

Here in Toronto, Monday night was very cold (-24C, about -11F) but also very windy. In Canada, weather reports routinely report the "wind chill", which tries to approximate what the temperature feels like as a result of the wind. So you'll get reports like "it's minus 24 out, but with the wind chill it feels like minus 38".

The old system actually reported wind chill in watts per square meter (how much heat power swept away from your exposed skin due to the wind). For those comfortable with numbers, these can be sobering. On windy days, wind-chills of 3,000 watts per square meter are not uncommon.

I just did a quick check of temperatures for the US on weatherspark.com. A large portion of the lower 48 is colder than southern of Alaska.

Ed, that's often true thanks to the ocean next to Southeast Alaska. Here in Juneau it's 37F. Rained all night. Many people would rather have it a little colder instead of our current rain on snow, but not -20, since that is frozen pipes weather and some houses aren't prepared for that. That's getting close to Fairbanks weather! One of the more fun photo things to do here in winter is walk across the lake to take pictures in the ice caves at the base of our glacier, but the ice is not so safe now.

Basically, if we have low pressure the lower 48 has high pressure, and vice versa, summer and winter.

Mike, what is your primary house heating system, and do you have a back up system in case it fails?

[It's a forced-air, natural gas fired furnace--a good one, and kept in good repair with annual maintenance. I do have a backup--head to the neighbors' or a friend's house! (But no on site back up.)

I thought at one point about getting a pellet stove for the basement. I could tie it right in to the chimney for ventilation, and theoretically I could heat the whole house by heating the basement--there's no insulation between the two. The house is only 40x25 feet overall. It would at least radically cut down my heating bill. But better windows would probably be a better investment on that score. --Mike]

and people here in South Florida are complaining because they say it's cold...58F / 14C!

I can't contemplate temperatures at the level you are describing. The idea of having to put all those clothes on to go out and take photos is just too horrible.
Down here in Fremantle, Western Australia we have a weekend forecast of 40 Celcius (104F), not completely comfortable but much easier to live with and needing a much smaller clothing budget.
How do you guys manage to take photos with heavy gloves, especially with all those tiny buttons now on most cameras?

A foot of snow two days ago, -14 F. in Detroit last night...and this coming Saturday rain is predicted.

Could be worse, I hear it's colder in Wisconsin than at the South Pole... :-)

Great chance to learn post processing - too cold to go outside and shoot.

My first ever sojourn to the US on business was to Minnesota in January 1986. I was not very good at translating F to C so I did not appreciate what -20F and -48F wind-chill meant.

Please note, the lowest recorded temperature in London in my lifetime was 3F (-16C)in 1962 (it reached -14C in 2010).

Today it was +10C (50F). Usually the coldest month is February though. Plenty of time.

A balmy 29C yesterday Mike, and forecast for 41C on Saturday, here in beautiful Perth, Western Australia, where the weather is unrelentingly fine. Aaaah, cold shower every morning, cool tiles under my bare feet, a bit of aircon when needed.

Mind you, hottest year on record in Oz last year, topping previous records almost every year. Global warming is here, folks, coming faster than predicted. We're desiccating here in WA.

One effect of all this sun, btw, (to keep me a little bit on topic), is that the light is actually a bit boring for photography. Hard glare. Crystal clear air. Oh well, can't have it all.

It has been very, very cold here (Chicago), indeed. (Same weather as Waukesha, WI.)

As a younger man I was fond of dead-of-winter backpacking expeditions. But for the life of me, as a not-so-younger man today I have no idea why...or how I endured. Brrrr.

A number of years ago during a visit to Banff my wife and I discovered (the hard way, but NOT backpacking) that -40 deg. was where the F and C scales coincided. The experience of breathing air that cold, of feeling that air touch my skin and make my normally flexible coat brittle was something I'll never forget. So compared to that memory -15F seems "very chilly".

To add to Jordon's comment, it was colder in the greater Toronto area this Tuesday morning
January 7 with the wind chill factor than
it was in Antarctica! Keep in mind too we in Canada are on the metric system
weather reporting as well. For temperature it is much more specifically accurate as well. Maybe one day in 2000 or 3000 years the uSA may also see the light and go metric...

Just for the record, at 9PM EST:
Anchorage AK: 26ºF
Juneau AK: 37ºF
Fairbanks AK: 10ºF

Picky,picky picky!

Bill (Sarasota, Florida)

When I was growing up in upstate New York in the early 50s we often experienced similar winter temperatures. The pipe from our well froze one of those times so I was fairly used to cold like that. But during the winter of 1957-8 when I was at Clarkson College in Potsdam, NY I learned what real cold can be like. During one week it never got above 35 below and two nights it hit minus 50. The ice on the window sill was 3" deep - on the inside! The mile-plus walk to classes was, to put it mildly, invigorating - something I wouldn't care to experience now. But the Northern Lights that entire week were absolutely stupendous.

In Calgary on Sunday it was -25.5C (air temp, not wind chill);
by yesterday (Monday) it was +3.4 C (though at my house closer to +8C) Its amazing how a slight change in the jet stream can swing temps so wildly here - a 30C difference in 24 hours!

Ken Tanaka - I was working in Banff when we had those temps. Try getting on a snowmobile at -44C! Next time here, stop in and say hi!

The question about gloves and buttons brings to mind Mike's thoughts about the Nikon Df. My experience taking photos at cold temps probably explains my love of direct dial controls. It used to be easy to change shutter dial, aperture and focus with bulky gloves on my film cameras. Simple, rugged mechanics were preferred over complex but fully featured. I haven't handled the Df but if it can be set up to be operated without using any buttons then it may have a value for cold weather photography.


The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that right now, at 2pm in Western Australia this Wednesday in an area called the Pilbara, it might possibly top 50ºC (which would be 122ºF).
I once had a Nikon D700 perform very unusually when I was photographing a couple in 47ºC. It kept "fainting", turning itself off. Nikon Australia said they'd never heard anything like this before and that it should keep shooting in such conditions but the camera never did that before or after.

Mike, you are an international star. And you still use Fahrenheit ? Time to join the world. Even Obama says "meters"! From now on, please Celcius.

Only the US and a handful of tiny countries still cling to the Fahrenheit system. Switching from F to C is actually pretty easy to get used to, unlike with lengths and weights.

You might have enjoyed tonight's weather report on TV here in Australia. Top temp was, I think, 48.6 C, and the bottom was -1 degree in the Snowy Mountains. I don't know if there is another country that could say that about the same day, but I'm sure the TOP brains trust will get working.
Best of the NYr to you and all the Topsters.

When in your last post you said it is -30 C I thought you just be typing -30 F. It is -48 C in some northern part of US/Canada.


Stay warm guys!

Winter eliminates insects and street crime.

I was wondering where the winter had gone.

In Oslo, it is around +4 C (~40F) ...

you could always use the Yahoo weather app fot the iPad, and believe the °C value. In their conversion they converted the absolute value of the temperature; e.g. here in Madison they had said wind chill temperatures aproaching -50°F (10°C). Made it feel like shorts weather.

"I went out in it for a while in my shirtsleeves, just to experience what it was like. "

Conjures images of Mike as that Mountain Man in the Dr. Pepper commercial they keep playing during football games: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDCY56azew8

Speaking of which, the last 7 days of football (college and pro combined) may be the best I've ever seen.

My extreme temperature memories are of two weekends in Chicago's western 'burbs during the winter of 1982 when temperatures dropped to -26F/-32C at night. Like you, I went outside on those very cold nights just to see what it felt like - BUT I wore a down parka, not shirtsleeves!

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