Thursday, January 15, 2009

Just a bit chilly around here at the moment, and freezing rain and freezing gas/petrol.

Well on Wednesday it seems we went down to MINUS 30 oC with the wind chill, coldest it's been so far this year, well for our area. Back on January 4th, Edmonton, Alberta had temperatures down to MINUS 50 oC. Now that is cold, it's even cold enough that if you have moisture up your nose, that even freezes........too graphic?

However the funny thing is although it is cold, I always feel colder in Britain. Over here it is a dry cold, whereas in Britain it is a damp cold. I don't know if its because I am getting older, but the damp cold gets into my bones.

I know when my mother and step-father have been over in the winter, they say it's cold, but not bone chilling cold. The first winter we spent in Canada we (me and dh) walked around in our "winter" (really fall/autumn weight) jackets from Britain. We didn't find it that cold.

Now due to the fact that I am constantly having hot flashes, I rarely wear my winter coat. I must admit the furnace has been on an awful lot today, well a lot for us. I keep the heat on at 20 oC/78 oF, which I find comfortable. However most people who come to the house make sure they wear a sweater, as they find it cold. I am wandering around with a t-shirt on, and they are wearing a thick sweater!!!

Now for a couple of funny stories about the first winter when we arrived in Canada. So one morning, I go to start the car to warm it up before I go to work, and it wouldn't start. I am not mechanically minded and had NO IDEA what on earth could be wrong with it. Luckily our neighbour, Ben, was out and asked what was up and I tell him the car won't start. He asks me how much gas I have in my car and I tell him it was below half a tank. He says go and get your hairdryer????? So off I go and get it and we plug it in and he starts to blow dry these pipes in my car.

It turns out that the gas lines were frozen as I had let the gas tank go below half full and the condensation in the pipes had frozen. Now I know there is a more technical explanation, but that was all I understood. He gave me some anti-freeze for my gas tank, and told me to never let it go under half a tank.

Now fast forward on 19 years, anti freeze is now in gas in the winter, so no need to add it. However to this day I never ever let my gas tank go below half in the winter. I wish I had, had a video camera, as family back in Britain would have wondered what on earth I was doing blow drying my car!!!

By the way where ds lives (four hours north of us), they plug their cars into an electrical socket so they will start in a morning. Again there is a technical reason why, maybe someone would be kind enough to explain it?

Second STUPID story, and this one is a classic. So one day I was coming out of work, again in winter and it is raining. So I put up my umbrella and go tottering to the car park. All the while thinking, gosh it is slippery. Get to my car and it is covered with ice, as are the other cars in the parking lot. I remember just standing there thinking, "what is going on?" It's raining and everything is covered in ice. I look up to the sky and it's raining, but where is this ice coming from?

A guy walks by and obviously sees I am puzzled about something, so I say to him, I don't understand what's going on. He says it's freezing rain....I quickly say I am new to the country, so at least I have given him a reason for being a total dimwit.

Freezing rain looks beautiful when you see it on the trees and shrubs, however freezing rain is also very, very dangerous to drive in and can cause millions of dollars worth of damage.

Here is an explanation of how rain turns to freezing rain:

Freezing rain is a type of precipitation that begins as snow at higher altitude, falling from a cloud towards earth, melts completely on its way down while passing through a layer of air above freezing temperature, and then encounters a layer below freezing at a lower level to become supercooled. This water will then freeze upon impact with any object it encounters.[1] The ice can accumulate to a thickness of several centimetres, called glaze ice. The METAR code for freezing rain is FZRA.[2] (see freezing drizzle for another way of forming ice accretion)

See this link for more info.

So there you go a rambling post about the weather.........I am sure the expats over here have more funny stories about their first winter over here?


expateek said...

Wow, that is THE BEST reason I've heard for not letting your tank get below half full! My husband always used to tell me this (as a general philosophy of life kind of thing) but I never knew about the freezing pipes bit.

In South Africa I didn't let my tank get low because with the risk of hijacking, you didn't ever want to be worrying about running out of petrol and getting stranded... or even just gettting distracted looking for a station.

My understanding of the plug-in-the-socket thing (I did that with one of my cars somewhere) is that it warms up the engine block, which also keeps the battery a bit livelier. Otherwise you only get one chance to start it and then you're out of juice. You can accomplish the same thing by leaving a worklight on an extension cord lit under the hood overnight. Old trick from Wisconsin youth...

I agree with you. Below 0 degrees C in Britain is WAY colder than minus whatever in the Midwest. Damp cold, with drips of rain running down the back of your neck in Berkshire/Surrey? Brrrrr!

Gina said...

I love reading these stories. Thank you for sharing it.
I don't think they are stupid stories at all, some funny, some quite tragic !!
I totally agree with you about the damp cold weather here in England (my bones are feeling it right now).

Catherine said...

This weather is horrible!! But I can't imagine cold like what you're describing in Britain. It's the incredible extremes we get here that always amaze me -- days like this of -30 in winter and then wonderful hot days above 30 in the summer. I can't wait for the first heatwave of the year!!

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Now I feel chilly - thought we had had some very cold weather but it was positively balmy compared with yours! Keep warm! A x

Cathy said...

