Extreme weather check-in January 30, 2019 10:33 AM   Subscribe

North America is being slammed by a breakaway polar vortex and Australia is melting under brutal record heat. Stay safe, everyone, and share how you're coping with it if you wish. Three-dog nights? Ice bucket immersions?
posted by Johnny Wallflower to MetaFilter-Related at 10:33 AM (169 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Made an FPP, and an extremely obscure joke elsewhere based on the plotline of 1970's era Battlestar Galactica episode.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:36 AM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

All I know is that I am sweating like James Brown giving a concert, Owww...Sydney is a hot tub. And it too hot in the hot tub!
posted by jadepearl at 10:41 AM on January 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

Thanks, Johnny Wallflower.

Toronto is having trouble Canada-ing, traffic- and transit-wise. I don't know of anyone who got to my office when they intended to today. Honestly for January it's not that cold here, so it's not great that we're having these issues.
posted by wellred at 10:45 AM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Thanks for your concern!

But it's Vermont, where we are used to 8 months of winter and 4 months of bad sledding.
posted by terrapin at 10:50 AM on January 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

It's -16 C here and with the windchill it's expected to hit -25 C tonight. I don't mind the cold because I can hunker down inside but I dislike messy snow and what the freezing temperatures may do to my car and it's wear and tear. Hope everyone stays safe and warm. Check in on your neighbors, anyone older who might need some help, your pets, your family, your loved ones. Sending my warmest regards from S. Ontario Canada. :)
posted by Fizz at 10:51 AM on January 30, 2019 [8 favorites]

Apparently, both Alaska and the Antarctic seem warmer then the Midwest.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:55 AM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Credit where credit is due: I love y'all, but Fizz suggested the post.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:58 AM on January 30, 2019 [8 favorites]

This morning I sat in Toronto city council chambers as the too pure for this world Kristyn Wong-Tam and a dozen other councillors put forth over 13K petition signatures to get our homeless situation deemed a state of emergency. Meanwhile, the Mayor, a.k.a. a sack of runny cottage cheese in a badly fitting suit, tried to give away a few hundred millions of dollars of city land to developers to build condos rental units with a hairspray promise that some of it will be "affordable." I couldn't stick around to see if the petition motion would go anywhere, but I'm hopeful? Maybe? Meanwhile five people have died on our streets in January's cold spells and hundreds of others are turned away from excessively overcrowded shelters.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:02 AM on January 30, 2019 [20 favorites]

Iowa checking in here. When I took the dog out this morning, it was -47 with the windchill. Kinda crazy. Coldest I remember it being here, and I'm a native. The whole town is shut down.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:03 AM on January 30, 2019 [8 favorites]

Chicago suburbs here and temp is -14 (-38 windchill)right now. Thankfully I get to stay home all day because my place of work decided not to open.
Called my parents and they’re fine. My furnace is running, I have an attached garage for my car, my cat is taking her job acting as a furry hot water bottle VERY seriously, and I’m reading a good book. Very grateful for ALL of these.
Stay safe everybody!
posted by bookmammal at 11:04 AM on January 30, 2019 [12 favorites]

I am leaving the house in an hour to get to a beer release, though. This will be the millenial version of walking to school barefoot in the snow. "Kids, it was -50 degrees, but dammit, I put on my Northface, got in my Subaru, and I made it to that craft beer release."
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:05 AM on January 30, 2019 [28 favorites]

Checking in from Wisconsin - 'feel like' -49. The Culver's a few blocks from my house is closed so you *know* it's serious.

My folks are in Florida so I had to go out to check on their condo. Roads were in surprisingly good condition and pretty sparse in terms of traffic.

I've got the fireplace going and a Murder By Death documentary to keep me warm.

Stay safe, everyone!
posted by Twicketface at 11:10 AM on January 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

Minnesota: -26 F on my car thermometer this morning, with wind chill closer to -50 F. Schools are out for the third day in a row, and probably tomorrow too. The inside of my front door had ice crystals on the hinges and door jamb this morning. My boss is at home with frozen pipes. Mail delivery is suspended today. Residents of some counties are being instructed to turn down their thermostats to 60 F because of the strain on the natural gas system. I wore my warmest hat on the way to work and got teased by a coworker for it.
posted by beandip at 11:12 AM on January 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

Chicago checking in. Our house was built in the early 20s and still has its original windows and trim (it was so charming!). I don't think the boiler has turned off yet today, it can't keep up with the drafts blowing in.

I mentioned a few other places on the site that I'm housebound with a broken knee/leg. If there was ever a winter that I was glad to sit out, it's this one.
posted by hwyengr at 11:16 AM on January 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

Twin Citian here. I am working today (filling in for a colleague who's car won't start) but will be taking tomorrow off for the annual Lord of the Rings marathon. Seems like a good time to revisit Middle Earth: to sigh at the greenness of Hobbiton, to nod in sympathy when they are trying to use the Pass of Caradhras, and to guiltily feel a bit envious of the warmth of Mt. Doom.
posted by Gray Duck at 11:17 AM on January 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

BTW, it’s raining in January in my corner of Alaska. What little snow we had on the street has melted off. This is not a freak occurrence for this winter or in recent years. The winters of my childhood (in this town) were not like this.
posted by D.C. at 11:18 AM on January 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

I cannot complain here. It's a bit colder in Santa Fe, NM, and the air is brisk on my face when I'm out walking for more than a few minutes, but not full "why am I living where the air hurts my face?" (the answers are numerous*).

I rode the train up to work today and no one was lighting the train tracks on fire to to heat up railroad tracks to ensure trains can run smoothly (CNN video clip from Chicago).

Be safe!

* When I first saw one of those "why do I live here" response memes, my thought was to sing a little Oukast -- "Lend me some sugar, I am your neighbor!"
posted by filthy light thief at 11:18 AM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Greetings from another Chicago suburb. Or possibly the same one! -14 degrees, -38 with wind chill. Work was optional so I am home. Though Dexter the Shi Tzu did go outside and pee on a pile of snow, we are resigned to dogs peeing on puppy pads in lieu of further ventures outdoors. I am eating cheap ramen and watching painting timelapse videos and heartwarming Dodo videos. And hope to be painting shortly.
posted by Glinn at 11:19 AM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

I am going to Australia in two weeks, woo-hoo! I love the heat, but will probably not appreciate it that much.
posted by Melismata at 11:28 AM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

extremely obscure joke elsewhere based on the plotline of 1970's era Battlestar Galactica episode

Are we not good enough for jokes about, one assumes, The Gun on Ice Planet Zero?
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:31 AM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm in Minneapolis and thankfully my boss closed the office for today. I don't think I can handle waiting for the bus in this, and despite having turned the heat up at home it's still too cold to shower and I'm wearing a wool hat inside.

Last night I turned my heated mattress pad all the way up and then just left it there all night because that's how cold it is. My roommate set up a warming station for our cats. I need to get a sweater and maybe another pair of socks on so I can work on a sewing project and maybe find something to bake so that we'll have the extra heat of the oven.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:42 AM on January 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

I'm in Iowa! I'm sure it's very cold (-20, according to the app on my browser), but I haven't left the house, so I wouldn't know. Crossing my fingers that my pipes don't freeze.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:44 AM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

bile and syntax—Heated mattress pads are the absolute best!!!!! And—I baked cookies this morning, but only partly to warm up the kitchen. :-)
posted by bookmammal at 11:45 AM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

The cold is supposed to get here to Boston later tonight, with a line of snow squalls preceding it. I'm expecting a bad commute, but it's clear and calm right now.

