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North American snap freeze

 
pollinator
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I cannot imagine going through the sort of weather we are hearing about that is occuring at the moment.
If you have time or the ability to talk about I would appreciate your effort.
Thanks
 
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Here in sunny Texas, it was 6 F yesterday and 14 F this morning.  That is not the coldest we have seen nor is it worse than the week of ice that we had with the ice storm on Dec 31, 2020.

The cat, Tiny Kitty survived the 14 F outside last night that was her choice.

I feel for those folks that are experiencing abnormal conditions up north.

How are the temps down under?
 
pollinator
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-14 F, here two mornings ago and 50 MPH wind gusts, eek just did the conversion that's -22.5 C. It was 45 F at bedtime the night before, so a drop of almost fifty degrees overnight. At my sister's house in Denver, it fell almost seventy degrees in just a couple of hours. They were back to nearly 50 F yesterday; we were still just barely above zero.

We are sitting at 4 F above zero this morning and the wind has calmed down, great improvement. Those temperatures are not common here but also not unheard of. The freaky part is how fast it changed.

There is a web site I watch that renders the data from NASA satellites. EarthNullSchool

On the morning when we were at -14 part of the western Arctic Ocean were above freezing. The jet stream went screwy and shoved all the super cold air from up there down over North America. Right now, we are warmer than Iceland, over the water just north of Iceland is warmer still.
 
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Kind of hectic for me being in renewable power.

We got 3 inches of rain and 70 mile an hour winds putting 180,000 people without power including
Me.  My back up generator lost the field mag and I could not flash it to get it to run, so it was cold when the temp dropped to 6 degrees. It was cold in the house at 48 degrees.

Work wise. The dam held up better than we thought. We normally flow 13,000 cubic feet per second and was flowing 70,000. That brought down ice floes that jammed the intakes at 20:30 last night. That was cleared pretty quickly but there is plenty of ice still to make Christmas all about ice clearing.

But, electricity is a 24/7 industry. I have been in this long enough to know that people die at black outs so what I do does matter.
 
master gardener
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We made it down to -10f.  No real problems. I gave the livestock lots of extra bedding and feed. The Kunekunes buried down deep into the straw.  The good news is that my water line project was put in deep enough, so it didn’t freeze.  It saved me having to carry buckets of water on the snow and ice.
 
steward
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Thanks for your concern Australian John (I can't say John D or the other John D might get confused)!  I think the biggest issues are the people on the fringes.  The areas that only see this kind of cold every decade or two.  Their houses and infrastructure aren't set up for it and in the intervening time the systems forgot how rough it was the last time it happened.  I can imaging plenty of planning meetings where the following was stated: "We haven't had -10F for a decade, we'll put off that infrastructure hardening project another year, no biggie".

Keeping the grid running is the key.  People can hunker down in their houses as long as they have gas and electricity.  Unless they live so far south that they actually don't have a heat source in their house.  Driving gets tricky if you aren't used to it.  In those fringe areas a few people know how to drive on ice and a lot don't.  Many don't have good tires for ice.  Even if you know how to drive on slippery roads, the next idiot can come flying along and slide into you.  So there's a big worry about driving due to "the other guy".

Another annoying detail is if you live up north by me, when it fluctuates from cold to frigid, the worst precipitation you get is usually snow.  If you're in a warmer area you often get rain as it freezes so you get a layer of ice on everything.
 
pollinator
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The temperature swings are pretty impressive. Our lowest a couple days ago was -26C, and it's supposed to be +5 and raining tomorrow.

My friend lives several hours north of here. His lowest was -38, and he's supposed to get the same +5 tomorrow.

Luckily we didn't have the wind as badly as we might have. It was windy, but not shake the house windy, like we sometimes get in the winter.

The batteries in the vehicles were a hassle. We don't have power to run block heaters or anything, so we'd bring the batteries inside when we weren't using them to keep them warm. And we've got a 40W solar panel we can hook up to keep them topped up, if needed. Had to do that with the older battery for the car.

I actually got my dog to sleep inside! He usually refuses to stay in for more than 20 minutes or so, but three nights in a row he quite happily splayed out next to the stove and didn't make a peep. So even he has his limits.

