Are you sure you aren’t already tanked up on anti-freeze???
I’ve just come back from spending the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) in Dalian, Liaoning Province, in north-east China – it’s on the tip of a promontory near the Korean border, pointing SSW towards Shandong and nearly closing off the Bohai. At the end of last week the temperature there was -18 degrees C, taking windchill into consideration; I got back to Xiamen on Thursday afternoon, where the temperature was +21 degrees C. Guess which I prefer!
Oh and flats in Dalian are superheated; I was so hot in the flats of the friends I was staying with that just wearing a vest — T-shirt for our cousins across the pond! — I was sweating!
We are currently experiencing what the forecasters have started calling a “snow event”. In practice that means about thirty centimetres (one foot in old money). It had been widely predicted, but nonetheless it has crippled the transport and education infrastructure of the entire nation (or at least that bit of it I live in).
Meanwhile, here in Melbourne they are still straightening out our train tracks after they buckled in last week’s heat.
Oh, and our big giant waste-of-money tourist non-attraction wheel thing that we built to imitate the big giant waste-of-money tourist non-attraction wheel thing they built in London… that buckled and cracked in the heat too, and is shut down “indefinitely”.
Things are finally getting back to normal here, where we had more than a foot of snow piled on us last week (atop much, much more from previous snowstorms), so I feel for you guys in the UK and in NC!
Here are some survival tips from those of us who experience this kind of thing on a regular basis.
Buy groceries NOW. Know where your emergency candles are, in case of a power outage.
Make sure your car is ready. That means good tires, with adequate pressure–and in cold weather, you need to check that often. Keep your fuel tank and your windshield washer tank full; you never know how long it’s going to take to get home, or how much salty ick is going to get splattered on your car during the trip. Keep a blanket in the backseat. Check your battery. Get the toughest ice scraper you can find, preferably with a very long handle tipped with a sturdy brush. Keep a bag of non-clumping kitty litter, preferably the old-fashioned clay type, in your trunk; it works better than traction sand if you get stuck, and Kitty can use it in the spring (or, if you don’t have a cat, you can donate it to your local animal shelter).
Then, as the world outside hunkers down under its snowy blanket, pull up Scrivener and write!
Got a little dusting, enough to panic the new natives and make them delay the children for school for about two hours which led to a very interesting story…
A young boy (age 5) was dropped off at his school bus stop by his mother (around 7:am). She didn’t check to see of there was a delay. After waiting in the cold by himself for awhile the boy finally walked over to his friends house. The mother went back later to get the boy but he couldn’t be found so she called the police. They found him over at a friends house playing. The news last night mentioned that the police reported this to Social Services and there may be a criminal charge filed.
Some of my friends are volunteer firefighters, and are currently out there trying to protect homes of people they don’t even know… the worst of the fires is not far from where I used to live. Thankfully I’ve never got close to one, although my parents almost lost their house in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires.
I imagine that people in the UK and much of the US don’t ever experience anything like it, or even have to think about it. To us it is just the reality of a Victorian summer. We had lessons in Bushfire safety from our first year of school onwards.
Oh, and for the record, we broke another record… 46.4 degrees C in the city, and 47.9 further out. That’s 118.22 for you Fahrenheit folk. What made things worse were the winds, which were measured up to 116 km/hr (72 miles/hr) in some parts of the state.
Remember that you need lots of hydration when it gets that warm. We can’t have you falling ill on us…
In the US wild fires are pretty common. More so in the west, but pretty much everywhere. 9 times out of 10 they are created by stupid humans. First we stopped letting nature clear the underbrush via natural decomposition and fire, then we let idiots play with matches. We had a major fire here in my area about 2, maybe 3 years ago. quite a number of homes were damaged or destroyed. I am in snow belt upstate where we consider water a plague.
Out west fire is such a hazard that special insurance is needed (this from a relative out there Ariz and Cali). Your regular home owners insurance has clauses that exempt wild fire damage. I am too lazy to check, but I think we loose half a dozen or more firefighters to wild fire every year. This always get attention in the national media.
Keep safe and try to stay cool. We’ll keep you in our thoughts.
I knew you got some fires around the California area (hence ‘much’ of the US), although I didn’t realise quite how frequent they are. Thankfully, losing firefighters for us is a pretty rare occurrence. These guys are mostly volunteers, but they genuinely are the best trained in the world by a very long way. Certainly doesn’t stop me worrying about them on nights like this.
The heat has actually gone now. We had a cool change come through and the temperature halved. In southern Australia, winds from the north bring hot air that has travelled across the desert in the middle of Australia, while winds from the south bring cool air from the sea. So the wind changed direction by about 90 degrees, from North East to South East, which was a big relief from the heat.