I biked in to work last week (or whenever it was) when it dipped in to the single digits overnight; I expect it will be similar tomorrow and Friday. The only part of me that really got cold were my toes, despite wool socks and shoe covers. There's no snow on the ground this week, so hopefully my feet will stay a little warmer.
posted by backseatpilot at 12:02 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Working from home in the Twin Cities today. I would have the fireplace on, but I just saw the thing in the other thread about Xcel saying their gas resources were being strained. I’ve got plenty of blankets, and really, my house is very energy-efficient and gets a lot of natural light. Warm and toasty. The cats must be piled up on my bed, since they’re not down here with me.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:04 PM on January 30, 2019


Family in Minnesota 's Twin Cities are being stoic, and down-playing the negative-thirties-F temps by pointing out how much worse it is Up North, and hey they aren't wimping out with this tweet as evidence:


My daughter, born & bred here in New England, was alarmed by this news about her relatives. I warned her that "shoveling when it’s so cold your boogers freeze and your eyes get teary and then also freeze shut" is just too, too much. She's in New Hampshire now, and has seen some cold, but I think this is scaring her a little. :7)

(Personally, since moving out east 20 years ago, I don't miss those crazy damn winters a bit: the moderating influence of the gentle Atlantic keeps New England positively comfy by contrast!)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:05 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Our town northeast of Minneapolis/St. Paul bottomed out at -30 F this morning.
My car had barely warmed up on the 20 mile drive home from work last night. This morning it both wouldn't start and had a weather-induced flat tire. Mr. Superna's truck has a block heater, so he brought me to work, then went home to keep the truck plugged in so we maintain one working vehicle.

Have been feeding logs to the fireplace we use for supplemental heating for 2 days straight, but the propane furnace is still running pretty much non-stop as well. Hopefully the supply holds out so we don't need an emergency fill (would be nice if there was an exception to the "no refill order until tank is under 30%" policy when weather like this is forecast...)
posted by superna at 12:06 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Is there water dripping in the sinks? I’m checking every hour or two.
posted by valkane at 12:15 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Last week it was pretty cold in New England (though, no, nothing like this, teens and twenties). The gas company in southern Rhode Island did a boo-boo and whoopsie! kind of shut off everyone's gas around Newport, RI. But just for a few days! Well, OK, more like a week.

They suggested everyone maybe open their faucets a crack and then flee for a few days (there were schools being used as warming centers for the 7000+ affected customers/families), and when it was safe to turn the gas back on, a nice man would come around with a box of matches and you should just let him right in to your basement.

This, of course, is preferable to what happened up in Massachusetts last fall with the gas supply, and the gas is back on now, but I think folks are pretty skeptical about their utility company now.
posted by wenestvedt at 12:26 PM on January 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

It’s going to be cold for Providence, but not that cold, with a little bit of snow. I wouldn’t be worried about my commute at all tomorrow except that I already have a nasty cold and no option to stay home.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:27 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Shit. I've been making a little bit light of this situation, but it sounds like a student at the institution where I work froze to death last night. Shit. Stay safe, everyone.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:30 PM on January 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

This, of course, is preferable to what happened up in Massachusetts last fall with the gas supply,

where 50 homes blew up in Lawrence due to human error.
posted by Melismata at 12:31 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

But it's Vermont, where we are used to 8 months of winter and 4 months of bad sledding.

Yep, we've been getting surprisingly normal weather up here which is just a ton of snow which is refreshing after the last few poozly winters.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:33 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah, it's gonna be like 7 degrees in Boston when I commute tomorrow, which is really fucking cold but not -21. I can deal just fine in 7 degrees, in fact I love going out and playing in the cold, but -21 is just fucking COLD.

Take care of yourselves, everyone.
posted by bondcliff at 12:38 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Another Chicago suburb checking in. It's cold, the city and everything in it is shut down. I don't think I've seen 5 cars drive by, and I live on a fairly busy street.

I've seen FB posts of ice making its way inside (through window jambs and whatnot), and I'm very happy to say that my 115+ year old house hasn't had any of that! It's cold upstairs (uninsulated attic), but my furnace is managing to keep up with a set temp of 70. Ive been doing a lot of baking today ( cranberry-pear-apple muffins; no-knead bread)so the kitchen is downright toasty.

Every night is a 3-dog night for me, but I told the cat to be ready to be called in from reserves. I haven't tried to start my car yet, that can wait until tomorrow morning. And if it doesn't start, more baking for me. My house was making some alarming noises late last night, along with maybe some frost quakes.

The forecast says it's going to get up to 45 F by Sunday; having that big of a temperature swing is really bananas.
posted by Fig at 12:39 PM on January 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

As someone who lived in New England for about ten years, I would rather have the cold in Minnesota than deal with ice and ocean-effect snow all the time, and I loathed having the salt air just rip the moisture out of my skin. I honestly found that I'm often warmer inside in the winter here in Minnesota because so much of New England cannot figure out how to insulate a building and they just leak heat.
posted by bile and syntax at 12:40 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Chicago here, in the city. I live along the lake, and I can tell you this: it's absolutely gorgeous out there today.

I have never been more grateful that I work from home, so it's just a matter of staying warm by bundling up and keeping busy. My bldg is not new, and I'm actually quite impressed to still have heat/water/electricity... that stuff goes in and out here on the regular (I'm mos def paying for a view), but they seem to have it all under control. Further, we have a little store on the first floor, so I really cannot complain.

If you'd like to see pictures of the lake this morning, check out my Instagrammed videos; I took a couple that show the steam rising up from the 32–33˚F lake into the -23˚F air. Just lovely.
posted by heyho at 12:42 PM on January 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

I just got an email from my university saying the snow squalls are coming to Cambridge for the evening commute... which is really surreal, since the little sliver of sky I can see from my window is clear blue.

Even so, I'll leave lab early today - being a postdoc has some perks - and avoid the sidewalks getting any more slippery than they were from last night's dusting of snow.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 12:44 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

The forecast says it's going to get up to 45 F by Sunday; having that big of a temperature swing is really bananas.

And it fucks with my head, causing pressure headaches, something I never really noticed or thought about when I was younger but which seems to now be a thing as I creep towards 40. Stupid aging body.
posted by Fizz at 12:51 PM on January 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

Summer is bullshit, that's all this Australian has got for you.
posted by deadwax at 12:52 PM on January 30, 2019 [17 favorites]

My Subaru wouldn’t start this morning, despite a battery less than a year old. Roadside assistance finally got it going and I’m now sitting at the shop while they check it out to assess whether there’s actually something amiss or if it just had a case of the colds. Driving it here, I noticed that once again, the cold overnight was sufficient to make the car’s clock forget what time it is and the radio forget all the programmed stations. That happened during the last polar vortex in ‘14, too.

I'm often warmer inside in the winter here in Minnesota because so much of New England cannot figure out how to insulate a building and they just leak heat.

This is totally true. ConEd’s residential gas customers in New York use 30 percent more gas than our Minnesota customers. Their use per customer is 120 Dth/year; ours is below 90.
posted by nickmark at 12:58 PM on January 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

Minneapolis: The skyways are windy and both Foshay and Oracle have burst pipes in the ceiling on the skyway level. This means you have to dodge a giant wet spot on the carpet and all the industrial fans. Caribou Coffee was closed, but everything else was open. Also, the lobby of my building is about sixty degrees, the elevators are cold and even the lobby on my floor is noticeably colder than our office. I have to wonder how badly insulated the entire skyway system is.
posted by soelo at 1:00 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

ms scruss is stuck in Toronto. Can't dig the car out, but doesn't really want to drive in this.

I'm at a conference in Orlando. Locals are complaining about the cold and are wearing multiple layers. It's 12 °C / 54 °F …
posted by scruss at 1:01 PM on January 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

heyho, I'm in Chicago too but like two whole blocks from the lake. Thanks for posting that video so I can see the lake without having to put on 18 layers!
posted by nicodine at 1:04 PM on January 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

My heater's turned up higher than it's ever been, and it's still just slightly warmer than the grave. Bed, blankets, sweatpants, socks, hot drinks, movies. Cats refuse to come under the blankets, the furry little fuckers.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:06 PM on January 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

Oh, and for the record: so far, both this January and this gas year (measured from July 1) are still warmer than normal overall for Minneapolis.
posted by nickmark at 1:10 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

The Onion's input is pretty funny!
posted by heyho at 1:14 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

soelo: Caribou Coffee was closed

Isn't that the Minnesota Corollary to the Waffle House Index?
posted by wenestvedt at 1:36 PM on January 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

Apparently, both Alaska and the Antarctic seem warmer then the Midwest.

Correct, and we are pissed about it. In Anchorage it’s been about 35 degrees and raining- the worst weather any of us here can think of. Pray for our trails, we gotta get the snow to last through March at a minimum.
posted by charmedimsure at 1:52 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Update: I'm snuggled in a blanket on the couch, and all of the dogs are napping somewhere else >:O so it's really not too bad inside. Jerks.
posted by Fig at 2:01 PM on January 30, 2019 [5 favorites]

The other week Australia recorded every one of the 15th highest temperatures on the planet: something like over 45C in every recorded location.

