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Weather Talk: Not all cold weather is equal

Perhaps it is out of exasperation, but some people make the claim, "Once the temperature goes below zero, it's all the same: cold." But this could not be further from the truth.

Each degree the temperature goes down is an equal amount of difference in temperature. Ten degrees is 20 degrees colder than 30 degrees. Just as 10 below is 20 degrees colder than 10 above. The difference between 25 degrees and zero is the same as the difference between zero and 25 below.

The colder it is the more energy it costs to keep your house livable, the harder it is for your car to start, and the colder you will get walking from one point to the other.

Summer will bring the same comparison and the same reality. The difference between 80 degrees and 90 degrees is the same as the difference between 90 degrees and 100 degrees. Each unit of temperature range is the same, no matter where it is on the scale.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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