Temperatures have been ranging from -15 to near +50 degrees leaving the tree buds and limbs alternately coated with ice and snow. When the sun illuminates them, the frozen water droplets seem almost as iridescent as pearls.
“I know I shouldn’t do this, I know I shouldn’t say this.” I announced to my co-workers when I walked in one morning earlier this week holding a piece of ice in my hand.
“Think of what an 80 degree day feels like. Now think of how different from that a 40 degree day feels. Point being, a temperature differential of 40 degrees is significant. ”
“I did some math just now and realized that the piece of ice in my hand at 32 degrees, is more than 40 degrees warmer than the current air temperature of – 15.” They smirked, shook their heads, and continued to layer up.
We bundled up and got on the chairlift. By the time I reached the top, the half inch gap between my goggles and hood had let enough air on my cheeks to cause them to burn. I had felt this before, and knew that if left exposed, my skin would soon freeze.
I added my face mask to all my other layers, and set to morning chores.
The weather station on top of the mountain reported -12 air temperature – warmer than the valleys. With the wind sensor frozen, we estimated a 15-20 mph wind consistent with current weather reports.
Soon word came down that given the combination of ice, cold, wind and bad roads, we would close for the day. So, we undid the chores done so far, packed up, and enjoyed the day from inside the home.
Once there, curiosity got the best of me, so I looked up and found that a 20 mph wind with -12 air temperature resulted in a -37 degree wind chill. The National Weather Service calculates under these conditions, exposed flesh will freeze in less than 10 minutes. My chairlift ride seemed to confirm this.
We had eaten a good breakfast, and layered up in warm technical clothing. Though with preparation, caution and mindfulness we could have stayed outside, it was a nice day to enjoy from the warm side of the windows.