Here in Sydney, it's been OK. Daily maximums of about 33C, nightly 22C.

A week before xmas (midsummer) we had a devastating hailstorm.

A week or two before that, a month's worth of rain in an hour.

I will be celebrating this by doing everything I can to eject the climate denial dinosaurs currently in power in the Federal government.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:05 PM on January 30, 2019 [20 favorites]

I am trying to get the attention of my super - while my boiler in my building is working, apparently the radiators are NOT. This isn't good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:07 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Montreal is OK. It is going down to -18C here tonight and again tomorrow night and we've got some snow. That counts as coldish January weather, but nothing extreme. A week or so ago I was doing the throw boiling water out the door and watch it turn to snow trick with the kids (mid -20s or so), but it's too warm for that now. I feel for those of you with those -30C to -40C temps. Sympathies also to those of you on the other side of the globe, sweating it out. Stay comfortable everyone.
posted by Cuke at 2:16 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I am, god help me, packing up for a writing retreat at a house in Galveston for which I leave tomorrow. In the case that the polar vortex manages to reach Galveston, I intend to snuggle my dog (who is coming along for the ride) and possibly my colleague's husky, who will probably be more helpful.
posted by sciatrix at 2:18 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Galveston weather will be nowhere near freezing. This week will be fairly nice for the southern portion of the country. Come the summer, we will be on high alert for hurricanes, however.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:24 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

A friend of mine asked me how cold it is up here, and when I told her she started on about how parts of Mars are warmer.
posted by bile and syntax at 2:25 PM on January 30, 2019 [6 favorites]

Chicago suburbs update—I’m on the couch bundled up in a throw blanket that my cat doesn’t like. She’s sitting on the coffee table staring daggers at me. God help me, I’m getting up to find another blanket.
posted by bookmammal at 2:28 PM on January 30, 2019 [15 favorites]

My part of central NYS could certainly be warmer. It's currently 1F and maxed out today at around 5, but that's without wind chill factor. Local schools are all shut today and tomorrow but my college employer has elected to remain open (it has only closed for weather three times in the nearly 20 yrs I've been here, so that's not really surprising); fortunately, I'm not on a TuTh schedule, so I can avoid a repeat of this morning's teeth-chattering sound effects as I made my way from my car to the office building. (We have no food of any sort in our building, so the sound effects were repeated as I ran to the nearest campus coffee shop for lunch...) My baseboard heat begins to lose enthusiasm around this temperature point, so I'm camped out in front of a space heater.

Next week is definitely going to be weird--like, 50s one day? Huh?
posted by thomas j wise at 2:33 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've been the one sending out the work-is-closed-don't-come-in emails, which I enjoy.

I sent out today's just a few minutes ago, right after my power came back on after an outage. I will share a snippet:
I hope you all have been managing ok today in the weather. My apartment lost power for FORTY FIVE MINUTES and I was already considering a Donner Party situation with my downstairs neighbors. (I kid.)
I already got a response saying "really, Jen???" so I know I'm doing something right.
posted by phunniemee at 2:41 PM on January 30, 2019 [14 favorites]

Still no super, still no radiator. The rest of the building around me is warm (I can feel it) and I have two fairly decent space heaters going so I'm not going to freeze. I also got weatherstripping and sealed up cracks around my notoriously terrible drafty windows and that's also helping.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:45 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Madison WI checking in. School’s cancelled, the university is cancelled, piano is cancelled, the mail is cancelled, and we’re all cozily going nowhere in our pjs. The siege will continue into tomorrow.

Hot chocolate, however, is not cancelled.
posted by eirias at 2:46 PM on January 30, 2019 [8 favorites]

For once Ottawa's weather is less extreme than everywhere else--it's just normal cold here (-13C at the moment, vs -17 in Toronto). Although we did break records for January snowfall amounts. I am rapidly running out of space to put the snow that I shovel off the walk and the driveway.
posted by quaking fajita at 2:47 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

EmpressCallipygos, have your radiators been bled recently? there should be a valve down where the main valve is (a small lever with an output) instead of the knurled water hose wheel. If you use a coffee cup and let the air out, maybe that will help?

good luck.
posted by valkane at 2:51 PM on January 30, 2019

-17°C in Toronto, wind chill -31, not so bad as a lot of places (subjectively cold AF tho). Took close to an hour to excavate my car from the snowbank that the plow had entombed it in yesterday morning. Which I don’t think I’ve ever had to do before, could be this is the first time my street has been plowed since I moved here 7 years ago. Now I spend my workday wracked with anxiety that someone will snake my spot while I’m gone.
posted by rodlymight at 2:54 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Here in Pittsburgh I feel like I'm being gaslit. I mean, it is super cold but I swear we had a snap last year where it was just as cold, and for longer. My kid's school was closed today and will be again tomorrow. They cancelled classes at the University I work at (though notably did not actually close the University so staff still had to come in). The last time they cancelled classes was 2011 when we got 3 feet of snow. Nobody seems to be able to figure out what is making this holy shit it's cold different from last year's holy shit it's cold.
posted by soren_lorensen at 3:14 PM on January 30, 2019

Cincinnati: everything is closed, except for my work but fuck that, I used an emergency day. My asthma lungs would revolt in this cold.

My daughter is in Chicago, where her university cancelled classes today and tomorrow. Meanwhile, my son in in Rochester, NY, where the temps aren't that much higher and his school remains open. I don't know if he went to classes, but the university was open.

And my dog goes outside for about a half second, then lifts his paws one by one until someone comes out and picks him up. *sigh* We're going to borrow some dog booties from a friend to see if that helps.
posted by cooker girl at 3:27 PM on January 30, 2019

I'm in Madison too. This is snow day number three for my four kids, and tomorrow's already called as well. I expected it to be like Lord of the Flies up in here but we're actually having a lot of fun.

I'm not a real Midwesterner -- I grew up in warm places -- and I'm always convinced that we're all going to freeze to death somehow in the winter. So I've been reminding the 4-year-olds like sixty times a day that you CANNOT GO OUTSIDE WITHOUT ASKING. Pretty sure they think I've lost my mind.
posted by gerstle at 3:40 PM on January 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

"The Culver's a few blocks from my house is closed so you *know* it's serious."

Not the Culver's!!!!!!

Chicago suburbia, near the lake, -15 feels like -34. Kids were off Monday for 6 inches of snow, which on top of prior snow, is a LOT of snow. They were off today and will be off tomorrow, for the frigid cold.

It's actually not so bad; I was able to spend Tuesday getting ready so we're stocked up and the house is all battened down. My kids are driving me a LITTLE bit up the wall and we slept with the Nano McGee (who's 2) in our bed last night because we were concerned about her getting cold, but there was remarkably little kicking for a toddler and she was so sweet to wake up to. Since Mr. McGee is working from home he doesn't have to commute so we were able to watch a movie last night after the kids went to bed (Crazy Rich Asians) which is unusual for a weeknight! and then he got up early with the kids and I got to sleep in a bit.

EVERYTHING's closed -- schools, courts, libraries, town hall, garbage pickup, postal delivery. I live on a very doggy block, and we haven't seen a single dog go by all day. Only vehicle has been the plow.

I am baking my Cornish pasties now (using the advice from Cornish mefites in a prior thread to keep them from getting too dry!) and looking forward to sitting with my feet up after dinner.

"I rode the train up to work today and no one was lighting the train tracks on fire to to heat up railroad tracks to ensure trains can run smoothly (CNN video clip from Chicago). "

Chicago does this every winter, but I'm tickled pink that this is the story the world media has picked up on this time for GUESS HOW FUCKIN COLD IT IS IN AMERICA RIGHT NOW! And this isn't even the coolest train track fire method! The gas-fed fires under the switches are baby stuff, the COOL thing is when a track pops loose somewhere along the line (usually near a bridge where they can't continuous-weld for Reasons) and they go out with a rope soaked in kerosene, lay it along the offending track, and light that mofo up. It's awesome. I get so excited when I see the tracks on fire, because inside we're all just cavemen going "fire! heh heh cool, fire"

Also I feel sort-of bad-ass that the world is marveling at Chicago being SO HARD CORE we live in a place where you have to light the train tracks on fire to keep the trains running. 😎
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:45 PM on January 30, 2019 [17 favorites]

Also, I learned in the other thread that there is a Minnesotan mefite named Gray Duck and that is pretty much my favorite thing that's ever happened on metafilter
posted by gerstle at 3:47 PM on January 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

We are coping by dressing the dog up, though despite his appearance he has only had one very short walk today. Otherwise just life as usual, but colder - I work in healthcare, so no time off from work.
posted by obfuscation at 3:54 PM on January 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

EmpressCallipygos, have your radiators been bled recently?

