Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On Snow Storms and Being Cold

Apparently Utah, where much of my family lives, is getting hammered with harsh snow storms right now. This reminded me of the fact that I tell people an "Oh, yeah? You think you've experienced cold weather?!" story when they tell me how cold something is. Well, I did a little research, and sure enough, my story has basis in fact!

For all my doubters, here goes the story with the evidence to follow:

Many of my older siblings went to the same university that I eventually attended. As a kid, they had always told me that the winters were harsh and when I was preparing to go, they suggested that I be ready for very cold times. So, I went there with "low" expectations, and wasn't disappointed.

I distinctly recall one morning waking up and it being bitterly cold. Not just cold-cold, but so-cold-your-face-freezes-solid-cold. My only means of transportation was a bicycle, which I used to get to and from class. That morning, I got up as usual, showered, then headed off to class. The snow that morning was (and I am totally not making this up) up to my waist! Biking wasn't really an option in that weather, so I began to trundle on my way to class on foot, pushing my way through the deep snow, leaving a collapsing trench behind me. The wind was blowing harshly out of the canyon above campus, with bitter cold air biting at every part of my body that was uncovered. I was too foolish to wear a hat, so my hair, slightly damp from my morning shower, literally froze solid. My face and cheeks went numb, my lungs hurt from breathing the cold air, and snow was sticking to my clothes, only breaking away where I was bending as I made my way toward my class.

Being a dutiful student, and also somewhat oblivious, I didn't notice that I was pretty much the only one headed to class that morning. It took me twice as long to get where I was going, but I was still on time! Upon arrival, I was most pleased to get inside and went to my classroom. There I found many of my classmates had also made it to class! (You go, unflappable and reliable engineering students!)

I took my seat and began to thaw out. I couldn't feel my nose and ears, but soon the numbness turned to pain as they began to warm. My hair started to drip as it thawed out, and my clothes began to soak through as the snow frozen to them began to melt. I was chilled and miserable, but I was present!

The only problem? The professor was not. The usual 20 minutes elapsed (again, we were engineering students, and we liked to learn, so we extended the traditional 15 minutes to 20 ...), and then we finally, slowly decided we should leave. I was not terribly happy to do so, and was perfectly content to stay at the engineering building, but alas, it was one of those days where I didn't have any more classes until later that afternoon, and I knew I wanted to eat sometime.

So, I steeled myself against the cold, and made my way back to my apartment. The trip home was worse than the trip there, because all the water that had melted and soaked into my clothes began to freeze. It was horrible. When I got back to my apartment, I stripped down and headed straight for a leisurely shower, where I enjoyed the hot water. I think I ate Raman noodles for lunch that day (hot) and probably macaroni and cheese for dinner (hot) and eschewed all things cold. What a day!

The funny thing was, I didn't know that the miserable weather was anything out of the ordinary. My siblings told me the winters were harsh, and so I just expected it to be that way. Because of that, to this day, I don't have a lot of sympathy for those who complain about the cold. I've been there, done that. And notice where I live now: sunny Southern California. I don't miss the snow. Sure, it's nice to visit and go sledding and all that, and it sure is pretty, but I actually have a choice, so I'll take the sand and the sun instead.

Okay, now the evidence: At this link, there is an article about the coldest winters in Utah. There, it states:

1993: A whopping 23.3 inches of snow fell at Salt Lake City International Airport, the greatest single storm total, between Jan 6-10. For the month of January, 50.3 inches of snow fell, an all time monthly record.

At this link here, check out the winter of 1992-1993, where it indicates that between November and February a total of 71.3 inches of snow fell on the city where my school was located. And here, it indicates that the total average temperature for those months was 24.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Yeah, it was cold. And I had no car, so I walked or biked everywhere. Ah, the memories ...


Courtney said...

I remember the cold there too. And nose hairs freezing! That was also when I decided it was no longer nerdy to wear the hood on my coat. :)

Ash and Brent said...

I remember a morning when I was waiting for the bus and my jeans LITERALLY froze. When the bus came it was full, so I had to wait for the next bus. I went home instead. I was not a diligent engineering student!


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