The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

January 12, 2007



It was -48C with the windchill when I woke up Friday morning in Winterpeg.

Biting. Numbing. Deadly. My boss refused to let me drive 2 1/2 hours to Kenora, Ontario, to do a story on that town's 100th anniversary of winning the Stanley Cup.

All school buses in Winnipeg were idled, although schools were open (try figuring THAT one out). Hundreds if not thousands of cars would not start.

Those cars that were on the road were almost impossible for other motorists to see due to the plumes of exhaust fumes being emitted from each vehicle in the frigid air.

The "high" today here was -30C (not including the windchill). I took the liberty of checking Saturday's forecast highs in some of the cities or regions inhabited by regular visitors to this blog...

Delhi, India -- 22C
Sydney, Australia -- 25C
Johannesburg, South Africa -- 32C
Seattle, Washington -- -2C
Montreal, Quebec -- -5C
Billings, Montana -- -12C
London -- 12C
Zeebrugge, Belgium -- 12C
Miami, Florida -- 27C
Boston, Massachusetts -- 11C
Jackson, Mississippi -- 25C
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- 29C
Winnipeg, Manitoba -- -26C

This is all part of a brutal cold snap that follows on the heels of what so far has been an unseasonably mild winter for the Canadian Prairies. Already, four people have died as a result of hypothermia.

Most were in their cars, their cars stalled and they opted to try to walk for help. They never made it.

This cold is affecting fruit crops in California, the entire American Northwest and Canada's West Coast.

It's supposed to last until the middle of next week.

This is a killer cold, so you won't see many kids outside doing snow angels.

And now, I think I can explain what is causing this freakish cold.

It's this...


A new life form of tiny, cold-loving micro-organisms involved in photosynthesis has been discovered in the Arctic Ocean, according to an international team of scientists, including a Canadian researcher.
The tiny plant organism, called a picobiliphyte, is distinct from anything else in the ocean, according to Université Laval biologist and professor Connie Lovejoy.
The picture shows a picobiliphyta cell under a fluorescent microscope. The cell nucleus is coloured in blue, the cytoplasm in green and the plastide, which is responsible for photosynthesis, is coloured in red. The cell measures two by five micrometres.
"It doesn't follow close to anything else we know about," said Lovejoy.
Picobiliphytes are plants containing fluorescent substances that glow under certain waves of light and are small enough to measure in microns — or millionths of a metre.
The discovery came after analyzing DNA sequences of vast amounts of micro-organisms in the ocean. European scientists discovered the peculiar micro-organisms off their shores, while Lovejoy did similar tests in the Canadian Arctic and found the same tiny life forms.
Their odd shape also separates them from typically round algae.

My theory is that this cold-loving algae has migrated south in search of food or publicity and to sustain itself, it has brought the Arctic temperatures with it. I hope this is not the case.

But most of all, I hope my car starts. And if it does, the first thing I'm going to do is head out and buy a new pair of longjohns. Fingers, legs, noses and other bodily appendages can freeze in a matter of minutes.