In case you haven't noticed: it is pretty cold outside right now! All the tell-tale signs of a fierce winter cold snap are out there: areas throughout the Midwest and Northeast are feeling subzero temperatures and wind chills up to -45 degrees, people are at risk for frostbite setting in after as few as 10 minutes outdoors, and your dad has been sending you emails with the subject line "Cold enough for ya?!". It. Is. Damned. Cold. Even if you're (hopefully!) sitting inside a nicely heated building right now, odds are your entire body is chapped, your will to live is completely sapped, and you're wondering if it's too late to move to Arizona and work at your old college roommate's "healing crystals" emporium.
Cold causes plenty of serious calamity in the world — since we're only weeks past that upstate New York snow storm that stranded some drivers inside their cars for four days, I'm sure I barely need to remind you of that — but it also causes some minor chaos that's more intriguing than life-ruining. Cold weather can mess with every area of our lives, and while sometimes the cold acts like a vengeful death goddess, other times it acts like a stoned, hacky-sack-loving prankster who just wants to mess with you (again, like your old college roommate).
So let's all warm up by remembering five times when the cold weather caused crazy-ass happenings that pushed the limits of reality and/or our sanity, but, thankfully, not our mortality.
Children Get Their Tongues Stuck to Flagpoles
Surely you've been curious. You're only human, and you've seen A Christmas Story approximately 90 bajillion times. And so, even though you are a grown, responsible woman, when you walk by a flagpole in the wintertime, you quietly wonder to yourself, "Could that REALLY happen? Would my tongue really get stuck if I licked it? I mean, what if I just did it for a second? Wouldn't it make a hilarious Instagram?"
Well, luckily, a number of research scientists/idiot kids have done the work for you, and definitively proven that your tongue will get stuck if you lick frozen flagpoles — in fact, nearly every year, children and tweens who apparently don't know how to google this kind of stuff get stuck to a flagpole when the saliva from their tongue freezes to the metal. Most of them end up requiring medical intervention, too. Flick from A Christmas Story got a statue made in his honor for licking a flagpole, but the five actual kids whom I discovered in my casual research about people who got tongue-stuck to flagpoles will receive no such honors.
Engagement and Wedding Rings Fall Off At An Alarming Rate
Fingers contract in the cold weather. What the hell does that have to do with you? Well, it might be of concern if one of your freezing digits is carrying a ring that cost two months salary. The finger shrinkage caused by cold temperatures have been know to make engagement or wedding rings fall off — like that poor Colorado man who lost his wedding ring while skiing in Vail in 2009.
Football Games Get Played on Ice-Covered Fields
Feel sympathy for the players every year that the Super Bowl is held in a freezing climate? To put their spandex-clad suffering into perspective, you may want to think about the infamous football game known as the "Ice Bowl." This 1967 National Football League Championship Game, which pitted the Green Bay Packers against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field in GreenBay, Wisconsin on December 31st, is the coldest football game in history. Come game time, temperatures were -13 degrees, with a wind chill of about -45 degrees. A faulty heating system left the football field coated in a thin sheet of ice. The national anthem wasn't played because the band's instruments froze up; referees' whistles wouldn't work (and in one case, got stuck to a referee's mouth); commenter Frank Gifford's cup of coffee froze solid in his hand, and one elderly fan actually died of exposure in the stands.
The game, considered one of the greatest in pro football history, went on anyway, and the Packers won, heading on to Super Bowl II, where they triumphed again. Also, don't worry about those football players! They'll be fine! They have heated benches and also they are millionaires.
Frost Rips the Ground Apart
Looking for a way to combine all the fun of a very small earthquake with the excitement of unexpected loud noises and the joy of freezing temperatures? Well, friend, have I got the natural phenomenon for you: frost quakes! What is a frost quake, you ask? Well, when a cold snap and a piece of land love each other very much, the cold snap makes temperatures suddenly plunge, freezing all the moisture in the soil, which then causes the ground to suddenly expand, and rip open — all accompanied, of course, by a loud popping noise that makes anyone nearby think that their house is exploding. During the cold snap of winter 2014, the usually-rare frost quakes tore their way throughout Canada and the Midwest, spooking grandmas and delighting smug newscasters alike .
Schools of Fish Get Flash-Frozen
Typically, only the surface of a body of water freezes. That's why you can ice fish, or dramatically fall through the ice while skating like Amy from Little Women. But small bodies of water sometimes freeze right through, and sometimes, if you're lucky, a lost group of fish get stuck in there and create a crazy photo opportunity. On the Norwegian island of Lovund last winter, thousands of fish were flash frozen in shallow water when the temperature fell to 18 degrees. Aquatic creatures can usually survive the winter by staying below the surface of the water, but this school had somehow been pushed to the shallows, possibly because they were being chased by a predator, and ended their lives frozen solid. But fret not! They served as an adorable background for a lot of photos of dogs, which is one of the noblest life goals that any of us can aspire to.
Images: MGM; Giphy (2)