It's much the same when Britain gets an attack of the minus-twos. The BBC shows stationary cars, their driven wheels spinning furiously, people without hats or gloves trying to push the car free of the inch-high snowdrift, while the Daily Mail wails that the Met Office has issued a Level Three Alert (temperatures are expected to plunge to -2C tomorrow night) and that snowploughs are out in force across the country. Amid the regular stories of teenage stabbings, we read of passengers stranded at airports, drivers trapped for hours on the M40, service on large parts of the London Underground suspended etc.
Here - life goes on pretty much as normal. Many older cars with iffy batteries (especially those parked outside overnight) or those with diesel engines that have not tanked up with the special winter fuel that doesn't turn waxy when it's under -20C, won't start, so there's a noticeably fewer cars in the lava-flow traffic that's ul. Puławska at rush hour*. Some buses won't start, or else their doors jam, but generally public transport has been running well.
Above: from the website of the meteorological station at the physics faculty, Warsaw University of Technology (click to enlarge). As you can see, the temperature has not risen above -7C all week, and has not risen above -12C since last Wednesday. And bear in mind that this weather station in located in downtown Warsaw, where the urban heat island effect increase the temperatures by a degree or two compared to the surrounding areas. And look at that wind chill (perceivable temperature). Which takes the current perceivable temperature outside my window as I write down to -26C.
Being able to survive in the cold means proper clothes and proper food. I'm eating like a horse right now. Fried breakfasts of pierogi, or (like today) bubble and squeak. Three hot meals a day. And clothing - two pairs of gloves, the outer pair, mittens from Canada (thank you cousin Teresa!) On my feet stout boots with lambskin lining that can (just about) pass muster with an office suit. A furry lumberjack hat, a US Army M65 parka with huge furry hood - and when I'm due to be outside for any length of time, long-johns with wind-stopping patches on the knees. The house is well-insulated with six inches of expanded polystyrene stuck to the air-brick shell, and triple-glazed windows.
And there we have it. My się zimy nie boimy! ('We're not scared of winter!').
This time last year:
First intimations of spring
This time two years ago:
From Warsaw to beautiful Dobra
This time four years ago:
Unremitting February gloom