How Cold It Is

It’s so cold that this soda can inside the refrigerator in the garage blew up explosively, cleanly shearing off the top of the can at the seam and coating the lower half of the fridge in cherry cola flavored ice. The rest of the soda in the fridge (the storage of which is what it is used for) as now been brought into the house for the next couple of days at least. And Athena decided to eat what remained of the cherry cola ice in the can. So it all worked out about as well as it was going to. That said: Damn, it’s cold.

48 Comments on “How Cold It Is”

  1. Back when I was a kid living in the Chicago ‘burbs, we used to store our pop on the back porch because my parents had a thing for buying large amounts of pop, which would have taken up too much room in the fridge. So of course storing it all on the porch right off the dining room in the winter was a brilliant idea.

    Until we had an incredible cold snap and woke up one morning to find 4 12-packs of RC had exploded and coated the sliding glass door to the patio in frozen cola. 48 cans of exploded RC = a mini cola glacier on your back porch.

    We started storing the excess pop in the basement pantry after that.

  2. That is nothing, when I was just a pup, in the we we so poor we had no canned soda to utilize in flavored ice experiments. I had to walk 50 miles, barefoot, in the snow, uphill to get a single cube.

    When, I got the cube home we had no blender, no electricity. I had no ice pick either, just my bare hands. If I wanted crushed ice, I would bash it against my head for a few hours.

  3. I would brag about how warm it was here in CA today, but in a month or two we’ll be wearing stillsuits and hanging around outside Google waiting for the towel squeezings, so.

  4. John, you keep mentioning in your tweets about school being cancelled due to weather – so do they get stuck there until July?

    I grew up in Michigan, but have lived in Maryland for over a decade and have become dis-acclimated to cold. I had to walk two blocks in 17 degrees today and it was the worst!

  5. Here in the Phoenix, Arizona area, the temps have been ranging recently from highs in the 70’s and 80’s to lows in the 40’s. I work nights, mostly outside, and haven’t even been using my jacket until about 3AM. I see the weather reports from most of the rest of the country, and wonder if I’m living on some alternate-Earth.

  6. I’m surprised you haven’t lost more diet soda. In the south Chicago burbs all of our diet soda has been in from the garage since the eve of the first round of polar vortex and the sugar soda got pretty slushy. One can of diet was missed and it failed quite spectacularly.

  7. I don’t even want to think about that kind of cold. My commiseration to those in snow country. Which, now that I think about it, might include me – here in the Florida panhandle it has been raining ice pellets since before dusk, and now I can see some snowflakes mixed in. Who ordered this, anyway?

  8. And, in case anyone wonders about why carbonated drink cans fail explosively like this, instead of just splitting open like a can of plain water or juice would do, here’s something I wrote up a on the subject. It has to do with the high solubility of CO2 in water, and its very low solubility in ice.

    (I calculated the peak pressure to be in excess of 147 atmospheres, or a bit over 2100 psi. Most drink cans will rupture before pressure reaches 10 atmospheres)

  9. It’s so cold the refrigerator is wearing long johns.
    And more practical is it’s so cold I had to put a space heater in the refrigerator.

  10. I got up this morning and looked at the weather forecast: “Twenty-six degrees today? YAY! It’s so warm! …WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH MY LIFE?”

    And as I posted on social media: all you need to know about the Puritans, in order to understand their view of humanity and the cosmos, is that they thought living in New England was a great idea.

  11. On a separate note, Cherry Coke Zero is friggen awesome. One of the few things worth crossing the border for.

  12. Oh the humanity! There, there John, sorry for your Coke Zero loss…may it not have died in vain

  13. If you can you might want to unplug the refrigerator. A 1980s unit could run in just about any temperature, but those from about 2005 forward only operate properly when the air temperature is above about 55 degrees. Also, they don’t have a heater to warm the air up from zero to a refrigerator temp of about 37. The coolant thickens and eventually the compressor will go kaput because it can’t push it through the evaporator. When I sold them our delivery teams would warn customers every time we moved a unit to a garage or left one in a garage because of this problem.

  14. Oops not evaporator, through coils. Though the water in the evaporator can freeze, cracking the pan and making it hard for the unit to keep from overheating later on.

  15. It’s so cold that you’d have to be crazy to believe in things such as ‘global warming’…
    Such statements are probably the worst things about these cold spells, they make my head hurt much more than shovelling four feet of snow at minus 20 degrees.

  16. I live in Utah. I keep 12-packs of soda in my garage because they stay nice and cold and, if you’re really lucky, slushy. I have had a few explode like this though. I wish the mess had been contained in a fridge. Instead, it was spread around a well-used section of my garage.

  17. When it gets really cold, i remember there is an entire country north of minnesota and wonder how the hell people live up there.

