The Northeastern U.S. is gripped in a deep freeze this weekend, with brutal wind-chills. This afternoon has been gorgeous, the sun is shining brightly and a blanket of pure white snow lays over the ground away from the roadways, which are bordered by sooty gray piles of crap. The high temperature this afternoon was 18F (-2C), but the wind chill factor made it feel like -10 or so. Tonight, it's supposed to get to 0F (-32C), with the wind chill factor making it feel arctic.
I arrived at work this afternoon to see a juvenile bald eagle wrestling with the wind over my workplace. The wind was whipping up crystalline clouds of snow, which were dancing over the ground like the ghosts of summer memories, or like a cold elemental from an unpublished novel in Fred Saberhagen's Empire of the East series. It was really quite beautiful out, but the cold is unpleasant, and potentially dangerous. Typically, when I get to work on a Saturday or Sunday, there are a couple of cars parked in the lot, and a handful of people taking pictures of our lovely site. Today, nobody lingered- there were a couple of cars, as usual, but people were quick to hightail it to warmer environs after a brief look.
My initial act of the workday, once I grab the company cell phone out of our department lockbox, is to conduct an inspection tour of the property to make sure that everything is in good order. The typical initial walkthrough takes about forty minutes. I bundled up, wearing five layers (thermal undershirt, T-shirt, fleece, flannel shirt, and hooded sweatshirt), with an initial two layers to put on when it gets really cold. By the time I was done with my tour, the cold was starting to creep through my flannel-lined dungarees. It's gorgeous out, but not necessarily pleasant, and there are reminders that today's winds are no joke, azure sky or no:
It's so cold that even the small, brackish estuary of the Hudson adjacent to the property has frozen over:
This area typically teems with waterfowl as sunset approaches, but the one patch of open water is about as big as a typical kitchen table fit for four diners:
On nights like this I limit my exposure to the elements. I typically do an twenty-to-thirty minute inspection tour every hour and a half, but I typically only do two or three of them on a night like this. Nobody's going to be trespassing on such a dangerous night, and there are all sorts of alarms to warn of any "environmental" emergencies. For long-time readers who are familiar with my feline co-workers, Fred and Ginger are currently guesting with one of our managers for the duration of this wickedly cold spell.
The original post title I was toying with was "Pulchritude and Peril", but I've never heard of "pulchritude" being applied to a non-human object or vista.
UPDATE: It's quarter-to-one in the morning, and the wind chill is -20. NOT FUN!