It could be worse

When I looked at the thermometer mounted to a wooden post in the carport at our house at about 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, the mercury was at minus 6.

That marked the fourth or fifth time this winter the temperature was below zero at the abode where my wife, Wendy, and I live.

I sent photos of that sight and of the digital thermometer inside my truck reading minus 4 at about 8:10 a.m. to a friend of mine in western Washington. He replied with an exclamation about how frigid that was, and went on to say, “if your vehicle decides not to perform on the way to work, you may expire before anyone can come to your aid!”

That’s a pretty good point, and there’s no denying that any temperature below zero Fahrenheit is just downright cold. That’s cold enough to make you cheeks sting or kill a car battery that’s on its last leg. But it could be worse.

For example, we could be living in Arctic Bay, Canada, a small village on northern Baffin Island, well north of Hudson Bay. The temperature there was minus 29 at noon Tuesday and the forecast high was –24. I think it would be strange to live somewhere where the high temperature number can be smaller than the low.

The good news for locals was that the extended forecast showed a warming trend with a high of minus 14 on Sunday.

Or we could live in Murmansk, Russia (near Finland), a city about the size of St. Louis that’s by far the world’s largest city north of the Arctic Circle.

The average temperature there is below 30 degrees Fahrenheit for five months out of the year, the average low is below freezing seven months each year and the record low is minus 39. We could live in Moron, Mongolia (don’t start now), where the average high for the entire month of January is 6 degrees Fahrenheit and the average low is minus 20. I’d say that’s a very low average low.

Worse yet, we could reside in Lensk, a town of 25,000 in east-central Russia where the temperature at 1 p.m. Tuesday was minus 36 Fahrenheit and the forecast high was a balmy negative 21. Imagine knowing the extended forecast for where you lived called for seven consecutive days with high temperatures of negative 30 or lower (two of minus 39) and four of those days having lows of –44 or lower. That’s the reality for the folks in Lensk. People live in that?

I’ve never come close to experiencing that kind of cold, and I’m OK if I never do.

Then again, we could live in the east-central African city of Juba, South Sudan, where the high on Tuesday was forecast to reach about 98 degrees.

But than, the temperature always reaches about 98 in Juba. The average high in South Sudan’s capital cityis 90 or above for 10 months out of the year, and is 88 or more during the other two.

And there’s really no such thing as a “low temperature” in Juba, because the average low is 70 or higher for eight months each year and above 68 during the other four.

I’m guessing Juba’s leading department store doesn’t carry space heater.

Anyway, I’m glad God has me living in a place where well-defined seasons exist, but where I can be thankful that “it isn’t worse.” At least not yet.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. His columns are posted online at www.houstonherald.com. Email: ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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