My other dog loves her insulated house. This was the first time I've had a dog in it in temperatures this low, so I was able to see how well it works. It was -20 during the day when I went out and stuck my hand through the flap on her door. She wasn't in there at the time, but it was still noticeably warmer inside. I left a thermometer in there and went off to shovel off the roof of a shed. At some point while I was doing that she went back in her house. Twenty or twenty-five minutes later, when I was done with the roof, the thermometer read -4 in her house. Those kinds of temperatures are no problem for her, so I'm happy with how the house performs.
 
pollinator
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It's snowing again now on the Minnesota-North Dakota border, but we are on the tail end of this bomb cyclone storm and while at -17F last night, may see upper 20s by Thursday.  The most impressive video I saw from back in the eastern US was around Buffalo, NY where high wind-gusts in the 80 mph were recorded during peak blizzard.  Basically, it looked like a hurricane with heavy snow.....and some reports of rivers rising/flooding starting to filter in.  A bit unsettling to think this is all *before* the new year with 3 more months of winter weather to go! :-/
 
pollinator
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Location: Carlton County, Minnesota, USA: 3b; Dfb; sandy loam; in the woods
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It's been cold here, but not as cold as it gets; minus twenty-something at the worst. It's sitting at zero right now for the first time in three weeks and it's supposed to peek into positive territory. Next week's warm-snap will be a mess, but it'll be nice shoveling the deck in bare feet. The two feet of snow in one week is much more exceptional than the cold and I'm going to have a lot of downed trees to clean up in the spring.

(ETA: merry Christmas to those who celebrate!)
 
author & steward
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It's been a mild winter for me. The cold blast landed several hundred miles east of me. Plenty of snow, and temperatures in the 20s most days. A typical winter.

Greens are growing in the unheated greenhouse. Mallow, bok choi, spinach, lettuce, onions.

winter-greens-in-unheated-greenhouse.jpg
winter greens in unheated greenhouse
winter greens in unheated greenhouse
 
gardener
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It got down to -42 C here, but now it's quite warm at -4, just a few days later.  It had been -28 to minus 42 for almost two weeks.  When everybody else got the cold snap we had been sitting in somekind of upside down vortex of ice wind for many days already.  It's been a colder than normal start to winter for us, with a pretty unrelenting cold snap that started to wear on the psyche a bit; because it happened so early and lasted so long.  The coldest part of winter for me so far was how it started.  We'd had a really unseasonably warm fall, and then within a week of gardening in a T-shirt and watching bumble bees on Thyme flowers, it was -15.  That was the hard part for me.  The transition.  It often is, but this year it was particularly so.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Around these parts some of us celebrate it.  Here's a link to Prince George Coldsnap Festival  and here is Medicine Hat's Tongue On The Pole Festival
 
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Location: Boise, Idaho
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Reading all these posts was interesting, here in Southern Idaho we have had cold but not as cold as our Canadian neighbors to the North. Ice storm last evening, and now is about 32 degrees F, with hopes it gets into the 40's F this week.
 
John C Daley
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Thanks for the posts, I find it fascinating.
In Bendigo we had a mild +34 C, no clouds in the sky, no breeze. Ideal for soaking the heat in and getting sunburnt like a lobster.
Jan, I can see the importance of a comfy dog house, in case you get sent there also.
I have spent time in Canada, was shocked to see 'block ' heaters and stories of lugging batteries into the house.
I love the town name of 'Medicine Hat, I have been there.
Ice flows on a hydro dam , that would be tricky.
 
pollinator
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Hasn't been too bad for me. Day time lows of minus 8c but probably -25C with windchill.  I keep my cattle outside . Have done so for years no issues as long as they have lots of hay to eat.

Yesterday was kinda scary for me. I heat with wood with non air tight stove. I always have excellent draft in my chimney. But the high winds I had here acted like a bellows.  Stove damper was fully closed but you would never know it. Stove was glowing red! The cement floor it sits on burned my feet! Wood I had brought in to dry 2 feet away was scorched! I nearly burn house down.

In my 12 years of heating with wood this has never happened before. I will install a chimney damper next month and probably not run stove in high winds again.

Word to the wise.
 
