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New York is currently suffering through what weather-casters describe as "brutally" cold weather. Admittedly, today's low of 15-degrees Farenheit does put a wiggle in your waggle when outside. Homeowners not living in their northern residences should be aware that guidelines for un-occupied homes recommend keeping a thermostat setting of 62 degrees inside. But from one who spent several winters in the frosty climes of Minnesota, this is just a little colder than what Minnesotan's call "sweater weather."
Currently, parts of the Northern Great Plains are experiencing what really is brutally cold weather. The weatherman's favorite ice-box, International Falls, Minnesota is looking forward to an overnight low of -30 this coming Saturday. That's thirty degrees below ZERO, not below freezing. This does not include the oft quoted "windchill factor." This is the real deal.
At thirty below, a bottle of whisky put in a snowbank overnight will freeze solid. Actually, a whiskey like Jack Daniels, which is 80 proof (vol. 40%), would have a freezing point of about -26°. Not a night to be caught outside with your knickers down!
<strong>Wood frogs freeze solid - and live!
Not everyone is susceptible to the winter cold. Wood frogs — native to northern regions of North America, from North Carolina up to Arctic Canada and Alaska — freeze almost completely solid during the coldest months of winter: As cold-blooded animals, their <img class=" wp-image-21293 alignright" src="http://www.globalpropertysystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Frozen-Wood-Frog.jpg" alt="" width="214" height="161" data-id="21293" />body temperatures can't resist changes in ambient temperatures. But the hoppers have evolved a mechanism to survive their frozen stupor, in which their liver breaks down a compound called glycogen into glucose (sugar), and releases that glucose into their bloodstream. The sugar acts as a sort of anti-freeze in the animal's blood, keeping it alive as it hibernates through the coldest months of the year.
The frogs can live this way for weeks at a time, until temperatures rise back up above freezing. At this point, their hearts start to beat; they gulp for air, jiggle their legs, and hop away in search of a mate. Ahh, romance at any temperature.
<strong>Fun things to do outside when it's -30 F. </strong>
Soap bubbles can make any scene seem like a fairy tale, but they pop in the blink of an eye. That's not an issue when temperatures dip below about 9 to 12 F (about minus 11 C), and you can make the bubbles freeze. The trick is to blow them up in the air so that they have time to freeze before hitting the ground or another surface. The bubbles will form crystalline patterns and some might break, looking a bit like the shell of a cracked egg.
<strong>Turn water into snow</strong>
Playing around with boiling water in cold, windy conditions may not be the smartest way to spend the day. That said, the result could be spectacular if you are very careful and there is a large enough temperature difference between the air and water, with best results occurring once air temperatures dip to minus 30 F (minus 34 C) or below.
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Here's how boiling water "magically" turns to snow: Cold air is very dense, meaning its molecules are scrunched close together, leaving little room for water vapor molecules. When boiling water is thrown into that chilly, dry air, there's no place for those water droplets to go. So the vapor precipitates out by clinging to microscopic particles in the air, such as sodium or calcium, and forming crystals. Which happens to be the same process that occurs in making snow. But the cool thing is the audible "whoosh" and the big white puffy cloud that materializes as water meets air. It can be spectacular for a backyard experiment not involving explosives of any kind.
Winter weather is not without its fun. Just be sure to bundle up, be safe, and don't lick any flag poles.