Unfortunately, it is the worst thing that can happen with bushfires, and was the cause of the big problems we had on Ash Wednesday (the state’s worst day of bushfires back in 1983) and again today.
Basically, all day the fires have been spreading with a fairly narrow front, but leaving a lot burning behind them. Turn the wind 90 degrees, and you suddenly have very wide 20+ km fronts, which are a lot more difficult to contain, especially with ember attacks and spotting landing up to 4km ahead of the fronts, and the bushfires travelling at up to 100km/hr.
I live in the suburbs now, so I am completely safe from the fires. But having grown up where knowing this stuff really matters, and knowing a lot of people who still live in those areas, I always get tense and sit up all night listening to the radio reports on nights like this.
To try to stop the fires, we have days declared as total fire bans, which means that it is a crime to light any fire anywhere within the state for any purpose (with the exception of gas barbecues, which can be lit within 10m of a permanent dwelling… solid fuel BBQs are not allowed).
They suspect several of today’s fires, including the fire that took the most houses and lives, were deliberately lit by firebugs. If they catch the bastards that did it, they will be tried for murder. Even if someone caused a fire by accident (by throwing away a cigarette butt, or ignoring the total fire ban) they can be jailed for up to 15 years. That is, of course, if they catch them. Fire destroys a lot of the evidence.
Sorry to hear about that Matt. Hope everyone is safe and ok. I remember the Florida fires that happened a few years back. Was so bad it could be seen from Space (Google Florida Fires). If I remember correctly I think some kid set one of those fires. Many people are in rapture over the spectale of fire but when one gets to the size where it is uncontrollable it is a very scary and fierce form of nature that knows no bounds. Here where I live the most two most common days for fires are July 4th (Celebrating independence day) which is from cooking out on charcoal and fires get out of control (especially because it is the peak summer month and usually very dry and windy) and Thanksgiving day.
Thanksgiving day is not from cooking the turkey in the oven but rather a very common Southern form of cooking Turkey that causes it.
Deep Frying a Frozen turkey!
Boiling a few gallons of cooking oil then dropping a 16lb frozen turkey in is something that sounds cool but is actually very very dangerous and water on an oil fire is even worse, hence thanksgiving day many idiots wind up in the mergency room with burns or they burned down their house or set a large fire because they did not follow the safety directions when deep frying a turkey. It is a style of cooking best left up to people who know all the tricks to doing it safely without burning down the neighborhood.
One other thing people never realize about large fires is their speed. People think they can just outrun a fire and they think fire is a slow moving thing. Not so. A good large sized brush fire with high winds may only burn about 5 mph on average but it can literally move and “jump” faster than most any animal can run. A “jumping” fire or one that switches direction because of wind change can be very dangerous because like matt said the front may only be one size but as it burns if the wind shifts the front can became many times as large in seconds. Fire is a lot like lava. Sometimes it may roll along slow and seem none threatening then it seconds it can catch someone unaware and pick up speed or change direction in seconds becoming very life threatening. The scariest one is a “jumping” fire which is usually caused by burning embers or small burning debris that is pushed ahead of the fire on the hot winds and then as it gets ahead of the fire the air cools and the embers settle starting fires sometimes miles ahead of the original fire line which then if not contained add to the danger. Most of the time many firefighters aren’t really fighting the actual fire but rather trying to prevent the fire from “jumping” and getting to locations that would cause things to get out of control.
Matt, when temperatures get that hot and there is a lot of news about fire the best thing I found is very cold beer, (usually so cold there are small ice flakes). Cold beer is an excellent reason to stay inside with AC and a good way to keep your core temperature down. Chase the beer with cold water to further lubricate the system and give you more reasons to keep going to the fridge.
To prevent showing signs of alcoholism just call one friend on the phone while drinking beer. Since you are talking to someone you are not drinking alone and therefore you aren’t showing signs of being an alcoholic but rather just a social drinker because after all you are on the phone being social.
(PS: On a real note, I hope everyone is safe and ok and minimal damage occurs)
I guess everyone knows by now that the hope of everyone OK and minimal damage was not fulfilled.
Matt, I hope your friends are all right.
The expression “ember attack” always seems strange to me. Personifying a fire is almost irresistible. They aren’t really malevolent or savage, they don’t really pursue or or rage, and they don’t attack though it can feel like it. And in a big fire the so-called embers can be flaming branches or whole tree crowns that travel kilometres. Not a whole lot in common with a spark dropping onto a hearth rug.