Cold is a Relative Thing and Making Things Up (Video)

Winter weather in Alberta is an exercise in relativity. When the temperature  first dips to just below freezing (-1C or 30F), it feels cold – but it feels warm compared to the day when it gets down to -10C (-14F). Inevitably, the really COLD weather will arrive – which it did with a vengeance just a few days ago.

-27C is -16F; -34C is -29F

Anything below -20C is really cold.  -20C, -27C,  -34C. No more relativity – it is all just really, really cold. The forecast says it will warm up by this week-end, but do they really mean that? Watch the video below:

I took some photos when it was a balmy -10C.

Frost Covered Trees
Frost covered trees with a Topaz Studio filter called oil.
Macro photo of frost crystals.
Frost crystals with a Topaz Studio sharp filter.

If you are a regular reader, you will wonder why I’m still in Alberta and not soaking up the sun in Arizona. The answer to that is – some times one door closes but another ten open. On the closed door side, the ‘Rona virus and various levels of government made it much less appealing to travel – (though not impossible). On the open door side – at our Alberta house there is a ‘Never Ending Reno’ list, enough craft and hobby supplies to last a lifetime, family to visit as soon as this lock down is lifted and the always enticing prospect of an early start to gardening season! Yah!

Is it still winter where you are? What is the coldest temperature you saw this year? How accurate are the weather reports where you live?

It Was a Quick Trip Home

The best laid plans… When we booked our 2 week trip back to Alberta (from our winter abode in Arizona) we were optimistic that the brutal cold would be over by early March. It wasn’t. The last night we were in the chilly north, the wind chill temperature was -40C (-40F.)

Is wind chill something that the weather man warns you about where you live? Did you know there is a rather complicated formula for determining wind chill?

There is an equivalent formula for degrees Fahrenheit, of course.

But, we’re still old school. We don’t need a complicated formula. We look out the window and use a simple If-Then statement:

If the outdoor thermometer says it is pretty cold and the snow is drifting across the back yard and the visible chimney smoke is not going straight up then the wind chill will be greater than the temperature on the thermometer.

So yes, it was cold out. Of course we are hardy Canucks with over six decades of Alberta winters under our belts. We hauled out the really warm clothing and released The Car Guy’s truck from the garage. We were good to go.

Unfortunately, our house was not quite good to go. We live on an acreage, with our own water and septic systems. Water in – water out is our responsibility. The extreme cold, unfortunately, froze the ‘water out’ system. We hadn’t even unpacked our bags before we discovered this problem. We quickly shut down the ‘water in’ system and booked a ‘discovery meeting’ with the plumber for the next day. When ‘nature started to call’ … urgently… and the extreme cold removed the possibility that I was going to squat outside in the snow, we packed up and headed to a motel for the night. (And the next five nights…)

After several thawing attempts by the plumbers, it was decided that the most cost effective course of action for us was to let Mother Nature thaw the system in the spring, and for us to cut our visit down to 6 busy days.

Besides visits with family, we attended a High School performance of  the musical ‘Chicago’. Actually, we went twice. Our Grandson played ‘Amos’ in this production and though I don’t want to brag too much – he was really good! Did I hum along when he was singing Mr. Cellophane? You bet!

Cellophane
Mister Cellophane
Shoulda been my name
Mister Cellophane
‘Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I’m there…

The rest of the cast was awesome too – such a lot of talent in just one High School. Multiply that by all the rest of the High Schools and all the other disciplines and the young plumbers who advised us on our septic system and the lively youngsters who bounced around the motel dining room at breakfast every morning – well you can’t help but feel optimistic about the future of our Province!

Arizona Snow Yesterday and Today

North of Fountain Hills

Yesterday (Friday, February 22, 2019): Our Arizona back yard (north of Fountain Hills). Heavy wet snow caused quite a bit of damage to trees in our area.

North of Fountain Hills

Today (Saturday, February 23): View from our roof top patio – The Foothills just north of us.

I’m not going to complain about the cold weather and snow we’ve had here this month. It is vastly warmer than our northern home in Alberta. We are, however, flying back to Alberta for a few weeks to attend a few family events. It is still pretty cold there, but the upside is Alberta home heating systems are vastly superior! I won’t need to be sitting in my chair with a couple blankets and a heating pad, waiting for the furnace to take the chill off the room!

What has your winter been like this year?

Wednesday What’s That?

Weather in Arizona – usually temperatures are described as warm, warmer, hot, hotter, or real hot. So far this year, though, warmth hasn’t been a factor here at all. With that thought in mind, can you guess what these close-up photos are?

