What mild winter? Shoreline drug store boasts temperature of -196F


    Seems like it might have been a little cold in Shoreline Thursday night. (Photo: Brian Michael)

    SEATTLE -- Ice scrapers have been collecting a bit of dust this winter with freezing weather a bit of a rarity, but perhaps not so in Shoreline, where blow torches might be in order.

    How else to get off all the caked ice when the temperature drops to a bone-freezing -196 degrees?

    At least, that's the opinion of one drug store thermometer in Shoreline.

    Sure, Western Washington is known for its microclimates, but that was some 243 degrees colder than nearby Paine Field in Everett. It's not quite the temperature where you get liquid nitrogen (-321 F), but it would freeze carbon dioxide at -110F, literally taking some of your breath away.

    But in what might surprise you, -196F would only tie the all-time record January low temperature in Western Washington!*

    (*if you exclusively use drug store thermometer signs...)

    Last January, two local Walgreens thermometers also registered a chilly -196 degrees.

    But just think! That kind of temperature would flash freeze Puget Sound, instantly solving our Alaskan Way Viaduct closure by allowing Downtown traffic to just drive across Elliott Bay! (Just watch for that cross traffic driving in from Kitsap County!)

    But as we found out during last year's "deep freeze", just don't open the window...or doors. Frostbite would hit pretty quick at -196. After that? Well, a quick search of the internet asking, "what's the coldest temperature a person could survive?" found a handy chart...that only goes down to -100.

    (As an aside, I have to wonder, why specifically -196? Why not, say, -200? What software engineer thought, "you know, we ought to at least have room for negative triple digits on the reader board" as if to prevent some Y2K-esque crisis should such a freeze were to descend upon the thermometer?

    "Oh no! We weren't ready for negative triple digits! It only reads -99! How embarrassing!" the engineer would struggle to say through the incessant teeth chattering. Seattle has never been below zero; Washington has never even reached -50, and the planet hasn't ever been colder than -128, and that was in Antarctica where, rumor has it, drug stores are rather scarce. But if the Ice Age Cometh, you can count on our local drug stores to be ready to tell the story.)

    Long range forecasts suggest a bit of a warming trend for Shoreline...and perhaps a visit from IT techs to one particular spot in Shoreline. (Maybe a software update too?)

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