Tag Archives: tucson

Let it go! How to keep the cold from bothering you anyway

Remember the 4 P’s!

It’s the phrase that pays during the Winter in southern Arizona. Temperatures at or below 32° can wreak havoc if you don’t take it seriously. If you’re new to the Sonoran Desert (or a long time desert dweller wanting a refresher in cold weather preps), here’s a handy list to keep Old Man Winter from doing too much damage.

Am I missing something from the list? Kindly make a mention in the comments & I’ll add it!

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THE OBVIOUS (4 P’s)

  • Check in with friends, relatives & the elderly to make sure they have a warm place to stay
  • Bring pets inside
  • Wrap exposed pipes with Styrofoam insulation or newspapers
  • Cover plants or tender vegetation with burlap or a bed sheet

THE NOT-SO-OBVIOUS

  • Set outside faucets to a slow drip
  • Use old socks to cover the tips of sensitive cacti.
  • Along with burlap or bed sheets, some people have also used Christmas lights to keep plants from freezing.
  • Shut off and drain in ground sprinkler systems, including the backflow. Then turn water off to sprinkler system.
  • Keep pools and spas running. Let pool heaters run at the lowest possible setting.
  • Cold temps can drain your tire pressure. Click here for my earlier blog post on why it’s important to avoid “deflategate” during the Winter.
  • Bridge decks and overpasses cool much quicker than roads. Watch for slick spots when driving.
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There’s a halo in the sky!

Every so often, southern Arizona is treated to a huge ring surrounding the sun or moon.

Courtesy: Mark Blomquist

So what causes it? Let’s explore the world of optics. (I promise to keep it simple)

Courtesy: Univ. of Illinois
Courtesy: Univ. of Illinois

Hexagonal ice crystals are typically found in high level clouds like cirrus. These ice crystals refract sunlight or moonlight twice, netting a 22° shift from its original path. The net result is the brilliant 22° halo that catches the eye.

Courtesy: Georgia State University
Courtesy: Georgia State University

When the sun is out, the 22° halo can create an added bonus: sun dogs. When the hexagonal ice crystals line up horizontally with the sun, one to two bright beams develop on each side. Known technically as parhelions, these beams point vertically due to the sunlight passing through the flat-falling ice crystals. It’s typical to see a slight rainbow within the sun dogs due to the prism effect from the ice crystals.

Told you I’d keep it simple!