Robert Pogson

One man, closing all the windows.

Posts Tagged / arctic

  • Jan 12 / 2009
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I Hate the Wind

Do not get me wrong. I am not irrational. The wind in Canada’s Arctic can kill you without hesitation. It can blow at 50 to 80 km/h for days even with a temperature of -30C like today. It shakes the building. It is a constant roaring, whistling, rustling and creaking.

It is hard to walk in it. You have to lean into it with little traction on icy surfaces. When the wind speed changes, you fall over. Going uphill into the wind is harder.

It takes your breath away. Walking into the wind you have to work hard so you need to breathe deeply and all you get is very cold, dry air.

It can freeze your skin in seconds.

It takes away your sense of sight. You cannot see through blowing snow. Sometimes the visibility is only a metre or so. Fortunately, today it is about 300m but I have to take off my glasses or they freeze to my face so I cannot use much of that visibility. Worse, to keep the face from freezing, one has to put up hoods and face masks, restricting the field of view. This causes one to trip over little snowdrifts or lumps of ice.

It takes away your mobility. I am an old man and do not have much mobility to begin so adding a couple of layers of insulation and wind-proofing makes me stiff. Stiffness when trying to dodge the gusting wind is more difficult.

The last little annoyance is the 1cm spark of static electricity one gets when putting the key in the lock. Who needs that?

The end is in sight. The forecast for this storm is that it ends tonight. Three days of this is not bad. It can go on for a week.

Why do I work here? The pay is good. The kids don’t kill each other or their teachers very often (joke…). The kids are very gentle and they need education. Their native language will not get them far in the outside world except as translators so this is extreme ESL teaching. The air and water are very clean except when the wind blows. There are fish, caribou, mussels and berries to eat and space, lots of it. This place is not polluted by people although bureaucracy reigns in the few who are here. Problems like that are opportunities. The wind is just a problem with no opportunity except power generation.

Ravens love it. I stayed home yesterday morning and marked papers. For a break I watched the ravens play in the updrafts near my building. They find it easier to glide around than to sit still on days like this so that’s what they do. They fly acrobatics, mate, and find food, even in the wind. They don’t hate the wind.

Update - while I was writing that, school was cancelled for the day and the weather worsened. Gusts to 74 km/h with temperature of -30C. I will don full body armor to return home this afternoon. Forecast is for more of the same later this week.

Update 2- This morning the sounds of the wind in my apartment had abated. Accordingly, I sallied forth without my facemask on. The first clue was the snowdrift preventing the outer door from opening. I had to batter it down and kick it aside once I got out. The second clue was the snowdrift blocking the door at school. The wind had merely changed direction a few degrees. Wind chill had risen to -56C with winds gusting 58 to 67 km/h, worse than yesterday. The wind was at my back so I had no real problem walking except my glasses iced up. I peeked around them. Forecast is to possibly lighten up tomorrow. That is what they said yesterday…