The top photo is frost on the fabric top of a convertible.
The middle photo is frozen rain drops on the shark fin antenna of the same car.
The bottom photo is hail as it fell onto our patio table.

I’m not complaining about our Arizona cloudy, cool, sometimes rainy weather though. Our home in Canada is just coming out of ‘Deep Freeze’ mode. Wind chills have been in the -40°C to -50°C range. Sure glad we’ve missed that…

Moon and Venus Sunrise

Moon and Venus Sunrise. January 31, 2019

Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.
– Glen Cook, Sweet Silver Blues –

Early morning cheerfulness can be extremely obnoxious.
– William Feather –

It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.”
– H.G. Wells, The Time Machine –

I get up early and go to bed early. The Car Guy gets up late and goes to bed late. That gives each of us a 2-3 hour bit of solitude. As Martha Stewart would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Playing with Snow

Not enough snow to play IN! Just enough snow to play WITH! Photo filters are courtesy the program Topaz Studio.

My back yard. Most of the trees are just beginning to put on their coat of fall colours.
I like the effect of this filter, even though it erases most of the snowflakes.
Really big snowflakes! They sure stood out against the spruce forest in the font yard.
This impasto filter turns the photo into a painting.

Any interesting weather in your part of the world today? When was the last time you had a snowball fight or built a snowman?

Line Up of Sunrises

We have a roof top patio in Arizona – a perfect place for watching sunrises, sunsets, and star gazing.

Sunrise with plane contrails.

The science behind contrails is fascinating. Contrails should never be a cause for alarm; after all, folks don’t flip out on chilly days when their breath forms a cloud. If it’s cold enough and the air is still, you might even notice a cloud hanging behind you for several meters.
What really comes out of an airplane? Contrails, not chemtrails, The Washington Post –

Clouds aligned in rows.
The jagged lines of the mountains on the horizon and the palm trees in the neighbours yard.
Clouds are in line with the horizon.
The lines of palm fronds.

Are you on a flight path? Are the planes loud and noisy, or so high you don’t even notice them?

This week’s WordPress.com photo Challenge is Lines.

Recipe for a Dramatic Sunrise or Sunset

Are the sunrises and sunsets in your part of the world ho-hum?
If they are, then you could follow this recipe to make them spectacular!
– start with clean air, preferably in the fall or winter season. (You might have to travel somewhere to find these conditions.)
– marvel at the blue of the daytime sky, which is caused by the selective scattering of sunlight by air molecules. This scattering favours the shorter wavelengths of violet to blue.
– consider the much longer path through the atmosphere that sunlight has to travel in the morning and evening. It scatters more violet and blue, which creates the opportunity for reds and oranges to reach our eyes.
– finally, add some clouds to catch the red-orange rays and reflect this light to the ground.

It wasn’t until I investigated the science of the colour of sunrises that I realized that not everyone gets to see such a thing regularly! Now I know how fortunate I am to live in two parts of the world where this frequently occurs.

This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Rise/Set

For a good explanation of scattering, see The Colors of Sunset and Twilight.

Question of the day – do you have dramatic sunrises and sunsets where you live? If so, how much thousands of photos have you taken of them?

Frozen – As Cold as Mars

It was very cold here in Alberta in late December 2017 and early January 2018. The overnight low temperatures were below -20C (-4F) for 7 days straight during the holiday season. The lowest temperature was -31C (-24F). January 2018 was briefly milder before sinking into another 4 day stretch of extreme cold. When it finally warmed up to a balmy -8C we packed the Jeep and made a dash to warmer climates for a while!

As Alberta was plunged into extreme cold warnings on Boxing Day…  Alberta was about as cold as Mars’ Gale Crater, the home of the Curiosity rover. Mars is subject to pretty violent temperatures shifts, and Curiosity regularly encounters temperatures below -80 C. But this week, the highest temperature experienced by the rover were -23 C. A Calgary Boxing Day shopper, therefore, might have found themselves getting into a car that was literally colder than a Martian spacecraft.
– Tristin Hopper, National Post, Dec 27, 2017 –

Snow Flakes, sharpened and color corrected

We spent a lot of time indoors in December and January. Inconveniently, it snowed regularly. I did a lot of snow shoveling, but only for short periods of time. It was just too cold. As for The Car Guy and the tractor – neither would start on several occasions…

Canada is one of the coldest countries in the world, having an average yearly temperature of about -5C. Viewed through this lens, it is no wonder that by the New Year we start to forget that we ever had summer…

By January it had always been winter.
– Annie Proulx, Shipping News –

How has your winter been so far?

Moon Shots

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.
– The Highwayman, Alfred Noyes (1880-1958) –

If I was going to choose an illustration for ‘The Highwayman”, I’d choose this photo…