When I was a boy...actually, when I was a young adult, Uncle Sam in his wisdom sent me to Navy boot camp in Great Lakes, IL...in winter.
The story was that Great Lakes existed to toughen sailors up for the battle of the Atlantic. Probably so. After boots at Great Lakes, a few hours submerged in the midwinter North Atlantic would have seemed like a jacuzzi. I grew up in central New Hampshire and I thought I knew what cold was. I must swear here, on a stack of Richard Dawkins books, that I have never been anywhere before or since that could beat the centre part of those 12 weeks in Illinois.
temperature at Great Lakes did not get above
zero for a month: one month. The low temperature was past believing. Of course, the Navy in its wisdom had us doing business as usual until the sick bay was swamped with second-degree frostbite cases: the kind with ugly black blisters. You got first-degree frostbite on your ears from having to go anywhere in dress or undress uniform with white hat, and it hardly counted. You got second degree frostbite trying to hang laundry outdoors, after dark
, with the temperature at I don't-wanna-know-how-many-degrees below zero.
I had always heard that it could get so cold that your spit would freeze before it hit the ground. That's the only place I've seen it happen.
You report for watch at 0330, outdoors. En route, you spit. You hear a distinct "chink!"
Curious, you spit again. "Chink!" You realise the legend is true, and hurry to report before you become a swabsicle.
Next morning, we heard that the low wind chill reading that night was...dramatic geezer pause...-72F. The still air temperature was a disturbingly high proportion of that figure. Thereafter, the management decided to secure all outdoor activity until the weather moderated.
So don't tell me about how cold it is. Anywhere east and south of that is a frickin sauna.
Note from today's weather. The temperature ranges in Chicago and other Midwestern cities were lower than in Fairbanks, Alaska. My hat is off to all of you out there: but not for long.