Here we go again, back into the Deep Freeze. Mother Nature is such a tease. She gives us a couple of nice, sunny, relatively warm days to jog us out of the winter doldrums and make us believe that maybe, just maybe, the worst is over and we’ll soon be back to killing plants as soon as we put them in the ground and then she slaps us with a cold hand and screams, “Wake up! It’s still January you idiot!”
So here we are again on the weather roller coaster with temperatures expected to dip back down into the teens this week, meaning we once again have to decide which child or limb to sell to pay yet another astronomical utility bill next month. It also means we have to endure another round of nature’s version of waterboarding, letting the faucets drip all night.
But we here in the South have a saying about the weather, bless its heart, usually reserved for Northerners who wander too far south of the Mason-Dixon Line in the summer, bless their hearts, without an adequate supply of underarm deodorant.
It’s not the heat, we tell our northern neighbors, it’s the humidity.
I suspect they have a similar saying up north, one besides, “Yo! Put choos on a nutter layer!” I suspect it goes more like, “It’s not the cold, it’s the wind.”
And that’s true in both cases. Whether it’s summer or winter, it’s not the temperature alone that determines our comfort level.
Walk outside on a 90 degree day in the summer but with low humidity and it’s not so bad. Same in the winter, the 35 degrees showing on my thermometer was above freezing and wouldn’t have felt so bad if not for that northern gale blowing through. Or maybe it was a Debbie.
In the summer it’s not the wind that causes us to overheat, it’s the humidity. When the air becomes so saturated with moisture that sweat, our bodies’ natural cooling system and backbone of the deodorant industry, can’t evaporate, we get hotter. Not hotter in the sense that people are attracted to us, but hotter in the sense that people want to get farther away from us and hopefully downwind.
In the winter, however, just the opposite happens. When wind hits cold, exposed skin, it sucks all the heat out making us feel even colder than the actual air temperature.
Wind chill is determined by a complicated mathematical formula that takes into account the air temperature, the wind velocity and how long the weatherman can stay outside to measure them.
So, yes, it is cold again outside but then again it’s still just January. About the best we can hope for anytime in the near future is to be able to go outside and say, “Yes, it’s cold … but it’s not a windy cold.” That would certainly be an improvement over this blustery, wind-chill inducing stuff we’ve had lately.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.