06 February 2019


Readers here don't need a blog post for news about the polar vortex; it has been exhaustively covered by the national news media.  But TYWKIWDBI also serves a secondary function as a sort of private diary for me for storing interesting stuff, so I'll insert a few notes.

Wind chills in Madison to 48-below-zero (-44 C).  Even worse farther up north in my favorite vacation areas:

Some temps and wind chills colder than simultaneous readings at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica (you can check current conditions there with this link).  Minnesota/Wisconsin area described as "like Siberia, but with better restaurants."

Schools sensibly closed.  Stores closed.  Banks and credit unions closed.

The official motto of the U.S. Postal Service specifies delivery despite rain, heat, and gloom of night, but doesn't specify "cold," so mail pickup and delivery has been cancelled for a couple days.

Here in Madison we went 17 days without the temperature ever getting above freezing.

Top photo: Lady Liberty emerging from the ice at Lake Mendota (the return of a 40-year-old tradition).

Back in 2015 the temperature here was colder than Mars (and Mars doesn't have wind chill).  That probably was true again this year.

I have a snowthrower to help me clear the driveway, but to get snow off the roof I have to pull it down with a roof rake, being careful not to hit the heating coils that prevent ice dams.

As we transition towards spring the bad weather morphs more toward ice (sleet, freezing rain).  Got some last night, more due tonight.  Sometimes dangerous to walk to the mailbox.

Whenever things are really bad, I like to watch this video and remind myself that at least we don't have "Condition 1" weather:

Low-res, but worth watching fullscreen for full effect.  And have the sound on so you can hear her squeal.

Oh, and one more thing - I have several Black Swallowtails overwintering in their chrysalises in the terrarium on the screen porch:

This is what some butterflies do - freeze solid, then thaw and proceed to undergo metamorphosis.  Incredible.  I don't know if they are adapted to 40-below-zero.  We'll see in the spring...

Update 4 days later:
"Several rounds of snow will blanket south central Wisconsin through this week. Up to an inch of snow is expected today [Sunday], possibly mixed with freezing drizzle.
By Monday afternoon, more significant snow develops and continues through Tuesday.
Forecast snowfall totals include 3-4 inches on Monday night and an additional 2-3 inches during the day on Tuesday.
Another moderate round of snow is expected Thursday night into Friday."
I wasn't able to clear the driveway by chipping the ice or spreading salt (too cold for the latter), so this snow will fall on top of lumpy ice.  Ice also has occluded many of the gutters and all the rain downspouts that don't have heating cables in them.  After a  while this gets on your nerves. 


  1. do the butterflies really freeze, or are they filled with some self made antifreeze?

    p.s. like your wire railing.


    1. I may be using the word "solid" too loosely. Endogenous antifreeze does prevent ice crystals from forming -


      - but this weather has been reported to freeze antifreeze.

      We chose the wire so that we could see the woods and garden from the mosquito-free screen porch.

  2. I truly enjoyed seeing Bemidji on the list of places with the coldest windchill. I lived in Bemidji from age 13 to 19 and whenever I start to think the winters are bad here in the cities I check the weather and it's always worse in Bemidji!

  3. https://youtu.be/2hg6KF-es01 Minnsnota Razor Rake

    1. That link is dead, but I looked it upo elsewhere. Tx.

  4. I bought the 24" model in June of 2009 and have only used it 4 times since. Twice because I just had to, and twice because I really needed to. It works beautifully.

  5. will that work on an asphalt shingle roof? or do you need a special roof?


    1. That is the type shingle on my house. There is a web site called Minnsota Razor Rake.


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