I've actually been prowling around the apartment looking for where I can do that; I don't have a radiator like the kind you're thinking, and I realize I use "radiator" incorrectly out of habit. I have baseboard heaters instead.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:01 PM on January 30, 2019

What's really annoying, too, is that I'm afraid that when the last cold snap came, one of the windows was really drafty and leaked cold air down onto one of the baseboards somewhere and that's what's causing the problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:03 PM on January 30, 2019

Mod note: Hey, EC, I snipped the link out of that because you pasted in a raw base64 dump instead of a URL.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:10 PM on January 30, 2019

We had a 20-minute whiteout in Flushing (and then back to sunny, wtf?) which caused my book club meeting to be only two kids. We discussed “You Go First” by Erin Entrada Kelly and I taught them to play Scrabble (“Can I play PEE?!” “Yes, that is a dictionary word.” *wild laughter*)
posted by blnkfrnk at 4:19 PM on January 30, 2019 [11 favorites]

It's a balmy 6F/-14C on our deck in suburban Buffamalo right now. We've been under a blizzard warning for about 6 hours and will be for another six because the intense cold has made a light, small-flaked, easily-lofted snow that keeps getting thrown around by the 30-40mph winds. I'd say we got around 18"/45cm of snow over the last 24 hours.

Mostly it's been fine; our works are closed so it's just a snow day. The older dogs aren't really thrilled about it but the youngest Alice likes tear-assing around in snow deeper than her for a few minutes at a time. I was kind enough to mostly shovel out a peepeetorium for them so that they could emit their various sinful substances without freezing their hinders and/or nipples. Especially Nina, who has a shaved tum from an ultrasound around new years (she still has chronic pancreatitis but is good the now).

Not really looking forward to shoveling the roof over our back addition tomorrow, but they're calling for 8-15" here before everything melts this weekend so I kinda want to get ahead of it.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 4:31 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

I'm in New England and it looks like this polar vortex thing is going to be pretty attenuated over here. But I've weatherized my terrible front door (new door coming in a few weeks), laid on extra pairs of long johns, and am weighing the possibility of just rescheduling one or both of my site visits tomorrow. I probably won't though; most likely I'll try and go to them and at least get the electrical portion squared away, and take a crack at doing the roofs from the top of the ladder without actually getting on them. The main issue is really that I'm expecting the roofs in Lawrence and Gloucester will still have snow on them. I'm not too worried about the cold per se, but then we're looking at highs in the teens over here.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:35 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

And the Toronto City Council voted 7-18 that people freezing to death on the street while hundreds more sleep rough in -20C temps because shelters are overcrowded as fuck despite what seems to be some kind of Red Cross response team being deployed is not an emergency situation or a human rights violation.

I'm glad I went home before those votes were taken.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:39 PM on January 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

gerstle - you have four kids and two of them are four? At that age does the childcare math work out so two is less work than one? We have just the one six year old and she is about three handfuls some days.
posted by eirias at 4:47 PM on January 30, 2019

Walking back to my car this evening in the -2F weather, it hurt to breath. I've been in ~-20F weather at least twice in my life so this isn't record breaking or anything but it's still damn cold. My nose hairs were all frozen by the time I got back to my car after work tonight. I'm usually too cheap to park in the building's garage so I have to walk almost half a mile between my car and the office but I'm thinking that I'll splurge for the $9 in the garage tomorrow.
posted by octothorpe at 5:09 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

You know what, I have no idea. They definitely entertain each other, but they also help each other come up with crazy shit to do. Maybe we're right at the inflection point now where two turns into less work than one! I'm in favor of that.
posted by gerstle at 5:20 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Luckily this time around Brisbane has escaped the worst of it. In recent years a normal summer here would be heatwaves interspersed with flooding rain, but this year we've pretty much missed both (apart from catching a day or so of the tail end of the last heatwave that swept through the southern half of the continent).

We haven't even had the usual continuous 35℃ / 90+% RH & weekly huge summer storms that are typical late November - January weather. Looking at the BoM data, we've only had one day over 35℃ & one day over 80% RH in the last 2 months.

Glad we didn't go to Adelaide when we planned though, and missed the worst of the heat while we were in Canberra after Christmas…
posted by Pinback at 5:34 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

New England again: only light snow but the wind is so strong that every shovelful of snow thrown in the air lands across the street. The wind sounds like freeway traffic. That kind of wind when it’s below freezing is never good.
posted by wenestvedt at 5:58 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I feel for the freeze-zone MeFis and the sweltering MeFis. :( We have it great here by comparison, stale oatmeal cookies and all. Hang in there everyone.
posted by yoga at 5:58 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

No wind at all here in southern New Hampshire, wenestvedt. It's completely still. Furnace is working harder than I'd like, though. Now that I have my own house, I am suddenly acutely aware of what that oil I'm burning costs.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:08 PM on January 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm currently in Grand Rapids, which got up to a relatively balmy 1F today, but is having lows in the negative single digits. We had the storm come through Monday and drop a foot on us, and it's been lake effect stuff almost continuously (still going!) since then. I'd guess we've gotten 18-24" of snow the last few days. The lake causes the snow, but also keeps it a bit warmer than other areas. Schools have been closed almost all week and most are closed through tomorrow or until next week. My office is open, but about half our staff is working from home and taking care of their kids. I had to drive around a bit yesterday and experienced my 1st through 10th momentary whiteouts while doing so.

I'm originally from San Diego, but lived in western Wisconsin for a few years before moving to Grand Rapids, so this level of cold is the worst I've seen in the three winters I've been here, but still "meh" on the lifetime scale. Where I used to live in Wisconsin got down to -30F today though, which is more than 10 degrees colder than I ever saw there.
posted by LionIndex at 6:35 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seattle checking in. This is the worst the weather has ever been.* Today is the fourth day in a row of cloudless skies and it was a balmy 55. The ski season is likely to be short and I’m downright concerned about the lack of snowpack for our summer water supply. Concerned!

*Seattle always finds a reason to complain about the weather, even when it’s nice. Cover up your nuts and keep warm midwestern Mefites!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 6:44 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Just north of Boston, and the squall finally showed up a little after 7. It didn’t actually last very long, but holy cow it was intense. Snow blowing sideways and I could barely see the house across the street. I tried to move the snow off the sidewalk afterwards, but then the wind kicked up again and it’s very powdery snow, so oh well. It was only maybe an inch?

The temp has dropped to around 10F now, but the forecast helpfully tells me it will be around 5 when I have to go wait for the bus in the morning. Yay.

Still, I feel for the Midwest. Those temps are just crazy. Good luck all!
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:01 PM on January 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Just went out on my driveway for a few minutes. There’s a very mild breeze, so the -21F temperature only feels like -35. The stars are bright.

Now I’m heating up a TV dinner, removed from a freezer that’s kept 20 degrees warmer than my deck is right now.
posted by Autumnheart at 7:04 PM on January 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

Now I’m heating up a TV dinner, removed from a freezer that’s kept 20 degrees warmer than my deck is right now.

Isn't that the weirdest thing to think about? I did a season of curling when I lived in Wisconsin, and there were a couple weeks where I had to go out when it was -8 or so, to go stand around on a sheet of ice where it was much warmer.
posted by LionIndex at 7:11 PM on January 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

When my power went out earlier I joked to my mom over text "do you think I should open my fridge doors so my food doesn't spoil?"
posted by phunniemee at 7:18 PM on January 30, 2019 [10 favorites]

Not far from Toronto myself, and I just took the garbage out to the curb (in shorts, because I am of course, quite mad). The crunching snow underfoot is lovely, the nostril hairs freezing together is novel, and the wind is hellish. Windchill brings the current barely tolerable -18 C down to about -33 C, which is dangerously close to the magic point of -40. -40 is variously known as "the point where you no longer need to specify Fahrenheit or Celsius" and "O God why hast thou forsaken us?"

