Extreme cold kills more people than extreme heat, and it does so in a variety of ways.
You could freeze to death. You could be spending more time inside, picking up all sorts of nasty respiratory infections. More often, though, frigid temperatures get you in an even sneakier way: Cold weather causes arteries to constrict and blood to become thicker, increasing chances of having a heart attack or stroke. The winter months usually see a peak in various types of heart diseases, including heart attacks.
Weight, fitness, and lifestyle factors all contribute to the likelihood of having a heart attack during a cold snap, of course. But now, it looks like there’s another cause—one far beyond your control. There’s evidence that your risk of dying of heart disease in the cold could depend on the temperature at which you experienced life as a fetus.
Read more. [Image: David Salafia/Flickr]
"Years from now, residents of the Mid-Atlantic will remember 2014 as the year they wore snow boots for a month. Reporter Steve Keeley, of FOX 29 in Philadelphia, will remember it as the year he got plowed.”
Remember: Watch out for snow plows.
It predicted “above-normal” temperatures. Oops.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]
If you are a human in winter today, take solace in the knowledge that being outside burns calories. In the journal Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism, scientists from Maastricht University in The Netherlands argue that when exercise isn’t an option, “regular exposure to mild cold may provide a healthy and sustainable alternative strategy for increasing energy expenditure.”
Shivering can increase your metabolic rate as much as five fold. The problem with shivering is that it is terrible, so Dr. Wouter van Marken Lichtenbelt and colleagues looked into being only mildly cold as a way to burn calories. Our bodies burn energy to keep us warm in a process called non-shivering thermogenesis (NST), they explain, which works even at pretty reasonable temperatures. They defined mild cold exposure as 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
"In most young and middle-aged people NST increases by between a few percent and 30 percent in response to mild cold exposure," they write. They say that can significantly improve your calorie-in to calorie-burned ratio. Even if you eat more to compensate, most people won’t eat enough to undo the extra expenditure.
Read more. [Image: Marken Lichtenbelt et al., Cell Press]
All the people and tools you need to prepare for and understand the latest big storm to hit the eastern seaboard.
It would seem, at first glance, that the NFL has done something "asinine" in its planning for Super Bowl XLVIII. For the first time ever, the game will be played in a cold-weather city, in an open-air venue—MetLife stadium in the Meadowlands—and by putting the Super Bowl in the New York-New Jersey metro, some say, the league may have turned their biggest event into the world’s biggest mess.
Last year’s Super Bowl MVP, Joe Flacco, called the decision stupid. Terry Bradshaw hates the idea. Columnists from CBS and ESPN have objected as well. But while bad weather would be a nightmare for people traveling to the game, and while it might make for a nasty afternoon inside the stadium, a Super Bowl in bad weather would be a delight for everyone else—a gloriously gritty, sloppy spectacle of old-school football.
Read more. [Image: Julio Cortez/AP]
Record-low temperatures caused by the Polar Vortex have forced schools across the country to close this week. Weather-related school cancellations tend to raise anxieties about whether we’re a nation of wimps. During President Obama’s first winter in Washington, he complained when his daughters’ school closed for bad weather: “We’re going to have to apply some flinty Chicago toughness to this town.” In response to this latest round of school closings, a Virginia mom sighed, “Hasn’t anyone heard of gloves, scarf and a hat when it’s cold?? Just bundle up—people do it all over the world. We are such wimps to cancel school.”
A story about a teacher assigned to a one-room schoolhouse in South Dakota in the 1880s will confirm suspicions that America has gone soft when it comes to dealing with the cold. The story is from These Happy Golden Years, the second-to-last book in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved “Little House” series about growing up on the American frontier. It describes the protagonist, a 15-year-old teacher named Laura, traveling a half a mile in the snow to get to school.
Read more. [Image: Wikimedia Commons]
The first week of 2014 has brought frigid conditions to much of the Northern Hemisphere, including a phenomenon called a polar vortex, which pulled Arctic weather deep into Canada and the U.S. In Harbin, China, the chilly temperatures have one advantage: They come at a perfect time for the annual Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Collected here are recent images of the frozen north.
On Tuesday night, a huge vacant warehouse on Chicago’s South Side went up in flames. Fire department officials said it was the biggest blaze the department has had to battle in years and one-third of all Chicago firefighters were on the scene at one point or another trying to put out the flames. Complicating the scene was the weather — temperatures were well below freezing and the spray from the fire hoses encased everything below in ice, including buildings, vehicles, and some firefighting gear. The warehouse was gutted, but the fire was contained. Fire crews remain on the scene as some smaller flare-ups continue to need attention.
See more. [Images: AP, Getty, Reuters]
Following up on yesterday’s essay Wintry Weather, I was struck by photographs of the unusually heavy winter storm that just blanketed many Middle Eastern countries in snow. I discovered a wide range of unique images, from Saudis tossing snowballs to Israelis on sleds to the newly white roofs of Istanbul. Gathered here are a handful of those images, showing that, despite the harshness of the storm, some were able to find a moment of joy in the rare snowfall.
See more. [Images: AP, Reuters, Getty]