Friday, 7 March 2014

What's About the Wind-Chill? People Who Take That Into Account in Richard Rohmer's Balls!

TransState Gas Distribution Vice President of Operations Tom Megarry:

"Temperature of ten below and a wind of fifty miles an hour gives a wind-chill factor of, get this Seventy degrees below zero!" (p.41)

Dunlop Tires' Mike Kowals:

"That's nothing, Joe.  On the late news last night they said with the wind-chill factor it's gonna be like seventy below zero..." (p.58)

Maria Kowals, homemaker:

"Yeah, they say it's fifteen below zero and the wind-chill factor makes it about seventy below." (p.64)

Joey Kowals, attorney-at-law:

"With the wind blowing outside and the chill-factor of seventy below zero we'll never get that room above freezing." (p.86)

New York Governor Richard Sharpe:

"On top of that, a large low pressure area has just started to move in across Lake Erie and Buffalo, bringing with it heavy snow and high winds of up to fifty miles an hour gusting to sixty, creating a wind-chill factor in the range of seventy degrees below zero..." (p.99)

The Radio Stations

"The radio stations warned those trapped in cars that the odds against survival for more than ten minutes outside in the prevailing wind-chill factor of over seventy degrees below zero were minimal." (p.117)


"Authorities advise that with the current wind-chill factor of over seventy degrees below zero Fehrenheit, no one should go outside unless it is to go to an emergency shelter." (p.122)


  1. This was supposed to have a heading:

    What's About the Wind-Chill? People Who Take That Into Account in Richard Rohmer's Balls!

    See, now it's hilarious.

    1. Hey, look, someone fixed it for ya.

  2. Complain all you want about weather forecasters, but here they were spot on.

  3. Do you mean "wind chill" or "chill factor"? They are used interchangeably - but are they? Hmmm.

    I have a related physics question: When Joe and Julie Kowal wake up at 6, it's 48 degrees in the house. 2 hours later, it's down to 11. Isn't that a little fast? Surely the house would retain some heat and it would drop a little slower. Even with the wind chill/chill factor.

    Unless this is one of those famous 3-walled houses Buffalo is known for - then it all makes sense.

  4. All seriousness: This book was partially written by somebody else. The hundred pages with the Kowals bear no resemblance to Rohmer as we know it. The whole book is better -- the writing is just better -- than the others, even the inevitable meetings and phone calls where white men in suits form an endless circle of bringing each other up to speed. Brian, how to we flush the editors out into the open and make them tell us what they know?

  5. The Kowals section was indeed atypical - both in terms of style and in terms of plot - when before had we ever spent so much time with ordinary people to see the story played out? We didn't meet a typical Quebec family to illustrate the emotional decision facing them in Separation (1 or 2); we didn't meet any of the millions of people facing the unknown while preparing to leave the UK in EXODUS UK.

    POV from the pawns is not what we have come to expect.

  6. The Kowals section is atypical, but then so is much of what came before it (but in a different way). Did I really just read four pages about the hunt for extension cords (which itself followed the drama and moral quandaries surrounding the search for a space heater)?

    There's so much that can be said about the Kowals, their brilliant son, and his beautiful bride, but I'll save it for a proper post… after I finish writing my next Canadian Notes & Queries column. Late next week, I'm guessing.

    I have no idea who edited Balls!, though I do know a man who edited one of Rohmer's later books.

    On a related note, according to the United States National Weather Service, the combination of temperature and wind velocity should make for -80°F. Oh, and you'll get frostbite within five minutes, not ten as Rohmer reports.

    Even more dramatic, don't you think?