When my power went out earlier I joked to my mom over text "do you think I should open my fridge doors so my food doesn't spoil?"

I have been pleased on my visits to the Ice Hotel just outside Quebec City to note that they have a refrigerator in the bar area, in a building made entirely of snow and ice. The refrigerator, naturally, is used to keep beverages warm enough that they do not freeze.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:23 PM on January 30, 2019 [14 favorites]

Aaand I just got an emergency notice from the power company asking to lower my heat to 65 until Friday. I've never gotten such a thing before. But I live in an apartment building with baseboard heaters (powered by a central boiler) that only adjust to numbers 1-5; I have no idea where 65 is.
posted by LionIndex at 7:34 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Me too, LionIndex! I don't mind dropping it a bit tomorrow since I control my own thermostat. I'm just glad to not be out in it/

The weird thing happening here is the banging of the roof and the soffits as they shrink. It's surprisingly loud- I thought something heavy had fallen outside the first time it happened.
posted by Mouse Army at 7:48 PM on January 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

St. Paul checking in, I was initially annoyed our daycare abruptly 180’d from “we’ll be open for the cold snap!” to “uhhhhh...well, on second thought...” at the 11th hour, but it is truly brutally cold and neither one of our cars will start anyway, so it’s a moot point. Supposed to hit -30F tonight, and a touch colder than that with windchill.

We spent the day with our three year old baking scones, watching movies, and playing with blocks, while the baby mostly chewed on anything she could grab. We did get a notice to lower our heat to 63 tonight to save gas, but this is an old house and I’ve got a five month old baby with a cold so I think best we can do is 66.

We live in a 100+ year old house with big cast iron hot water radiators, and until today I always wondered why there was one stubby, small radiator under the kitchen sink. The counter and cupboards block a lot of its heat and it’s not in an optimal location to be warming people. Then today I realized it’s probably there by design to help keep water pipes from freezing - the sink and radiator are on an exterior wall.
posted by castlebravo at 7:56 PM on January 30, 2019 [7 favorites]

....Apologies for that, and I plead complete ignorance.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 PM on January 30, 2019

Aaand I just got an emergency notice from the power company asking to lower my heat to 65 until Friday.

It's a Michigan thing! Apparently there was a facility fire and they are concerned it will cause instability in the supply grid.
posted by Preserver at 8:39 PM on January 30, 2019

Also, I learned in the other thread that there is a Minnesotan mefite named Gray Duck and that is pretty much my favorite thing that's ever happened on metafilter

Oh fer nice!!!

I'm getting kind of worried about gas in MN - Xcel energy in central MN said that they were having a hard time keeping up with demand, and could people please turn their thermostats down to 60. Then tonight they spread that request to the whole state.

Well, we keep the house at 64 in the day/58 at night in the winters already, and we're pretty hardy folk (with a heated mattress pad and a real furball of a dog). Any lower than 58 and my plants start to die...I've tested it! Our furnace is chugging along hard just to keep the house at 58. I think about my dad, who is scheduled for heart surgery, and my mother and sister who are tiny bird-women who wear turtlenecks and vests year round. Ordinarily I'd say "you keep it at normal for you and we'll lower ours, we'll split the difference" but we're about as low as we can go without literally being cold enough to kill my plants indoors.

Well, it'll be over soon and hopefully Xcel learns what needs to happen in order to keep us all reasonably warm in cold snaps like this.
posted by Gray Duck at 8:45 PM on January 30, 2019 [9 favorites]

LionIndex — I went to college in GR (KCAD), and I can’t figure out to get off the school closing text alert system over a decade after I graduated. When I lived there, classes were only cancelled one time that I can remember and it’s because flames were shooting out of the manhole covers on the streets surrounding the school. So I knew shit was bad this week when I got a bunch of alerts that the school was closed this whole week! I definitely had a bit of a “back in my day, we walked miles uphill in the cold to get to class” reaction to the closing but hope most everything is closed this week for safety. Glad to hear you’re accustomed to the cold!

During the coldest winter in a lovely but under-heated apartment on Heritage Hill I lived in my senior year, I used to crank the tiny gas stove up to 500, crack open the door, and kept a pot of boiling water going on the stove at almost all times. I was too poor to buy a hot water bottle so I heated up the same couple foil wrapped potatoes to sleep with night after night, and I would take a few looooong hot showers a day to thaw. I feel for everyone who is going through this cold spell. My mom lives in the country in Northern Michigan and thinks it’s funny that I keep checking on her, but I worry for everyone I know and all the Mefites dealing with this cold (and the heat wave down under). Glad to hear how y’all are doing.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 8:58 PM on January 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Seen online this evening:
The production of Hamilton in Chicago tonight was cancelled due to extreme weather conditions resulting from the polar vortex.

So once again, Brrrr kills Hamilton.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:12 PM on January 30, 2019 [31 favorites]

there's an icy draft on my butt and i can't figure out where it's coming from and i'm under like 87 blankets so i have concluded that my butt is in fact haunted
posted by poffin boffin at 12:25 AM on January 31, 2019 [18 favorites]

Near Sydney and it's so warm overnight I just lay on top of the made bed, ceiling fan on full blast.

I keep a throw nearby for the early hours of the morning but the cat has been sleeping on it and if I try to grab it I get HALP HALP HALP! from the kitty which is really confusing to my sleep addled brain and makes me feel like I'm dealing with an emergency and not just being a human adult trying to add a blanket.

Cool change came through tonight so woohoo, might get some decent sleep!

Stay warm, snow people.
posted by kitten magic at 1:37 AM on January 31, 2019 [6 favorites]

Even though Pittsburgh has a wind chill advisory until 5 tonight, I don't really feel like I should complain about the cold here. -15 to -20 F is nowhere near as bad as folks farther north have it. We had our bad snow a few weeks ago, and then it warmed back up, so the streets are pretty clear.

I spent pretty much all day yesterday in bed anyway, since it's my weekend. Now I'm halfway through baking impromptu improvised oatmeal cookies, and it turns out that substituting ground up oatmeal for wheat flour makes for a very crumbly cookie.

Everybody stay safe out there.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:09 AM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

Chicago area - With careful and serious layering I was able to walk to work yesterday and only felt the cold on the middle of my face. I was surprised my lashes didn't stick together because I recall that happening last time we had weather like this. There was NO ONE out in my neighborhood yesterday morning. It was very quiet and sunny and weirdly not that bad (I wore a LOT of clothes!). Only three people showed up at work. I'll be going in today but I'm not sure how much worse it will be with the snow later on. Also, I don't know how it's possible, but I didn't encounter much ice as I expected, yesterday. That was the thing I was worried about. I wonder if that will happen today/tonight.
posted by marimeko at 2:13 AM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

I was talking to a mate who's working in the outback at the moment. I'll just leave this here so you people freezing your appendages off can think about it and feel warm: he drove through Port Augusta a week or two ago when it was 49C and from then on drove at night out of fear for the health of his car, though it was only dropping down to 38 overnight. The 49C is just over 120F, the nighttime temp is still over 100.

We do hot but this summer is brutal in a lot of parts. Weeks over 45C for some people I know.
posted by deadwax at 2:46 AM on January 31, 2019 [7 favorites]

is it a dry heat though, or is it as wet and nasty as satan's own moist taint
posted by poffin boffin at 3:30 AM on January 31, 2019

Please spare thought for the UK, where tonight we are forecast upwards of 1cm of snow which will, somehow, cause roughly the same level of distuption as the North American polar vortex.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:46 AM on January 31, 2019 [23 favorites]

Apparently in an attempt to be a good citizen and turn my heat down, I accidentally turned it OFF and woke up to a thermostat that said 49 degrees in the house. Luckily for me, my house is super heat-retentive, so the upstairs is much warmer than the downstairs and still pretty comfortable. Presumably that’s enough thriftiness for Xcel Energy, because my thermostat’s going back up to 68.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:33 AM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

Anybody out there sculpting frozen pants?
posted by GrammarMoses at 5:25 AM on January 31, 2019 [6 favorites]

Not Midwest cold, but it was 2 degrees when I left home this morning. Wind chill around -16. I think I was the only person in the office who biked in, but I may have found my limit.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:36 AM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Last night after French class my friend and I were walking to the subway and she suggested, "Let's yell the whole way, it'll make us feel better."

