Wednesday, February 1, 2012
What do we do when it's -50
A reader asked what we do when it's this cold and do the kids still have school? So for lack of anything else to post, I decided to make a post out of it.
Mostly life goes on as usual. We still work, because it can be super cold for weeks. Yes the kids still go to school. School has only closed twice in the 13 years I've lived here, both were for freezing rain. I think we may be the only place that closes for rain and never for snow or cold! The biggest problems in the extreme cold is we get a layer of ice fog over the city, the colder it is the worse it is. The coldest days were on Saturday and Sunday, and the ice fog was really severe. I have heard that in the 70's the ice fog was so bad they did close schools, so maybe if it hadn't improved during the week they could have closed. The theory is that parents will still need to go to work, leaving children home alone in potentially deadly weather conditions if they were to venture outside when they shouldn't, so it's generally considered safer to have them go. When it's colder than -20, they do stay inside for recess.
Cars don't like this super cold. I don't think I would drive long distances in it. I've heard stories of people pumping gas in the -50 and the hose breaking over the weekend. We have so many frozen cars waiting to be towed is a long wait. Cars can freeze even though they are plugged with block, battery and oil pan heaters in cold like that. Fan belts snap, hoses break, etc... Both of our cars actually overheated in the -50, we think because the lines were freezing and not circulating like they should. Homes and workplaces have outlets for their employees, but when you are out and about grocery shopping for example, there isn't a way to plug in. When it was -50 we started the car about every 1-1.5 hours while we were out. We did go to dinner and a movie to celebrate our anniversary and the restaurant was full. So life just goes on.
We burn wood and have an oil boiler. However we did burn 250 gallons of oil in 2 weeks which is the most we've ever used, we are also going through much more firewood than usual (we also had a record setting cold spell in November too) The house generally stays warm, and is very comfortable. The dogs need to stay in a lot more and are constantly underfoot driving me crazy. We kept the rabbits and chickens warm with just a heat lamp in their coop. The coldest it got in there was 35 degrees.
So that's what we do when it's -50 outside. We also take tropical vacations, Hawaii is easy to get to and extremely popular destination for Alaskans in January and February.