Coping with -26 wind chill!

Portrush man Stephen Eason pictured at Lake Shongum, Randolph, New Jersey, which is completely frozen to a depth of several inches
. INCR03-14

Portrush man Stephen Eason pictured at Lake Shongum, Randolph, New Jersey, which is completely frozen to a depth of several inches . INCR03-14

A Portrush man living in New Jersey has told of how he and his family are coping with the Arctic blast which hit the east coast of America.

The big chill, which is reportedly beginning to ease, hit all 50 states of the USA but the east coast was worst affected.

Stephen Eason lives in Randolph, New Jersey, with his wife Linda and two children James and Olivia.

He is Executive Director of the Medical Writing department of Novartis at their main site headquarters.

He told the Times how the family has been coping with day-to-day life in -26 wind chill temperatures.

“We’d had “normal” winter weather up to Christmas (about 8 inches of snowfall) followed by a quick thaw right around Christmas itself,” he said.

“We have lots of prior warning of weather events on the many news and weather channels, and they suggested the likely freeze coming just after New Year. It began to get cold over the weekend in our area of northwest NJ (the Midwest and north had been much colder already and got it worse than us) over the weekend, and the real dip was Monday and Tuesday, when daytime temperatures peaked at -16C and it was -27C overnight.”

Speaking to the Times on Thursday, Stephen added: “Wind chill made it feel much colder even than that. It’s warming today (by warming I mean it will be near 0C, and will reach 13C by Saturday).

“It’s true to say that the air made your teeth hurt when you breathed in, and we were told that five minutes in the open without good winter clothing would be enough for frostbite. “One of the weather men cracked an egg on the pavement and it froze solid in just over a minute.

“Despite this, the kids were at school throughout, the school buses ran as normal and the roads were dry and clear.”

Coming from Northern Ireland where a heavy snowfall can sometimes lead to road and school closures, Stephen commented that the key to dealing with truly extreme weather is preparation.

“ Most homes in New Jersey have backup generators if the power goes out, and you need to keep a supply of fuel ready for them in case.

“So we have five gallons of petrol always at the ready, and the house has a circuit you just switch over to if it does go down. Some homes have gas powered generators hooked up the main supply, but that’s not an option where we live.

“Most basements here have a few shelves where you keep soup, tins of food and bottles of water etc ready for emergencies, as well as a camping stove!

“The local towns have great support for road clearance. The town clears and maintains the main highways with big ploughs, but also pays local residents with SUV type vehicles to strap on a front plough fitting, and keep the local roads clear (they do this at all hours in snowy weather).

“ So when it snows, the roads are rarely covered for more than a couple of hours and always completely passable shortly after the snow stops. Many landscape garden firms become drive clearers in the winter as well!

“ You learn about keeping indoor taps dripping, opening the cabinets under sinks and keeping the heating on at night to prevent frozen pipes (as I learnt to my cost last winter, when I had the timer switch the heating off for most of the night, and a pipe burst in the kitchen ceiling causing hundreds of dollars of damage - a good example of changed behavior from home.

“ Public transport is not usually badly affected, although the airports do often have to delay and cancel flights simply due to the backlog of plane de-icing that would be needed. Having said that, other than school buses, there’s not a lot of rural public transport outside the main train lines to and from New York city. Everyone drives everywhere.

“Bottom line is, you get on with it, and remember that we get proper seasonal weather here, not mild all year like in Portrush.

“It’ll be over 37C (100F) a few times in the summer for sure! That’s when you switch modes and ensure you have good air conditioning.”


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