For the past week, the weathermen have been predicting dangerous “wind chills” for the New England area for tonight, Saturday, February 13th, 2016. Their dire predictions are proving to be accurate and a warning issued by the National Weather Service (NWS) has been posted:
* WIND CHILL READINGS… 25 TO 60 BELOW ZERO AT TIMES.
* TIMING… THROUGH SUNDAY MORNING… FROSTBITE AND HYPOTHERMIA IN A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME.
* IMPACTS… WIND CHILLS WILL REACH LIFE THREATENING LEVELS.
According to the NWS, the term “wind chill” goes back to the Antarctic explorer Paul Siple, who coined it a 1939 dissertation, “Adaptation of the Explorer to the Climate of Antarctica.” A brief moment outside tonight has confirmed that it certainly feels like Antarctica more than Connecticut.
The NWS notice also included the warning:
FRIGID TEMPERATURES WILL RESULT IN FROZEN AND BURSTING PIPES.
So how did people survive in such hostile conditions before they had pipes that could burst?
I think of the 1787 Colonial I owned years ago on a hill in Brookfield. During one cold spell, our pipes did burst. There were 32 breaks in our plumbing lines, and we were forced to renovate several outside walls. During the renovation, we discovered that one exterior wall had been insulated with piles of dried corn cobs and old papers. I imagine those original owners of my home, some 230 years ago, had thought themselves to be ingenious using these materials for protection from the cold.
On a night like this, I have to admire their resilience.