Thursday, January 22, 2015

January weather in North Dakota

When I awoke this morning in my hometown of McClusky, ND, I saw that for the second time in two days there was a half-inch of ice coating the bottom seal of my bedroom window. Despite two electric heaters running constantly, my kitchen floor was frigid. I fired up my portable propane heater to take the chill out of my kitchen.
Ice forms on a weeping birch.
Copyright: Gable C Rhoads

Even though I had run my dog's tie-out cable under the front door into my entryway, the cold 25-below-zero temperature had crept up the steel cable and the clasp was frozen shut. I used a lighter to de-ice the clasp as the cold burned my fingers. My 110 pound German Shepherd wasted no time doing his business when he confronted the 25-below-zero temps and a wind chill of minus 50.

The school board had wisely decided to close the schools due to the extreme cold and icy roads so I dropped my son off at Grandpa's house. As I left for work at the local grain elevator, I heard a loud snap. It wasn't a gunshot -- just a tree cracking from the cold.

The wind howled between the buildings at work and I turned my face away to avoid the stabbing pain. I was unable to unlock the door with my thick work gloves on and after a few seconds of fumbling with the keys bare-handed, I retreated to my pick-up to warm my stiff fingers. My second attempt to unlock the door was successful despite my numb hands.

The talk around the coffee pot at work was all about the extreme cold. Whose tractors couldn't be started? Who spent the morning thawing water pipes? How will the cattle fare and how many calves may be lost? Will the deer and pheasant populations be decimated as much as they were during the last extreme cold snap two decades ago?

But the talk in rural North Dakota always turns to the future. This morning it turned to this coming weekend. It will be 30 degrees above zero - shirt-sleeve weather!

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