    Btw, there a cool show on national geographic called life below zero about people in northern alaska. Its pretty interesting.

  18. Wait, you have Cherry Coke Zero in Ohio? I don’t believe it’s made it to my portion of the northeast yet, dammit.

  19. Me to neighbor: “Winter’s back!”

    Neighbor to me: “Wimpy Winter’s become a snowbird.”

    Really, looking at the numbers for January 2014 here in Minneapolis/ St.Paul Minnesota, we’re behind in snowfall, and having a colder than usual winter — roughly 90% of the winters for the last 144 years that we have records for were warmer than this, about 10% were colder. Some of them much colder, I can remember down into the -30ºFs and below ranges. Lowest this year has been around -22ºF. (Those numbers are thermometer temperatures, not wind chills.)

  20. I almost feel guilty…ok, not really…saying it’s 9am here and I have the doors open because it’s almost 80 degrees outside. Unfortunately this also means our water sources are drying up, but at least we’ll die warm.

  21. Guess writes:

    When it gets really cold, i remember there is an entire country north of minnesota and wonder how the hell people live up there.

    While such people are perhaps a marvel, there aren’t as many as one might expect.

    I was at a convention panel once, and one of the writers on the panel pointed out that N% of Canadians live south of Minneapolis, and N was fairly substantial. I was a bit surprised, probably because I’m from the West and was used to thinking of Canada as being north of that big straight line. Unfortunately, my Google foo is too weak to find any sort of statement substantiating a claim like that, but I did turn up this population density map.

  22. It must be the geometry of the can– I’m surprised it split along the top seam, rather than along the pop top. Maybe because the pop top is intended to snap IN, rather than OUT (with freezing expanding soda).

  23. Wow. I thought that was Krissy in the picture.

    also, has anyone read “A Creed for the Third Millennium” by Colleen McCullough? Its an interesting book that takes place int he near future where it is a bit on the chilly side: the description of the book says: ‘Tomorrow’s America is a cold and ravaged place, a nation devastated by despair and enduring winter.’

    I’ve always had some issues with the writing of the characters, but honesly, its what keeps coming to mind every time we have a new polar vortex warning and now snow in Hotlanta and New Orleans. Enjoy. Laura

  24. Interestingly it works the same way at the other end of the scale too. For various reasons I usually have a 30 pack of Coke Zero cans living in the boot (trunk for speakers of American English) of my car. On extreme summer days the temperature in the car can top 50C and I now know from experience that in such conditions the cans will explode in exactly the same way if nudged or picked up. I’ve spent far too much time this season cleaning Coke Zero off my back windows! On the other hand if I’m careful I can fling Coke Zero bombs across the back yard! :)

  25. Another fun thing to do is get a two liter of pop nice and frozen. Go outside. Chuck it as high as you can. When it hits pavement, it will explode and sound a bit like a gun.

  26. So…..I live in the metro Atlanta area where, yesterday, the entire city and surrounding suburbs exploded like a frozen soda can onto the highways and side streets and then froze there. Literally. There are thousands of people who spent the night in their cars, thousands of kids who spent the night in their schools, on school buses, in fire stations, etc……
    If this happens in Buffalo, everyone is home for dinner. Happens in the 9th largest metro area in the nation, it’s Armageddon. Very frustrating.

  27. Mike, what happens if you match up a climate map to the population map?

    Guess, we of the frozen North wonder how you guys can stand the heat down there. I immigrated to KC, and when we get the 100F summer heat down here, you can find me hiding in my modern cave, huddled around the a/c.

  28. I once left a bottle of 7UP in the window of my dorm room when it was a bit warmer than this, but still below 0C, and it was supercooled and very cool to watch it turn to a slushie when I opened it. Cans just aren’t the same.

    I agree that I’ve been through colder winters here in MN. For example, even though my car is not hiding in a garage overnight, it’s never been cold enough that I had to use both hands to shift my car into first. Sadly, I never went out to see if the “toss boiling water into the air and watch it turn into snow.

  29. You must have gotten the weather we had yesterday. Sorry about that; didn’t mean to send it your way.

    The scary thing is that it’s starting to feel almost routine to me. “Eh, air temps in the -20s, wind chills in the -40s, same-old, same-old,” you know. Get the big puffy coat out, drag out the fur-lined mad bomber hat, go on about my business. At least until I get the next gas & electric bill, which I am already dreading.

  30. Maybe it’s just me, but isn’t that a medium big spider inside the top?  Or fly or moth?

    Must be me, no one else mentioned it.  What would Rorschach think . . .

  31. Heat wave in New York a few years ago. The natives were wearing shorty shorts and the heat killed quite a few of them.
    Some guy who was wearing a long sleeved shirt and jeans got asked ‘is it hot’ and ‘where you from.’
    He answered with an indifferent “I guess” and “Florida.”

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