Reader, it did not.

(It was about -18 C, which feels a lot worse in the windy dark than -19 felt when I left my apartment on this bright calmer morning.)
posted by wellred at 5:43 AM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

Greetings from Pennsylvania, where I've only taught one class all week because Tuesday through Thursday were all cancelled.

I have been going in anyway, since the announcements about "actually we're closed again" have been coming later than my normal arrival time. The lack of classes has made it a weirdly productive lab cleaning week. The three previous occupants of this space all left their unwanted gear and trash, and I have had a months-long lab KonMari to sort through all of it.

The lab is also about 30 degrees warmer than my office, which is in a hallway with some heating issues and big windows. I haven't braved the cold yet to get into my office, but I am very excited* to see if I've hit a new record low in there.

*for certain values of excited
posted by pemberkins at 5:47 AM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

I am very proud of my little house, which made it through last night with the pipes and furnace intact. Hang in there, little house! Just a few more hours of this, and by 3:00 PM it will be above 0. Saturday and Sunday are going to be above freezing, which will make for a change.

Assuming my car will start, I'm going in to work today. It started yesterday, although it wasn't too happy about it.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:02 AM on January 31, 2019 [6 favorites]

Anybody out there sculpting frozen pants?

That's fun, but my more pressing question is why do those newscasters have a cheese and charcuterie board on their desk? And popcorn?

My daughter's dorm doesn't have a dining hall in it (it's the oldest dorm on campus) and the closest one is a few minutes' walk away, so she and her friends organized a potluck in their common room/kitchen. The video she sent me was really cute.

And yes, my son did have classes and he did go to them. Craziness.
posted by cooker girl at 6:16 AM on January 31, 2019 [6 favorites]

Back at work today, but a lot of people are still out. It was -22F when I left my house, not factoring in wind chill. My downstairs tub faucet appears to be partially frozen, and so does the drain. I did some exploring in the basement, and indeed between the basement ceiling and the bathroom floor where all the pipes pass through is wicked drafty, so shoving some insulation up there and wrapping the pipes will be my weekend project. We had the same issue last year. And, if the pipes burst, it's over a shitty part of the basement with not much in it, concrete floors, and the floor drain is right there, so I'm not super concerned.

One cool thing I noticed walking from my car to my work today was that it's so cold, any moisture in the air is in the form of tiny ice crystals, so the air sparkles in the sun. Glitter air! It's really pretty.
posted by Fig at 6:37 AM on January 31, 2019 [13 favorites]

Please spare thought for the UK, where tonight we are forecast upwards of 1cm of snow which will, somehow, cause roughly the same level of distuption as the North American polar vortex.

Best of luck. Hope it goes OK.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:53 AM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

I remembered to get up and turn the faucets on about an hour after I attempted to go to bed, but they didn't freeze overnight so I count that a victory. My wife has a cold so she's staying home today and I'm... well, I'm working from the usual comfort of my office, which is exceedingly well-heated when we use the furnace instead of the woodstove, so I suspect I'll be fine. I'm going to have to keep the shades drawn, though, between the palpable radiant cold and the glare off the snow.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:04 AM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Please spare thought for the UK...

Thoughts and prayers, my friends, thoughts and prayers. (Because I am keeping my wool and cocoa for myself! :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:06 AM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best of luck. Hope it goes OK.

Feels more like 0K, amirite?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:14 AM on January 31, 2019 [12 favorites]

I was dreading the return to work today in Minneapolis. The University closed yesterday, but it's still butt cold and all yesterday's meetings got pushed to today. Thankfully, everyone decided that today was also a silly day to leave the house and most of us are working from home. I'm not thrilled about how many meeting have landed on Friday, but thankful that I can stay snuggled up under this heated blanket with these additional heaters.
posted by advicepig at 7:24 AM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

Please spare thought for the UK, where tonight we are forecast upwards of 1cm of snow which will, somehow, cause roughly the same level of distuption as the North American polar vortex.

Everyone's hardest struggle is their hardest struggle. Be well.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:24 AM on January 31, 2019 [21 favorites]

My office is open today so I'm taking a vacation day, because it's still -25F here without the windchill and I'm not going to wait for the bus and walk several blocks in this - it's not warmer than yesterday, when we closed for the cold. I'll go in tomorrow, when the February heatwave is starting - we're expected to get up to +45F on Saturday, of all things.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:38 AM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Boston is really not even that cold, but I was stuck on a disabled red line train this morning - nearly an hour delay. And I believe there were disabled Commuter Rail trains as well. Our infrastructure is such a mess.
posted by peacheater at 7:51 AM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

"Please spare thought for the UK, where tonight we are forecast upwards of 1cm of snow which will, somehow, cause roughly the same level of distuption as the North American polar vortex."

Hey, if you're not set up for snow, you're not set up for snow!

My parents split their time between Chicago and North Carolina, and my mom vastly prefers to winter in Chicago, which people are like "but whyyyyyyyy?" and she's like "because it's freaking freezing in NC because nothing is insulated, the heat's electric, and even a little snow shuts down the whole county for three days!" Chicago is much yuckier outside, but the houses are insulated, the heat is gas, and we have many many plows.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:52 AM on January 31, 2019 [12 favorites]

Our city buses are giving free rides today to get people off the cold sidewalks as much as possible.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:54 AM on January 31, 2019 [6 favorites]

I had a table at a career fair at Syracuse University last night when the school and the event closed early because of the weather. It's extremely rare for SU to close due to weather so that's my mark of how bad it was here.
posted by maurice at 8:48 AM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

"because it's freaking freezing in NC because nothing is insulated, the heat's electric, and even a little snow shuts down the whole county for three days!"

I'm in Raleigh and my band cancelled practice last night because it was too cold - in the 20s by 8pm! Horrors. I'm from the Midwest and will never get over my amusement at how the South handles winter, but I'm pretty grateful to not live in an actually cold place, too.
posted by something something at 9:38 AM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you ever spent time in Amherst, you probably saw the homeless guy with the ginormous dreads that everyone called Larry. They found Larry dead in a bus shelter today. Pax.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:45 AM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

Here in DC it really hasn't been that bad; the coldest days have been sunny. Still pretty cold for here, but certainly nothing like they're getting by the lakes.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:55 AM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

PNW checking in: can we please have our clouds and rain back? I think the Midwest might he hoarding all of them and it's way too warm for this time of year.

Stay warm!
posted by loquacious at 10:09 AM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

My super has been contacted and will be coming over mid-afternoon with the mechanic to have a look at my heat. Huzzah.

Also, I suspect that the horribly drafty windows have had something to do with this. I've been needing new windows for the entire decade I lived here - they're poorly sealed, they've got drafts all around all four sides, and in some cases the top pane doesn't even stay closed all the way up. My super has been nagging the landlord that my building needs new windows, but so far no dice; I think he sees an opportunity for a break in the case now, becuase he's encouraged me to get some kind of draft block stuff from the hardware store and save the receipt for him so he can reimburse me. Then I think he's going to slap that receipt and the bill for the heating guy down on the landlord's desk all, "so we can either keep paying THIS over and over every winter, or we can get new windows. Your call."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:27 AM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Heh... So - this is "nothing" for citizens of my current client (Nunavut)...

However, I mostly work remotely from home (Southern Ontario), which is generally ok, but with this "arctic vortex", the house has been getting slowly colder - can't get it above 20c today. Cannot even get my basement office fireplace pilot lit, let alone keep it on - am thinking that natural gas is being consumed like crazy and the system is overloaded.

... But... working from home is proving to be challenging, because my internet has been going down 8-12 times a day for the last few days... (always hear the groans from the family upstairs nearly immediately - we have no cable and only do Netflix/Hulu)

... And the poor dogs have absolutely no interest in going into the yard to "do their business", even with various booties and jackets deployed (150llb "Daniff" in what amounts to a horse-blanket looking confused (well, that is his default look anyways), is a very silly sight)...

