November 30, 2022

Mid-West Weather

So, I was watching this video about British people not realizing how cold it gets in the United States and found it funny and inspiring at the same time, having lived extensively in both countries and understanding where each side was coming from.

Allow me to share a few of my winter temperature stories.

My first exposure (no pun intended) to the Mid-West winters was a week back in January 1994, during a work trip to our new office that was starting in Chicago, IL. It was seriously cold, extra windy and snowy. While the nickname "the windy city" for Chicago originated in the hot air produced by it's very active politics, the name fits well with its winter storms. Even though the temperatures were colder than typical for the United Kingdom, we British generally layer well, so with plenty of layers of warm clothing, and the warmest gloves I owned, I survived. I did so well, that I even accepted an offer to come back and have lived here over 28 years as I write this.

Next story. Living and working in Iowa, there were a couple of winters in a row where we got hit hard by the Polar Vortex. The temperatures went from cold to seriously and dangerously cold. The air temperatures were down to -30F (-34C) and then with windchill on top of that, the "feels like" temperature got down to -80F (-62C). I understand that these temperatures are difficult to imagine if you've never been through something like it. The best that I can offer is my recollection that during the time taken to walk from the front door to my vehicle the mucus membranes in my nose would start to freeze (let me assure you, that’s the weirdest feeling) and then would slowly defrost while I drove to work.

Next story. I'd moved from Iowa to Wisconsin and started with my new employer in late August, so I really began meeting people during the month of September. Wisconsin people are sincere and helpful and many of them would ask if anyone had warned me about the winters here. I would reply that I'd just moved here from Iowa and the consistent response would be "oh ... you'll be fine then". And indeed I was was. The winters here in the South West corner of Wisconsin are less cold than Iowa, but with more snow, so it all balances out.

Tags: Observations