If you like variety in your life, northeastern North Carolina is the place to be for weather. You just have to wait a few minutes, and the weather will change.
As I write this column, we are on alert waiting for a winter storm named Janus that some forecasters have predicted will be an old-fashioned Nor’easter plus a little snow. No doubt, it will cause chaos as people empty the stores of bread and milk, and schools will be closed.
Last year, the Weather Channel began naming storms that they predict will break records or will likely be memorable events. This year’s names were the project of a high school Latin class in Bozeman, Mont. Atlas, Boreas, Cleon, Dion, Electra, Falco, Gemini, Hercules, and Ion have already made their marks.
Weather is a relative thing. What is hazardous snowfall in Elizabeth City does not get any attention in Boston. Hot weather in North Carolina is just warm in Phoenix. Weather forecasters have long tried to devise a way to describe conditions with terminology that can be measured.
Terms like Polar Vortex, wind chill, and heat index are part of an attempt to equip us with scientific understanding. The thermometer was invented in the 16th century, and in the 18th century, the Fahrenheit scale was created. It was not until the 20th century that the wind chill factor made the numbers more meaningful by taking wind speed into consideration.
Meteorologists at AccuWeather have evaluated wind chill and concluded that since it does not take into account several other factors, it must be flawed. They have devised a new assessment called “Real Feel” which takes into account eight other elements such as sunlight.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) named the coldest places on the earth. They include three cities located in the United States.
International Falls, Minn. is called the “Icebox of the Nation” because it has the lowest average temperature ranging from 32 to 36 degrees Fahrenheit. Stanley, Idaho recorded the highest number of coldest days during a time period in the continental U.S. In 1971, Prospect Creek, Alaska recorded -78.16 F giving it the lowest temperature ever recorded in the U.S.
In 1947, Snag in the Yukon Territory of Canada measured -83.02F giving it the record for the lowest temperature recorded on North America. Vpstok, Antarctica reached -128.56F during July, 1983 making it the coldest place on earth.
Siberia is the home of three other coldest places. Yakutsk, the capital, recorded --83.92F and Verkhoyansk, near the Arctic Circle, recorded -96.16F. Oymyakon is the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth. Schools only close when the temperature drops below minus 61F, and people tend to leave their cars running all day so that they do not have to restart them.
Don’t be surprised if storms Kronos and Leon head our way soon, but we still won’t be the coldest place on earth, thank goodness.