We (the police dept) will have people call and say they can't get the key to work in their car door. They want us to come and unlock it. I try to explain that it's not being locked that is the problem it's that their lock is froze. I then tell them to heat their key up with a lighter and evenually the lock will open. Weather is funny. I remember being in Florida a few years back and a couple from England said how they loved the warm weather that it's never this warm over there. The next week the news came on how the high temps in England was causing deaths cause they didn't have a/c and could stand the weather. Enough ramblings.. Have a good day.

MikeH said...

Boy, that brings back memories - dry gas (gas antifreeze), frozen pipes, bringing the car's distributor cap inside and heating it up in the oven - all part of the northren winters. And, yes, you know it's cold when your boogers freeze.

Thanks for the memories.

Linda said...

In winter here, sometimes we go to buy LPG for the car and we can't until it warms up a bit later in the day. We try to buy it a day earlier now.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

When I first arrived in England in 1995 I had never experienced such cold (I lived in the north of the North Island, New Zealand, sub tropical). I wore so many clothes those first few winters I looked like an Artic explorer. Nowadays when I ring my Mother and she tells me it's freezing at home and then quotes me 15 C I laugh. It takes a while but you do get aclimatised. Haven't quite worked out the art of walking on ice though. haha, Margaret

Cathy said...

Hello Gill
30c I could take, not sure about -30c tho. Thats really COLD brrr

Visiting friends in Calgary one year we noticed a commuter car park had electrical sockets next to each bay to plug something into while the owners were away. We weren't quite sure what but assumed it had something to do with being able to start the car again.

The repair man used a hair dryer (came out of his bag of tools) when our freezer went on the blink. No idea why but it helped fix whatever was wrong :)

Take care

Rinkly Rimes said...

We had it 42 degrees PLUS today here in Australia. I always say this is a lousy time of the year whichever side of the Equator you're on!

Evelyn said...

Yep we plug in our cars to help warm up the block heater. I forgot to top up with gas the other day, shoot. Hope I can get my car to start when I need to. We are having -38 degree temos here today but at least I am not shovelling in it! I grew up in coastal Nova Scotia which is very similiar to your weather in Britain. I moved to interior New Brunswick by a river where we have very dry cold. I still prefer the winters in NS as they don't last as long, here winter is 5 monthes long. evelyn

George said...

Your stories brought back memories of winters in northern Indiana. Nothing was worse than trying to start a John Deere tractor in below freezing weather. I'm glad those days are behind me. Stay warm.

Rudee said...

It is so cold here in Detroit. I did the tango with my blankets last night. One minute I'm freezing and have on wool socks, a hoodie to cover my head and 4 blankets. The next thing I know, I'm on fire and stripping everything off. You should see my bed this morning! What a mess. And I'm freezing. -19C

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I love weather stories, Gill.. I've never lived in the north so have never experienced bitter cold weather. BUT--it's cold enough for me this morning in TN.

Our low this morning was 10 degrees. We've had some snow--but just a dusting. It's blowing around in the air mostly!!!

I gave my birdies some extra breakfast this morning!!!!

The Good Life in Virginia said...

interesting info...i am one who is more bothered by damp chills than 27 degrees and no wind.

we have been keeping our thermostat at 65 and i must say it too has been coming on a lot.
mind you i am still in shorts and t-shirts inside the

have a great evening.


Kathy at Shocking Pink Thread said...

Ah, weather. It's cold here in Vermont today. I really enjoyed your two stories. I had never heard of plugging your car in until I got married and moved to Northern New England! I didn't know much about freezing rain either! I'm glad to have found your blog and will return soon to see how the quilt is coming along. ~Kathy

cheshire wife said...

I usually wait until the petrol warning light comes on before I fill up my petrol tank. Thank goodness we don't get such cold weather but maybe it is the difference between dry cold and damp cold that affects the pipes.

Winifred said...

Oh heck I didn't think it got that cold outside the Arctic!

Have to say I think our winters are getting warmer, it doesn't feel so cold to me these days, even the midgies were out yesterday! Shame about the summers though.

Liked your stories.

Jess said...

I was telling another Canadian friend today that I have never felt temps below 0 degrees F... so I wouldn't know anything about snow over 6inches deep...but we do know about freezing rain! lol

Glad to know that we all have funny/stupid moments!

Love, Jess

Gill - That British Woman said...

excellent comments from you all..thank you.


scrappy quilter said...

Okay so we are in Manitoba and it was -50C here last night with the windchill and the same tonight. It's crazy.

The reason we plug in our vehicles is so that it keeps the engine block warm, otherwise our vehicles wouldn't start in the morning.

Hope you stay warm. You guys aren't quite use to the weather us hardy Manitobans have.

Clippy Mat said...

we arrived here in the winter of 82 and my 'winter gear' consisted of high heeled ankle boots and a little bomber jacket, no hat or gloves. i went outside to go to the corner store and when i sniffed up my nostrils froze! i had no clue.
we quickly bought snow suits for the kids.
different kind of winter weather altogether i agree.

Kim said...

I've always lived in Canada but I hate our winters. I am not a fan of the cold and snow and have no real desire to be outside partaking in winter activites like skiing, etc. I do go out to play with my kids but not for long. I am really hoping the weather warms up soon. The schools don't let the kids play outside when the weather is below -20 so my 6 year old has been having indoor recess all week.