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 Polar Vortex

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PostSubject: Polar Vortex   Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:03 am

Has anyone ever been in extreme cold - temps whether it was work related or maybe not by choice ? I thought this would be an interesting topic seeing how my home state of North Dakota has been making National News.

This morning while I was up having coffee waiting for my GF to return from work, I had just seen on the weather channel they were talking about a Polar Vortex. How interesting I though, that's a new one for me.

I used to work up in the Arctic of Alaska, North Slope Prudhoe Bay as a rig welder, I thought I had heard all the extreme weather terminology there was to hear? Guess not !

My GF just finished her 12 hr night shift, she loads frac sand outside at a rail yard in Stanley ND.She was telling me how dead it was at work because the cold -20F temps and -60F wind chill had the oil well shut down.

I was thinking to myself that up North those -temps are just another day at the office.So I proceeded to explain what I thought was cold temps to be out working in. I remember one time on a rig modification/shut down, the thermometer that was mounted to the Crane Boom reached -40F. The worked stopped for 3 days until the temperature would stay a few degrees above -40F on the Crane Boom.

Not only are the Hydraulics greatly effected by the extreme -temps, The structural integrity of the boom steel is also greatly effected. So a Crane rated at 200 ton in those extreme cold conditions would greatly compromise the lifting capacity down to maybe 50 ton.

Safety was a big factor when it came time for us to be working out in the extreme -temps. If the drilling rig was sitting on an open hole  and it was drilling and the weather turned to a phase 3 no travel conditions. The rig would just circulate drilling fluid in the well to keep things from freezing until the phase 3 and -temps were lifted.

A phase 3 is considered a blizzard white out, snowing and blowing so hard you cant see in front of you to walk.I have seen ropes tied between the rig and man camps just so the crews can change out safely in those white out conditions.Another safety concern was if any crew member were to get hurt working in those conditions, many miles out in the middle of nowhere on an Ice pad. It would be impossible to fly anyone in or out for medical treatment,regardless of the seriousness of the condition.So they shut things down and if you were lucky enough to be working with some old rig hand. You would get to hear his stories of how they had to work in those conditions all the time ! Go figure LOL

I thought this would make for a good lounge Topic for today, since everyone around me thinks the -20F ambient with -60F wind chill is to cold to work in! :P
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PostSubject: Re: Polar Vortex   Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:55 am

Well, in a previous life (job) where I wore uniform (some of the time) I used to spend 3 months of the year in Norway, or even further North in the darkest depths of the winter.....................I know it was bloody cold not sure my math allowed me to work out the temps! All I know is that it wasn't a good idea to take a leak up a tree as things had a tendency to freeze really REALLY quickly!

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PostSubject: Re: Polar Vortex   Wed Jan 08, 2014 4:00 am

last friday it was -43 C in the morning (-45 F). you could hear the swear words coming from the engine of my lil honda as it struggled to start.

shocks and brakes don't work so well at that temperature.
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PostSubject: Re: Polar Vortex   Wed Jan 08, 2014 6:12 am

Hello tritowns, would that be -43 C ambient air temp no wind chill ? I have a little 2007 Chevy Aveo 5 my GF drives back and forth to work in  the -temps.

I bought the car new years ago in Alaska and after everything was broke in, about 8000 miles, I changed all the oils to synthetic and have had great results in the cold weather.

I also cover the radiator in the front and lay a small piece of fiberglass insulation over the engine. This helps with holding the core engine heat so all the PCV emissions don't condensate up and start throwing ecm  trouble codes.
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PostSubject: Re: Polar Vortex   Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:42 pm

Too funny on the timing of this post man, I was just thinking today how I lived for four years in Fairbanks Alaska as a boy, I read in the news where one mayor shut down the roads not allowing anyone to drive.

Hell I thought back as a boy we drove on streets of ice all winter long, you saw no black pavement and when I was a boy it hit -40 a couple of times and that was no wind chill factor.
However I do remember walking through the neighborhoods and seeing all the cars and trucks tied to the electrical outlets like horses tied to a saloon post.

People here in the Northwest have no clue as to driving in the winter snow, they all turn into raving lunatics.

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PostSubject: Re: Polar Vortex   Wed Jan 08, 2014 2:32 pm


People here in the Northwest have no clue as to driving in the winter snow, they all turn into raving lunatics.


I am sure you have heard of all the oil activity going on in the western part of North Dakota? From Minot ND, West to the Montana boarder resides your transplanted raving lunatics.

I would be guessing 85% of them are from the south up here chasing the oil field money. I live 35 miles east of Minot on Highway 52, and for only a 2 lane, there is plenty of big truck traffic headed west.

I have always had the time of my life when I am up in Alaska, just like a kid in the candy store, learning and experiencing all I can of the last Great Frontier.

People hear the tails of Alaska's extremes, nothing better then getting the chance to experience it first hand. I was fortunate enough to purchase a little 2 acre piece of land down in Clam gulch, so I always have a good reason to return.

Not a lot of people know Fairbanks AK has extreme temperatures ranging from over 100F in the summer, to -40-50F ambient less the wind chill for weeks on end in the coldest parts of the winter.

I bought a used military surplus 2003 F-350 4x4 crew cab that came out of Fairbanks. It came equipped with 2 head bolt bock heaters,one 110V battery warmer, a transmission pan heater and a pan heater for the engine oil.

On the North Slope of Alaska when its extreme cold they will have a big bulk fuel truck drive threw the parking lots at night, Fueling all the diesel pick-ups and big trucks that are running. They like to keep these trucks running 24-7 to keep them from freezing up, Now that's cold.
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PostSubject: Re: Polar Vortex   Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:21 am

DK yes that was without wind chill... just dang cold.
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PostSubject: Re: Polar Vortex   Thu Jan 09, 2014 3:58 am


Dang, would be the first time I have heard that word used in the same sentence with cold.

I have always heard the oil rig hands use the 4 letter word that starts with F, then that, other 4 letter word that starts with a D, then cold after.   :lol!: Rig hands dont waste much time with mixing words, they just get her done !  cheers
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