I’m on holiday in Ottawa, Canada, one of the coldest capital cities in the world. It’s sunny here and not snowing, but the temperature is staying under -5C (and well under -10C at night).

What makes it cold here? Well, the biggest reason is that it’s in the northern hemisphere, where it’s winter now. The Earth is tilted at an angle that means that right now the light from the Sun is hitting the northern hemisphere at an angle, not straight on. A lot of it reflects away rather than being absorbed and turned to heat. Ottawa is relatively far from the equator, so it doesn’t get much sun heat.

The other reason is that the shape of Canadian landscape and prevailing wind patterns mean Ottawa gets a direct funnel of cold arctic air. London, for instance, is much farther north but isn’t nearly as cold as Ottawa in winter because the former gets warm air carried by the warm current from the Gulf of Mexico.

Some kinda day

It’s gloriously sunny and warm today. Not only have I relaxed and had fun, I’ve got a lot of stuff – shopping, a bit of yardwork – done, too. Maybe this will be the spring and summer to make up for the last two crappy ones we’ve had.

Snow problem

London has just experienced its first snow of the winter. Just a few wet flurries, lasting minutes, of course, and it’s melting as soon as it hits. They say we may get some more overnight.

The Londoner in me wants to stay snuggled up at home. The Canadian in me wants to venture out and show these sissy Brits that a few wet flakes and some cold wind isn’t an excuse for hibernation.

Stormy Monday

The UK is experiencing what may be our worst storm of the winter. It’s certainly raining and blowing pretty hard here in west London at the moment. I’ve decided to work from home today:

The Met Office warns rail delays are likely, with the worst weather expected to strike on Monday afternoon. Some rail services have already been cancelled.

I hope Tuesday isn’t just as bad.

Labour wins in Ealing, and I’ve got that soggy feeling

We got home last night, walked to our polling station to vote, then stopped at the Red Lion on the way back to eat. The cold light of morning now shows thatthe Labour party hung on to Ealing Southall, but the Liberal Democrats significantly reduced the margin.

My attention is already on to new and pressing concerns, however: namely,how not to get washed away (Maidenhead, in Berkshire, is where I work). Getting from the train station to the office – a bus trp of 10 minutes – took an hour this morning because of flash flooding and the resultant traffic chaos.

Run like the wind

I’m working from home today and went for a run at my lunch break (because I have my philosophy class tonight and so won’t be able to run then). It felt twice as hard as normal because we’re having terrible winds all over the UK. Luckily, it didn’t rain much.

Here’s what bugs my science mind, though. The park I run around is roughly circular, and the winds seem relatively unidirectional; therefore the amount of energy expended to run should be the same, since sometimes the wind will be hindering me and sometimes it will be helping me. It doesn’t ever feel that way, though. I just feel like I’m being battered all the time. Maybe that’s because it’s a very gusty wind, or because having trees on one side or the other on different sides of the park blocks the wind on one side only.

I was actually getting a bit worried whilst running. There were little branches coming down all the time in the strong wind. In one spot a 20-foot, coupla-hundred-pounds limb had come down earlier and lay right across the path.