I know it's gauche to say, but when I was a teen in the 80's and first heard of "Global Warming" while living in Northern Canada, my only thought was "bring it on baby"...
posted by jkaczor at 10:40 AM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

I'm really incredibly grateful that we now have a decent process for handling at least some of our meetings when people work from home--only like three people were in the office yesterday, and I don't even know why those people were. But the consequence of that is that while it was apparently brutal out, the worst that I had to deal with was going to get my Amazon packages from the unheated-but-enclosed front hall. I'm so glad at least we got a shorter burst of it than a lot of places. By this morning it was above 0F when I left for work, which is unpleasant but not something where I worry about driving anywhere.

My youngest cat of course still spent most of yesterday sitting between the blinds and the windows to watch outside, but she was really glad I was home so she could keep coming and warming her paws back up on me.
posted by Sequence at 11:16 AM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

There was an hour delay in my corner of RI but the cold isn’t terrible. What IS terrible, at least for me, is that these rapid changes in temperature trigger migraines. I’ve already used my allotted migraine spray for the week, and because of a medical procedure early next week, I can’t take any NSAIDs. So I’m home from work today, keeping my feet warm under my dog.
posted by Ruki at 11:24 AM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

Can I delete my last comment? Looks like we will also possibly getting snow this weekend.

But, eh, I'm actually kind of looking forward to it because we haven't had any at all so far this year.
posted by loquacious at 12:28 PM on January 31, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another Minnesotan checking in.

Haven't set foot outside the house in three days. It got down to 30 below last night and I am waiting at least another day before I try and start my old car. I live in an older house, and was slightly worried about it, but it's handled the cold with no problems so far. Waiting for the water to get hot is another story.

The astonishing part is that it's supposed to be in the mid 40's (above, haha) and rainy this weekend, and that's a full 70 degree difference in like 72 hours. I have no idea what that's going to do to the roads or my car or the house's windows, some of which are completely iced over.

My heart goes out to the transit workers who are working to keep at least some of Minneapolis going during this hideous cold.
posted by Sphinx at 12:42 PM on January 31, 2019 [5 favorites]

Thanks for the post, Johnny W. And for noting that Australia is baking. I went out to clear the driveway yesterday in @15F, not much wind, and wearing many layers. Somebody on MeFi recommended Snow Joe electric snow blowers, so I got one, and it does a fine job, though it does take a while to do my @ 50' driveway, and the cord is a nuisance but manageable. A while later, the squall line came through and it was all wind-whipped snow, and I may have to do it again. Meanwhile, I just keep the wood stove going. It was 1F when I let the dog out this morning, and he lasted about 2 minutes, even in a sweater. New England has had lots of cold this January, and I don't love it, but the Chicago/ Midwest temps are bitter; nobody should have to leave the house when its below 0F. The days are appreciably longer, the sun is higher in the sky. Stay warm and safe.
posted by theora55 at 1:14 PM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

Suffice it to say, I did not pick the greatest week to come to New York
posted by The Gooch at 2:20 PM on January 31, 2019 [5 favorites]

We're in the Mid-Atlantic, so haven't been getting it nearly as rough as the Midwest. But even yesterday, it was cold enough that we took the kid to preschool in the minivan my parents' left at our house while they're on vacation, except JOKE IS ON U, MOM AND DAD, because the sliding doors were frozen shut and we couldn't figure out how to get to the ice that was holding them shut and we had COMMITTED TO GOING IN BY CAR, BY GUM.

So it was a fun bit of convincing our two year old in full winter gear to cooperate to climb over the center console to the second row of seats where his car seat was, and then climb up into his car seat and stay there so I could climb back there and buckle him, and then reverse the process when it was time to get out of the car.

But he was a champ about it. And apparently, since there wasn't preschool today, they just stayed at home in the even more bitter cold, and played games. And when "Puff the Magic Dragon" came on the Spotify playlist, my husband got a little teary over the part about how dragons live forever, but not so little boys, and the kid saw him. And ran up saying, "I love you, Daddy!" And hugged him around the knees.

So there are consolations.
posted by joyceanmachine at 2:50 PM on January 31, 2019 [12 favorites]

My brother-in-law is a delightful fellow. Here is his matter-of-fact mid-day text update from the small Iowa college where he works:

Our admissions suite just flooded due to frozen sprinkler pipes. It’s quite a mess.

It was -27F there when he woke up. Gah! And that doesn’t factor in the wind chill. How anyone endures these temps is beyond me. Stay warm, Midwestern US MeFites.
posted by cheapskatebay at 3:18 PM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

something blew up and the new governor axsed us michaganders to dial to °65. The auto plants shut down for a bit to save on energy. People frickin freaking about President Jackanapes and his wee band of future felons. Business is hurting and I avoid an accident everytime I go over the Flint city line. If gas weren't so cheap, I'd say it's the 1970s.

The DNR just released a bulletin, you can collect wood on state government land!

Saturday it supposed to be °40.
posted by clavdivs at 3:38 PM on January 31, 2019 [4 favorites]

So, not gonna crab about a measly -7°.
posted by clavdivs at 3:39 PM on January 31, 2019

Adventures in heating!

My super finally arrived at my apartment with a mechanic (while I was out for the one meeting I had that day) to investigate. I came home an hour later, to find that the baseboards were throwing off....a little heat. My super was still there and came to check on me about 5 minutes later, and I told him that "well, the head is SORT OF on..." he came with me to lay hands on each and every baseboard, finding that the baseboards had indeed been faintly warm in spots but were cooling.

And he explained that he and the mechanic had indeed tried to bleed my baseboards, but instead of a gush of air or water, what came out was a trickle of cold water. So somewhere along the baseboard running the whole circumference of my apartment, there's a bit where the water in the pipes froze. Which is being exacerbated by the fact that I'm on the top floor, where the water pressure from the boiler has to work extra hard to come up.

So we came up with the following game plan.

* We made sure all the windows were fully closed. I will be further getting some draft block tomorrow.
* He is downstairs trying to see if he can bump up the pressure from the water from the boiler.
* Meanwhile, I have rounded up two space heaters and am blowing them full-blast against the baseboards underneath the leakiest windows, one at one end of the apartment and one at the other, in an effort to thaw out whereever the frozen bit might be.

....A moment ago I heard a gurgle in the baseboard in the bathroom - which is a separate unit from the set under the windows - so there's some progress.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:16 PM on January 31, 2019 [11 favorites]

Man, nobody checking in from California.

The weather is fine, the state is no longer on fire but one of biggest electrical and gas utilities is declaring bankruptcy. And we have a new state surgeon general.

My kid in Waterloo ON is flying home this weekend for unrelated reasons. I'm sure he'll enjoy the change.
posted by GuyZero at 4:20 PM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Chicago area update: Left work late this afternoon and the temp was “up to” 0 with no wind. Almost felt warm compared to yesterday! (Note that I said “almost “)
posted by bookmammal at 5:30 PM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

They found Larry dead in a bus shelter today. Pax.

More about Larry; probably will be paywalled soon. I was glad to see that people were trying to help him to the end.

Of course there's also something to be said about how there are so many homeless people who aren't as... photogenic?... as Larry was, or who were more annoying or more upsetting or scarier or just darker-skinned, and who don't get even the casual acceptance Larry did and that almost nobody tries to help. But today I just want to be sad that Larry died.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 6:45 PM on January 31, 2019 [5 favorites]

Damn, Larry sounds like quite the individual. Thank you for posting that. I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:47 PM on January 31, 2019

Well, I didn't speak to the man more than a bare handful of times. I just saw him on and off, generally at one of our local grocery stores, and biscotti saw him frequently at the local timmy's. And many times I'd see him and think how of course this was only ever going to end badly, like it did.

All of which is to say that I can't claim to have cared about him except in the abstract or as a passing thought. There's lots of people who work at the Timmy's, or what's now the Tops, or the McDonald's down the street who saw him most every shift and who'll miss him for himself.

The storm/cold-snap killed two other people around here, both clearing snow.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 8:36 PM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Chicago adjacent update: I’m in NZ but I still have a place in Edgewater Glen, north side neighbourhood. My tenants are toasty warm; so glad I updated all the windows with double-glazing. Radiators are apparently pouring out heat. My parents live near Joliet and appear to be warm enough too. I had groceries delivered to them a few days ago so they wouldn’t be tempted to leave the house.

