Due to the Weather: Ways the Elements Affect Our Lives

By Abraham Resnick | Go to book overview

17
TEMPERATURES (COLD)

A "cold temperature" is a very subjective term. It could mean the temperature felt by the human body, called the sensible temperature. It could infer the free air temperature of the atmosphere. Cold temperatures are in the main caused by one or more of the following climatic controls: (1) latitude, (2) site and situation, (3) land or water proximity, (4) seasonal and diurnal changes in relationship to the sun, (5) pressure belts, (6) air mass characteristics and movements, (7) ocean currents, (8) topography, (9) wind direction and velocity, (10) elevation, (11) humidity, or (12) radiation of sun and earth.

For people living in cold climates or for those experiencing a winter cold wave, there is frequently an attempt made to describe how cold they feel. Such expressions as "deep freeze," "numb with cold," "bone chilling," or "shivering cold" are cliches that are used to reinforce their comparisons, sometimes as a benevolent warning to friends and relatives to stay indoors during the subfreezing weather. The well-meaning intentions would probably go unheeded by people in places like Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, or most certainly Siberia ("the refrigerator of the world"), where very severe cold temperatures last for months on end and are a condition they have become acclimated to.

Some of the lowest known temperatures in the world occur in Verkhoyansk in the Yakut region of Siberia. The average there is -58 degrees F in January, but an occasional "high" reading of -90 degrees F (in this case high means low) during that month would fail to startle the local weather observer. Oymyakon, Siberia, holds the record for being the coldest inhabited place in the world. The temperature reached -96 degrees F there in 1964. A temperature of -128 degrees F was recorded at research station Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983, a place too cold for human settlement. It is quite obvious that no matter where you live in Asia, north of 55 degrees latitude, it is impossible to escape the snow and cold of the infamous Siberian or Russian winter.

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