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Justin Kern via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-ND 2.0
Justin Kern via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-ND 2.0

Chicago Is Colder Than Mars This Week

Justin Kern via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-ND 2.0
Justin Kern via Flickr Creative Commons // CC BY-ND 2.0

Chicagoans preparing for holiday feasts this week are in luck: Any food that doesn’t fit in the freezer can just be left outside. The Windy City has been sustaining temperatures colder than most parts of Earth—and, as DNAInfo reports, all of Mars.

The record for lowest temperature in Chicago was set on December 19, 1983, at a blistering -14 degrees Fahrenheit. But 33 years later to the day, that record was nearly broken, as the frozen city reached -13°F overnight. With wind chill, that number dropped to -30°F. By comparison, the surface of Mars looked positively toasty at a comfortable -2°F.

The brutal cold in Chicago has prompted the closing of more than 300 area schools and the cancellation of dozens of flights, and has slowed local trains. There are a few places on the planet that are colder—the North Pole, for example—but most of them are sparsely populated, if anyone lives there at all.

Temperatures began to thaw by Tuesday, December 20, but if Monday’s freeze was any indication, Chicago residents are going to be in for one heck of a winter.

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MegaSecur, YouTube
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Design
The Self-Deploying Flood Barrier That Could Keep Cities Dry Without Sandbags
MegaSecur, YouTube
MegaSecur, YouTube

For many places in the world, the future is going to be wet. Climate change is already intensifying heavy rains and flooding in parts of the U.S., and it’s only expected to get worse. A recent study estimated that by 2050, more than 60 million people in the U.S. would be vulnerable to 100-year floods.

Some cities plan to meet rising waters with protective parkland, while some architects are developing floating houses. And one company has figured out how to replace piles of sandbags as emergency flood control, as Business Insider reports. Water-Gate, a line of flood protection products made by a Canadian company called MegaSecur, is a self-deploying water barrier that can be used to stop overflowing water in its tracks.

The emergency dam is made of folded canvas that, when water rushes into it, inflates up to become a kind of pocket for the water to get trapped in. You can roll it out across a street, a canal, or a creek like a giant hose, then wait for the water to arrive. In the event of a flash flood, you can even deploy it while the flood is already in progress. It can stop waters that rise up to five feet.

According to MegaSecur, one Water-Gate dam can replace thousands of sandbags, and once the floodwaters have receded, you can fold it back up and use it again. Sadly, based on the flood projections of climate change scientists, heavy flooding will soon become more and more common, and that will make reusable flood barriers necessary, saving time and money that would otherwise be spent buying, stacking, and getting rid of sandbags. The auto-deployment also means that it can be used by a single person, rather than a team of laborers. It could just as easily be set up outside a house by a homeowner as it could be set up on a city street by an emergency worker.

As climate change-related proposals go, it sounds a little more feasible than a floating house.

[h/t Business Insider]

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Weather Watch
Thanks to Desert Dust, Eastern Europe Is Covered in Orange Snow
iStock
iStock

Certain areas of Eastern Europe are starting to look a bit like Mars. Over the last few days, snowy places like Sochi, Russia have experienced an unusual snowfall that coated mountains in orange powder, according to the BBC.

The orange snow was the result of winds blowing sand from the Sahara east to places like Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, and Russia. The sand mixes with precipitation to form orange-tinted snow. According to the BBC, the phenomenon occurs semi-regularly, turning snow orange about once every five years, but this year is especially sandy. As a result, skiers are navigating slopes that look like they're from a different world, as you can see in the video below from The Guardian.

The Sahara rarely gets snow, but when it does, the landscape can look somewhat similar, as you can see in this image of the Atlas mountains in Morocco.

Instagram is currently filled with photos and videos from Eastern Europe featuring the odd-looking snow. Check out a few samples below.

[h/t BBC]

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