As for Wellington : it’s been warmer and more humidity than usual. It was 26-28C two days ago. But the temp has been dropping all day and the winds are lashing again.

Stay warm and safe, North America. Stay cool and hydrated, Oz. Hugs.
posted by lemon_icing at 10:21 PM on January 31, 2019 [3 favorites]

Meanwhile a bit further south (coastal) in NZ, the weather has been weird to say the least for 3months. We have an ongoing week-by-week peak-trough weather cycle. Peaks involve a week of record\near-record high temps (28 to ~34C), strong fohns, and low humidity. Troughs can be 10C or less, overnight lows of 4C (in our latest peak we've had overnights of 26C) and cold, wet southerly winds, rain mainly in torrential amounts.

This morning in Dunedin the temp plunged from 26 to 16 in an hour and a half. But with all the rain my gardens are all doing well so there's that - normally an El Nino here is serious drought, not this time.
posted by unearthed at 12:48 AM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh my god, it's 20F here and it feels AMAZING. it doesn't hurt to exist! Salt works to melt snow! Liquid water exists outside! I'm never complaining of cold at temps over -15 again ! (That last one is probably a lie.)
posted by Fig at 10:30 AM on February 1, 2019 [13 favorites]

Took my son's cat to the vet way up in the 'burbs this morning and the roads were just horrible. It's so much fun trying to pilot a Honda Fit on narrow, twisty hilly roads in a snow storm while tortoise shell cat screams at you the whole way. There's no setting on Google Maps to tell it to not take you up a 15% grade hill that hasn't been plowed yet.

Made it alive and the kitty is going to be fine although she apparently only has one good kidney.
posted by octothorpe at 11:08 AM on February 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I had a little pipe that froze! But it was fine. Basically I am down in MA from the frigid northern climes of Vermont where we have 18" of snow on the ground. Down here it's just weird brown grasslike stuff. And not that cold, only 10 or so (which, yes, is cold but it's not like "Do crazy heroics" cold). So I got here around 9 pm and chatted with Jim for a few hours and then went to bed with the electric sheets on. And I went to pour myself some water to take a pill and ... nothing. Flushed the toilet and... nothing. Now, I could go downstairs and get running water so it seemed like the water was working but the4se pipes were not. So... I willed myself to go to sleep and not get out the hair dryer because realistically speaking I had already taken my medicine and the heat was now above 50 (we leave it low when we're not home) and I just had to wait.

I am actually down in MA both to watch the Big Game with my sister but also because the Mass Save people were coming to do an energy audit of my dad's place (my summer place). So they went over the house with a fine toothed comb today, gave me a lot of LED light bulbs, and peeked at the insulation in that part of the house (found a giant wasp's nest, eeeeee) and said "Yeah this could be better" and thanks to their efficiency programs, we can get the insulation improved for 90% off. Very excited. Also this afternoon the water came back on. And it's 20-ish here now and I think for us the worst is over.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:55 PM on February 1, 2019 [5 favorites]

jessamyn, sounds like you’re getting the same deal we did from Mass Save. We ended up adding insulation to our condo along with our upstairs condo neighbors and it ended up being only a couple hundred dollars for our share! It felt like a sweet deal!
posted by peacheater at 5:43 PM on February 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Mass Save is an incredible program and absolutely every person in Massachusetts who owns a house should do it. Absolute worst case scenario, you get free LED lightbulbs (they install them for you but they don't throw away your old bulbs, you can put them back later if you must) and programmable thermostats. Best case scenario, you get tons of free or nearly-free efficiency upgrades (like better insulation) which will start saving you money pretty much immediately. Every state should have a program like Mass Save. It should be nationwide. It is amazing and everyone should do it, there's zero downside.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:51 PM on February 1, 2019 [6 favorites]

Yesterday it was zero degrees Celsius here and sleeting, and this morning it had dropped to -13 and it had snowed 25 cm. So after brushing the snow off our car we discovered it had basically been encased in an ice shell that had to be chipped away.

Snowed all day and another 15 cm is expected tonight with a wind chill of -34. The roads are a mess--one of our main roads was so slippery I nearly drove into a light pole, and I was maybe going 25 km an hour. I was a nervous wreck by the time I got where I was going!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 8:06 PM on February 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

I still technically don't have heat despite the various baseboards getting their own private heating system. But I've heat-insulated two of the draftiest windows, and we will be getting higher temperatures in a couple days. I continue to study the floors and do not see any wet spots, so even if something froze, either it's only inside the pipe and isn't going to crack the pipe itself, or it's somewhere between the boiler (in the basement, and my super brought me down there to personally confirm it is working) and my apartment (on the 4th floor).

And the warm spell we're getting over the next couple days will not only thaw out the pipes, it will render the need for heat moot. Ah well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:51 AM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

update the icy butt draft is in fact nerve damage and i am outraged

i want haints
posted by poffin boffin at 5:30 PM on February 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

My child has not been to school in a week and a chicken has frostbite.

Polar vortex is over now though. It was pretty darn pleasant today, almost all the snow melted. I'm hoping my chicken's poor comb comes through okay. The internet doesn't really have much advice beyond "don't mess with it and keep an eye out for infection."

My sainted mother wins the MVP for the week. She watched my kid all. damn. week. Yesterday I called her as I was literally standing outside his school because they'd gone from a 2 hour delay to closed as I was driving (everything I needed to do yesterday got cancelled about 15 minutes after it would have been useful for me to know about it). We got her a bottle of Laphroaig for her efforts.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:57 PM on February 2, 2019 [5 favorites]

I just went outside. 7 degrees C. It's like our house has been transplanted from Greenland to North Carolina.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 10:35 AM on February 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

It is now warm enough to leave the house but also too warm to convincingly wrap my face in a scarf so I have missed the "going out without caring what my face looks like" window. Mother Nature is such a $@(©%$.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:03 AM on February 3, 2019 [3 favorites]

Welp, I got my wish and/or jinxed myself and there's about 2" of snow sticking on the ground outside, and I can see about twice that falling before morning. And it's a balmy 30-34 ish.

This is actually may be a huge problem around here because we don't have the plows and trucks to deal with it and at these relatively warm temps it's all very wet and slushy and is going to freeze into slick, wet icy slushy mess.
posted by loquacious at 3:04 PM on February 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here being Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound and/or Seattle.
posted by loquacious at 3:04 PM on February 3, 2019

It went down to -30 C over the weekend, -40 with windchill. On the plus side, I experienced way fewer hot flashes, so there's that.

It's gone up to -20 C. Feels downright balmy in comparison.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:12 PM on February 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Snow stayed on the ground last night in Oakland.

Stay strong, O-town.
posted by GuyZero at 7:39 AM on February 5, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yesterday was a really bad day for icy streets in Minneapolis: Bloomington salt truck slides down icy hill (w/pictures & video)
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:00 AM on February 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Oh hai, this Minneapolitan has been bragging about how well our metro area handles crap weather, and then today I had to take a cat to the emergency vet in a snowstorm, aka snow dust on ICE-ICE-ICEY-ICE. Hello, humility. If you feel inclined to light a candle or send a good thought out for sassy torbie cats with long white belly skirts we would be ever so thankful. <3
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:03 PM on February 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

Oh, ice, terrible, may you all be well.

Seattle has its annual inch of snow -- more than that, actually -- the main streets are reasonably dry but the sidewalks in the shade turn into ice-patches immediately. `Cascade concrete' snow compacts into ice under each footstep. But at some point Seattle apparently forgot about shoveling sidewalks -- I did my whole block, my side anyway, because I'm near a busline and I know we get plenty of walking commuters. Also the mail! And UPS! Who don't have a choice about being out on the slippery sidewalks! And I don't think I heard anyone else shoveling off anything but their own cars.

So at least the deliverypeople were pleased to see me, but it seems like poor civicism. (Given the number of snow-sport racks, stickers, and tags on vehicles on the street, there are probably plenty of people with the energy and warm clothes to be capable.)
posted by clew at 9:07 PM on February 5, 2019 [3 favorites]

Went and found a pair of Yaktrax traction cleats I got long ago. They work great on icy surfaces.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:21 PM on February 5, 2019 [4 favorites]

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