Mark Reed
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Jeff Marchand wrote:Hasn't been too bad for me. Day time lows of minus 8c but probably -25C with windchill.  I keep my cattle outside . Have done so for years no issues as long as they have lots of hay to eat.

Yesterday was kinda scary for me. I heat with wood with non air tight stove. I always have excellent draft in my chimney. But the high winds I had here acted like a bellows.  Stove damper was fully closed but you would never know it. Stove was glowing red! The cement floor it sits on burned my feet! Wood I had brought in to dry 2 feet away was scorched! I nearly burn house down.



Hundreds of miles south of you, on the first day we had a daytime high of -24C, and windchill of -40C. An actual temperature of zero C isn't predicted for another day or two, but it was -8 yesterday with sunshine and felt great! Right now, at 8:00 AM it's -11C and no wind. I'm being optimistic and thinking we might see zero today.

I have a vegetable breeding project ongoing that in the last few years has shrugged off brief periods of -10C. Jury is still out on how it handled -24C but with some snow cover I'm hopeful some survived.

Wood stoves can go a little screwy in very cold temps with strong wind, especially with shifting direction and gusts.
 
John C Daley
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With regard to wood fires, wind and chimney, can revolving tops prevent to wind blowing down the flue?
 
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Not to sound like an old guy, but I am. Here in N. Ohio, it only got down to -5F, with wind chills of -24F or so. That's not really cold compared to what we had when I was young. Years ago, it was common to get to -20F, actual temp., for any number of days in any given winter. In '77/'78 there were three cars buried over their roofs for three days out front of our house, before we could dig them out. Winter was fun then. We actually got some days when we could justify not working outside. Now it hardly ever gets cold anymore and we don't get that much snow, so we work out every day. I miss those little "vacations".

I think maybe the difference then was getting cold in winter was expected, so we prepared. Now it doesn't get all that cold, so most folks don't get prepared. and then when we get a little cold snap like this past week, they have problems. -But we do as we have always done, prepare for the worst. We never run out of water, food, firewood, heat. Because 70 years ago we knew not to run out of any of that, and we just keep doing the same now. I reckon folks would be better off now if they did also.
 
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Kind if rough in MT, came down from about 10f to -40f with -60 windchill . Most of my friends cars wouldn't start and mine wouldn't either. Made me come to a realization that I passionately wish i could live a life without cars. Love the cold though.  Our power went out already 3 times this winter but thankfully it stayed on during the cold snap. Can't wait to be on our own power someday. Life pretty much came to a quiet halt in our small town for a day until it warmed up to the upper negatives.
 
Anne Miller
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Tessa, I feel for you.  

So sorry the cars will not start.  You might look into an engine block heater.

That is like a heating pad for your engine and depending on which one you buy is less than $25.00.

In case of an emergency you will be glad you have one:

https://www.amazon.com/ABN-Silicone-Heater-Battery-Engine/dp/B07N41RC1K/ref=sr_1_3
 
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We will lose a lot of bushes and trees in Nashville. I see so much brown all around my yard that normally remains green all winter.  Leaves are falling as if these plants were deciduous. It is sad to lose mature plantings.  Recommendations here are to wait to prune, wait and see if some of these brown evergreens will put out leaves and needles.
 
John C Daley
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Why do the trees etc go brown?
What is knocking them around?
 
John F Dean
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Hi Tessa,

In my last year in MN, some of my neighbors began putting a cheap electric blanket under the hood of their vehicle.  The theory was this would impact the engine, coolant, and battery.  Short term, they seemed to do ok. I have no idea what the long term safety issues were. Also, I never saw them put to a real test cold weather wise …though they functioned at -20f.  My lack of confidence was that I never tried it.  I have seen too many home spun approaches resulting in a vehicle fire.
 
pollinator
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John C Daley wrote:Why do the trees etc go brown?
What is knocking them around?



It’s the cold. In the Southern part of the U.S., like Tennessee, we can grow many wonderful broadleaf evergreens like a wide variety of magnolias, azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias etc.  They are hardy enough to keep their leaves and survive temperatures a bit below freezing, but if you get truly frigid weather or long stretches of say, colder than 20 Fahrenheit, the plant will suffer damage from the cold. That’s why many of these can’t be grown reliably in the northern part of the country.
 
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