Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Chill of a Northeastern Winter

How Cold is too Cold?

Winter in New England...cold, snowy, icy. Although I live in Maine, I work in an elementary school in New Hampshire. Last Friday morning during my weekly recess duty, it was so cold students were complaining about the chill. Kids don't usually complain about the cold so you know it's gotta be frigid if they are asking when the bell is going to ring. I was fairly warm, layered in my wool socks, water-proof boots, hat, two turtle-neck sweaters, jacket, two sets of gloves. Even with all these clothes on, however, as the wind gusted I was slowly losing the feeling in my thighs. Why don't we have indoor recess I wondered as I kept eyeing my watch....8:20 is so slow to come when you're staring at your watch. I sent one of my students to the office to ask what the temperature was, wind chill factored in. She returned telling me it didn't matter because we were staying outside! Moments later the bell, thankfully, rang. Somebody must have reconsidered or at the least, taken a closer look at the thermometer.

Once inside my toasty offic, I checked NOAA's wind chill chart. It must be dangerously cold, I imagined, certainly way too cold for kids to be running around outside. To my surprise, though chilly, it is not dangerously cold until it's at least 15 degrees and the wind is blowing some 55 to 60 miles an hour. Such conditions lead to a wind chill factor (and thus, the temperature we feel) of -18 and -19 degrees. Even with that cold, you can stay outside for 30 minutes before you get frostbite! My husband, from Michigan, laughs and calls us New Englanders (and I am a former Northwesterner) wimps. He tells me that when he was a kid, school was held until driving was impossible due to white-out conditions and he went to recess when it was 0 degrees ouside. Checking a teacher's chat room, a teacher from Massachusetts noted that her school's policy was to go outside if it was at least 20 degrees, wind chill factored in; a teacher from Minnesota wrote that " and above they're out there!" But, a teacher from Maine wrote that kids are out running around in the snow until it's 10 below zero.

The temperature last Friday as I stood out behind my elementary school on that very chilly January morning, was 17 with a wind chill factor of 7. Seems too cold to me for kids to be playing outside (and for me to be standing on duty). Luckily for me Friday was my last recess duty day in any kind of weather as I soon go on sabbatical!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic blog, sis! Keep it up! Now go work on your book! Soon, I want to go into Barnes and Noble and see your book on the shelf, ready to buy.


    Mike "Bro" Bryan
    The Food Therapist