Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Some Manitoba Winter Terminology

-40 degrees Celsius - This is also about -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Very, very cold. Sometimes it gets even colder than this during a Manitoba winter. When it gets this cold even the locals try to avoid going outside. To understand how cold this is picture the air sparkling because there are literally frozen crystals suspended in the air... that's right! It is so cold that the air begins to freeze. If you throw a bucket of water out your door it will freeze before it hits the ground. This is very hard to prove as there is danger of you camera freezing also. Electronic lose battery power from being outside in this extreme cold for any period of time. It is not out of the question to warm up your car in order to avoid walking to blocks in this temperature!

Snow Drift - For those of you unfamiliar with Manitoba snow, it is drier than snow found in other regions. It is also lighter and blows around in the air. It blows across the highway looking like rapids on a river, and obscuring your view. A snow drift is where this light snow is blown into a mound.

Block Heater - This device is attached to your car battery to keep it warm enough that your car will start. The block heater must be plugged in when you are parked for any length of time. It will plug into any regular electrical outlet but you will need a special extension cord. Make sure you find the one that is for up to -40 degrees Celsius. The ones that are good up to -50 are preferable if you can find one. One nice feature most of these cords have is the ability to light up on the end so you can find them in the dark. You may need more than one length of these cords depending on places you normally visit.

Scarf - This item, generally viewed as a fashion accessory everywhere else actually serve a functional purpose. They are worn across the face to prevent nose and lungs from freezing when one tries to breathe outside in Manitoba winter. If you own glasses it is advised you either get some anti-fog spray or invest in contact lenses.

Freezing Rain - Basically what it sounds like. The bane of Manitoba winters because it creates extremely dangerous driving conditions.

Hoar Frost - One of the more beautiful aspects of Manitoba winters. When the temperatures are just right during the night hoar frost forms. The trees are literally encrusted with white ice crystals when you wake up in the morning. You have to see it to understand just how beautiful it is.

Long Johns - Long Underwear. Last winter my parents bought me some as a joke. I didn't consider it one. There are days where you just need to have long underwear if you plan to be going anywhere, including long car drives. Sometimes your car's heater just can't compete with a Manitoba winter.

Thermal Socks - Specialized really warm socks. Worn for the same reason as Long Johns, it is way too cold not to!

Slurpee Run - A trip to 7-11. Ok, so this is more of an all-season term but I am putting it here just to emphasize that Manitobans think it is a good idea to be going on a Slurpee run when it is 40 below. It is not the Slurpee capital for no reason! There is so logic to this. When you enter a house after being outside in the Manitoba winter you literally have to start stripping layers, and even so you may find yourself feeling too warm. Slurpees or ice cream work as good temperature regulators.

Mukluks - A form of winter boot made of leather that were first created by the First Nations people.

Skidoo - A very useful thing to have if there is a black out during a Manitoba winter storm. Can navigate the streets better than a car to get you necessary supplies. A hand-crank radio is also a wise idea so you know where to get said supplies. Even better would be a generator.

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