How cold? I’m glad you asked. As I write this the temperature in the Experimental Forest is -3°F, up from an overnight low of somewhere around -17°F. We may be the unofficial icebox of the lower 48 states and I won’t last long outside in my jammies.

But this is nothing like Chicago where citizens are trying to keep the feral cat population from turning into catsicles. There are apparently about 200,000 feral cats living on the mean streets of Chicago where temperatures before windchill are dipping town to around -23°F. They are talking about windchills of colder than -50°F. Shelter officials are recommending concerned residents to build little insulated cathouses out of cardboard and plastic bags.

I don’t want to raise any alarms here but I think I may have experienced a frost quake in Tabernash on Wednesday morning. What’s a frost quake, you ask? I’m glad you asked.

York College Professor and Geologist Jeri Jones knows all about the tremblers.

“These frost quakes are a situation where the ground is not frozen totally, but it’s over-saturated and sub-freezing temperatures begin. The ground and water will freeze and expand and it actually puts out a little explosion and people hear this booms,” said Jones.

Speaking of cats, in Dillsburg Pennsylvania resident Michelle Tebbetts was crocheting a blanket in her sitting room when she heard a big crash.

“It sounded like a big piece of furniture fell over… and I’m thinking: what did the cats knock over that was that big and that loud?” said Tebbetts.

That’s exactly what the Tabernash frost quake sounded like. I went outside in my jammies for a look see but I decided to get back inside and hide under the covers instead.

Speaking of Chicago, when temperatures dipped below -20 this week, rail yard workers put chemicals on the tracks and lit them on fire to keep the trains from sticking.

And trust me on this: Go outside tonight and blow some bubbles. They freeze and hang in the air like aliens in spherical mini space ships. Just don’t lick a lamp post while you are out there.

And the postal service has seized up, cancelling home delivery service in large swaths of ten midwestern states, lest the workers get stuck to the metal mailboxes, and dogs turn into dogcicles halfway out of their dog doors.

Perhaps the most worrisome result of the deep freeze is happening in Wisconsin. Almost all beer deliveries have been halted. It turns out the bays in beer delivery trucks are not insulated.

“We’re watching (the weather), we’re planning for it,” said General Beer Northwest General Manager Rod Fisher. “The trucks are heated, but the bays aren’t. It doesn’t take long in these elements (for beer to freeze), especially with trucks going 65 mph down the road.”

Slow those trucks down! It turns out that beer can be destroyed by freezing temperatures.

“Sometimes the ingredients in the beer will actually separate, because there is yeast and malt,” said Park Ridge Distributing’s, Ryan Modl.

It’s science!

Speaking of science, it’s colder right now in Chicago than it is on Mars. On Mars it’s -15°F, it’s -23°F in Chicago and you might find this hard to believe but scientists are reporting that it’s -357°F on Uranus. You would not want to go outside there in your jammies!

Stay warm, dear friends.

Steve Skinner is looking for someone big to spoon with. Reach him at