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December 22-23, 2022: Warm Rain to Arctic Chill


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1 hour ago, George BM said:

Very true. I'm actually talking about the lows areawide in general though. Ex: IAD forecast low was 7F. With wind we'd usually end up at ~9F give or take a degree (courtesy of mixing). I'm just happy to be fully performing with something other than heat lol.

IAD's all-time low of -18 on January 22, 1984 was a result of perfect radiation conditions: calm wind, snow cover, no clouds. DCA only dropped to 3. The afternoon highs reached the mid-twenties.

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Looks like DCA topped out at 22F which would be the coldest maximum temperature for December 24th since records began, narrowly beating out 1989 (23F). The daily average of 15.5F (22/9) also beats 12/24/89's average of 16.5F (23/10), making this the coldest December 24th on record for Washington D.C. 

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At ease my fellow weather weenie brethren (sorry this is long).  We have survived and have just arrived back in the luxury of Southern Maryland at 21F right now.  This afternoon we decided to come home.  The primary reason was because, as I expected prior to the trip, our little Cavapoo - Benson (9.5lbs) - was just too cold.  We tried our best to keep him warm but he doesn't have enough meat on his bones to really keep warm with windchills at -40F.  In any case, we had a great time and I think @WEATHER53 wanted me to spell the truth about the trip so here goes:

1. Tent itself worked awesome.  No issues with 50-60mph gusts.  Probably helped that the rebar was basically frozen into the ground and I had to use a hammer this morning to pry the stakes out.  The only complaint I might've had about the tent was that we probably could have used a smaller tent (or a bigger stove) to keep things warmer.  

2. Politics aside, the Russians make an awesome tent stove (Russian Bear Stove).  Even at -13F with 50mph winds the tent was 30-40F above ambient....which still meant it was below freezing.  But not life threatening.  And this was the first time I used my hot water chimney attachment which is a game changer.  Winter campers know the toughest part of the great outdoors is getting liquid water when its below zero.  This thing - you just pour the water in and it uses waste heat on the chimney to boil water in no time.  You can keep water in it at all times and you always have warm/hot water on tap.

3. You can never spend too much on fancy sleeping bags.  We used -20F down bags that cost about $1100/ea but no joke I literally had the best sleep in years.  I suffer terrible insomnia but last night my Whoop strap indicated I got over 3.5 hours of SWS.  I've been monitering daily since 2018 and haven't even gotten half of that prior to last night.  My wife is a cold sleeper and she also had no issues.  A warm sleeping bag is clutch whenever winter camping/mountaineering.  

4. You're only as strong as your weakest link...based on water and food supply we could've easily lasted 3-4 nights.  But the little pup was another story, as I anticipated.  When we went on hikes around the property, he stayed in the tent in the sleeping bags which was ok.  Shit went pear shaped last night - at 130am we woke up as our stove had gone out* and it was well below zero in the tent.  My wife had to pee so she ventured out to TCB.  Unbeknownst to me Benson slipped out to follow her.  She got back and we realized there was no puppy in the tent.  Panic ensued and after about 10 minutes of us searching outside we discovered him cowering near the G-wagon.  No permanent damage was done but he was one cold pup.  Hopefully he learned his lesson.

5. *Just after #4 I was trying to re-light the stove but smoke kept backdrafting into the tent.  After about 10mins my wife discovered that half the chimney and also the wind shield had blown off into the night.  Once reassembling everything we were able to get the stove started ok again and I slept like a baby until 830am.

6. Bathroom functions...we usually just dig a cathole and TCB (or pack it out) and that way works fine in most all weather...except when you have 50mph winds and it feels like 40 below.  Wife had to deal with some...errrr...complications around trying to do business in the middle of the night.  Mountaineers know that when it's way below freezing and you can't easily wash your hands then the worst outcome is "food poisoning".  We need to figure out a toilet option until we get a cabin built.  There are a ton of composting toilet solutions and so need to get on that and get a mini-outhouse built.  

I think that covers it.  We had an awesome time and with the windchill it's a new low apparent-temp record campout for us.  IDK because while the apparent temp was the worst ever, it never felt really that extreme because we could've always gotten into the G and turned the heat on if we had to.  Not like being at 15k feet and two days away from civilization.  

Ultimately I blame @nj2va...he's the one who found us the property (which is awesome) and facilitated this madness.  I'm really looking forward to when there's a cabin on it and not some candy-ass tent holding on for dear life in the storm. :)

Oh yeah - for the record - coldest temp I saw was -13F with -36F wind chill.  Was -9F when we woke up but the wind was worse in the morning.  



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