baby, it’s cold outside

“…a frozen curtain has descended across the continent…”
French thermometers weren’t expecting this

As most of you have heard….it’s cold here.  Not just in the Alpes, but all across Europe. They are estimating now that at least 400 people have died from the cold, and it isn’t over yet.

The best data I could find shows that the normal weather for this time of year is dropping to a few degrees below freezing at night, and warming up above zero during the day.  Last year I think the coldest day we had was -9 at night and 0 during the day. We’ve had about a week below zero so far, and have had lows as cold as -14.   Fine, that may close to the average daytime “high” in Edmonton during January, but around here it’s sure not normal. Buildings were not built to heat in that kind of cold.  The kids school was closed on Tuesday at noon as the pipes had frozen and there was no more running water in the school. Actually we know several people who have had frozen pipes.  I talked to some colleagues who were in a restaurant in Grenoble this week where everyone was wearing hats and gloves to stay warm while they ate.

We are incredibly thankful that we live in an very well insulated house, and have a wood-burning stove. Many newer houses use a heat-pump to stay warm (sort of like a refrigerator, but instead of keeping the inside of the fridge cold, and the coils on its back warm – the heat goes into the house, while the cold is sent out) – however they become basically ineffective around -15 as there just isn’t enough heat in the air.  So when you need them most – they do nothing.  Which normally here wouldn’t really matter too much – but this year it does.

Our kids still seem to make the best of it. We’ve actually had snow stay on the ground for over a week now – so it really seems like winter has set in.  The only problem is that everyone in our family seems to have acclimated to the weather here, and the current temperature feels REALLY REALLY cold.  I blame it on the humidity.  And the fact that red wine thins out your blood.