Saturday, January 26, 2008

Musings on the CabinDwelling Life Part X: How Cold Is It?

No, I don't mean that as a rhetorical question posed to elicit cute responses like "It's so cold, the icicles have icicles" or anything like that.

But hey, feel free, you can always post one in the comment section.

What I'm talking about, my frozen Squarebanks companions and those of you fortunate-to-live-elsewhere, is the fact that I have three thermometers here at the cabin and they are giving me three different temperatures.

And we're not talking a two degree difference here. There is a 20 degree gap between the highest and the lowest reading one.

The new, eight dollar Ivory Jack's thermometer that goes to -100? As you can see, -40.

Which, alapaa, but the high reading one is reading a relatively balmy minus 26.

So, I really want to know, how cold is it? And I can't really say, although, according to the Nostril Hair Freezing Index, it is definitely colder than -26. The NHI, for those of you living elsewhere, merely describes how cold it is by taking into account how quickly one's nostril hairs freeze when one inhales. The NHI begins around zero degrees fahrenheit, the temperature where one begins to notice this occurance, and goes to, well, there is no low end of the Nostril Hair Index. After 15 years in state, my nostril hairs are telling me it is colder than -26.

For various reasons, the strongest one being my mild case of cabin fever, the discrepancy is really annoying me. What's the deal? The thermometers in question are all within a few feet of each other. They are all the same distance from the cabin. They are at virtually the same height.

It's not like I'm unfamiliar with the microclimate phenomenon here in the Valley. Elevation is the main factor, which is why all those folks living up in the hills in what we call the Banana Belt built their houses up there. They live above the ice fog. Smug bastards.

But it's not just that, because I have observed significant differences in temperature between places at the same elevation. At one location you might have -40. At another, -45. Less than a mile away, it might be -30. But you can't have a microclimate eight feet from your door.

I'd buy a fourth thermometer, but it'd probably give me a different reading.


Ishmael said...

The big round one probably has a way to twist the needle assembly to read what you want it to. Just to experiment, I'd turn it to match one of the others and see how long it keeps up. It's probably of coil-steel design, which is pretty unreliable.

I'm thinking you could call the National Weather Service and ask them what they recommend to their army of volunteer citizen weather observers as far as thermometers go....

The NWS and the snow-moisture-and-consistency test tell me it's just about 32 here right now.

Alaskan Dave Down Under said...


CabinDweller said...

Hmmm. Very good suggestions, Ish. I suppose I shouldn't expect a great deal from an 8 dollar thermometer. (But at least it is decorative, what with the whole going to -100 thing.)