Tuesday, November 12, 2013

People are whining about how cold it is in D.C. today. Lemme tell you what cold is:

In 1986, when I was in college in Seattle, they had some snow. Snow in Seattle is rather unusual, since the temperature rarely goes below 50F even in the dead of winter. The snow quickly melted when it hit the ground, and there were all sorts of accidents. A school bus overturned. An accident on Floating Bridge clogged traffic on I-90 for hours and hours. Cars were skidding up and down the streets of Queen Anne.

What a disaster, right? So I put on a windbreaker. After all, it was kind of wet, and there was a light breeze, and the temperature was about 50F.

But it was also winter break, and I was due to fly out of Sea-Tac for Great Falls, Montana.

When I arrived in Great Falls, the daytime temperature was a balmy -20F. That's right: TWENTY degrees below zero. With a nice, stiff breeze that brought the wind chill down to about -40F below. That's right, FORTY BELOW.

At night, the temperature plummeted to a whopping -40F. My friend Deon was working at the Twilight Theater on the far side of town. They told him to go change the sign outside. In a 15 mph wind, he had to stand on a ladder and make movie names.

It was so cold that your eyes watered, because the outer layer of your eyeball was literally freezing. The water ran down your cheek -- and froze. If your nose ran and you sniffed, your nostrils would freeze together. At night, there would be ice crystals in the air and you could see them dancing under the streetlights like some sort of supernatural entity.

It was so cold, that exposed skin could get frostbite in just a few minutes. Every part of you had to be covered, and people walked around with scarves around their faces and ski-masks on.

It stayed this way for about two weeks. With about a foot of snow on the ground.

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