Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Nadir

With the center of this Arctic outbreak parked over northwest Missouri, it is likely that we have now endured the coldest air of this system and, very possibly, the lowest temperature of this winter season. As I walked to work this morning, a crescent moon beamed in the clear, dark, southeast sky; it was nine degrees below zero (F) and this afternoon's high is forecast to reach ten above.

But, after a slightly less chilly night, we should be on the backside of the Arctic dome by tomorrow and southwest winds will push us into the mid twenties; on the negative side, these winds will produce a wind chill that might make it feel colder than it does today. Thawing should begin by mid week as the frigid air moves off to the east and we return to more seasonable conditions; by then, the upper thirties will feel like spring.

Prolonged, severe cold can have a depressing effect on humans, not designed to function in such weather. But native wildlife, not focused on thermometers and weather reports, took the polar air in stride. No doubt, some creatures succumbed to the brutal conditions but, for them, every day is a life and death struggle.