Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Consequences of a Big Freeze

 The Great Lakes heat shield has had two big hits lately.  For these hits, you saw big impact on the polar blobs coming down.  Now, the shields are down, all heat energy is gone.  

There we have Lake Superior, very deep and huge.  During the summer, the lake warms and might get up to 10 C throughout, mainly through currents and conduction.

In the fall, it gets cold.  When the water hits 4C, it is as dense as it gets, and sinks down in huge plumes.  The warmer water goes up, and floods the atmosphere with heat energy.  During the last big blob attacks, all that warm water gave up the ghost, and now it is all at 4C.

Sad, sad, sad.  No more churning.  When our new blob hits, it can only go from 4C to freezing.  Lake Superior doesn't normally freeze over, so the heat energy released is very small.

The blob will run over them like they don't exist.  Lakes Huron and Erie will complete total freeze-over.

Now, if the weather guys had a speck of physics, they would be ringing the village bells.  This is a big deal!  In my houses, I always had pipes freeze until the famous 1997.  Then no more freezing.

And here's a funny story about Pickering Nuclear plant.  We had the big 90's freezes and that clogged up the station.  We had frazil ice, which is super-cooled drops of water within the main water.  As soon as that drop hits something, like a screen or a pump blade, it instantly explodes into ice crystals which stick hard.  That clogs things up and shuts down the plant.

Upper management was furious about that, and demanded that we engineers do something.  I wouldn't do it because it was stupid, but the boss was forced to design and install it.  It was just a boom that they had to put in and out every winter.  I think they gave up eventually.

That's because it was installed in 1997, and that was the start of the Great Warm Cycle.  It never froze again, and we kept looking at that stupid boom. 

The forecasters won't give a warning until the day before.  If you are smart you will check your piping in uninsulated areas.  I've got a case of wine in the garage.  Prepare for 30 below, and a electricity outage.  My downstairs gas fireplace is totally mechanical.  If you have exposed piping, then run a heat tracer on it.  This will be bad.  The wine bottles explode at -10C.


Brent said...

Hey watch it You're scaring me more than this covid thing ever did.

Harold Asmis said...

ha ha.