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  #1  
Old 07-26-2011, 08:08 AM
BDoors BDoors is offline
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What does "ten below" mean in Fahrenheit-using countries?

I did Google it but am not getting a definitive answer from the likes of Yahoo Answers et al (quelle surprise). So does "ten below", for example, mean below freezing or below zero Fahrenheit? Obviously "ten below freezing" should mean 22F, but often people seem to just say "[some number] below".
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  #2  
Old 07-26-2011, 08:09 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Below zero, of course.
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Old 07-26-2011, 08:10 AM
VunderBob VunderBob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BDoors View Post
I did Google it but am not getting a definitive answer from the likes of Yahoo Answers et al (quelle surprise). So does "ten below", for example, mean below freezing or below zero Fahrenheit? Obviously "ten below freezing" should mean 22F, but often people seem to just say "[some number] below".
Ten degrees below 0F.
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  #4  
Old 07-26-2011, 08:19 AM
Jenaroph Jenaroph is offline
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Below zero. If it's between zero and 32 out there, you'd probably just say "It's below freezing."
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Old 07-26-2011, 08:23 AM
BigT BigT is offline
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Originally Posted by Jenaroph View Post
Below zero. If it's between zero and 32 out there, you'd probably just say "It's below freezing."
And if you wanted to say "ten below freezing," you'd just say "22 degrees" or maybe just "20 degrees." Heck, I guess some people might even say "20 above."

As a direct answer, "10 below" in Fahrenheit is "23 below" in Celsius.
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  #6  
Old 07-26-2011, 08:23 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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You can find examples of the usage in Jack London' To Build a Fire:

Quote:
As he turned to go on, he spat speculatively. There was a sharp, explosive crackle that startled him. He spat again. And again, in the air, before it could fall to the snow, the spittle crackled. He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air. Undoubtedly it was colder than fifty below--how much colder he did not know . . .

[a few paragraphs later] In reality, it was not merely colder than fifty below zero; it was colder than sixty below, than seventy below. It was seventy-five below zero.
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  #7  
Old 07-26-2011, 08:25 AM
MeanOldLady MeanOldLady is offline
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That means it's February in Minnesota.
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  #8  
Old 07-26-2011, 08:38 AM
Al Bundy Al Bundy is offline
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ten below zero

Nobody refers to 22 degrees as ten below, nobody.

Ten below is -10 degrees Fahrenheit. That's 10 degrees below zero (0).
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  #9  
Old 07-26-2011, 08:43 AM
BDoors BDoors is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
Below zero, of course.
OK. It didn't seem that obvious to me because I speculated that perhaps, under a system in which the freezing point is not zero, it might be useful to give temperatures relative to freezing rather than leaving people to do the mental arithmetic of "shit, that's twenty-five degrees below freezing" or whatever. I guess I'm just used to a system in which things are always relative to the freezing point.
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Old 07-26-2011, 08:51 AM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BDoors View Post
OK. It didn't seem that obvious to me because I speculated that perhaps, under a system in which the freezing point is not zero, it might be useful to give temperatures relative to freezing rather than leaving people to do the mental arithmetic of "shit, that's twenty-five degrees below freezing" or whatever. I guess I'm just used to a system in which things are always relative to the freezing point.
We don't need to do any mental arithmetic. We've had this system our whole lives and it's second nature to us. We know without consciously thinking about it that when the temperature is below 32 it's below freezing, when it is significantly below 32 it is "wicked cold" and when it is below 0 it is "f-ing cold." HTH
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  #11  
Old 07-26-2011, 08:54 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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The construction "ten below" sounds uniquely North American to me. We wouldn't say that in the UK, we'd say "minus ten" and mean -10C.
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Old 07-26-2011, 09:07 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
The construction "ten below" sounds uniquely North American to me. We wouldn't say that in the UK, we'd say "minus ten" and mean -10C.
That's just kooky-talk. Thank god we got shut of you whackos.

Last edited by Chefguy; 07-26-2011 at 09:08 AM..
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  #13  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:16 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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That's just kooky-talk. Thank god we got shut of you whackos.
Shut it, pilgrim.
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  #14  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:19 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BDoors View Post
OK. It didn't seem that obvious to me because I speculated that perhaps, under a system in which the freezing point is not zero, it might be useful to give temperatures relative to freezing rather than leaving people to do the mental arithmetic of "shit, that's twenty-five degrees below freezing" or whatever.
Temperature is such an ingrained part of our experience that we really don't need any specific indicator of relativeness to freezing. We don't need to figure out that 10 below is 25 degrees below freezing. 10 below is 10 below.
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Old 07-26-2011, 09:19 AM
Merneith Merneith is online now
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Originally Posted by BDoors View Post
OK. It didn't seem that obvious to me because I speculated that perhaps, under a system in which the freezing point is not zero, it might be useful to give temperatures relative to freezing rather than leaving people to do the mental arithmetic of "shit, that's twenty-five degrees below freezing" or whatever. I guess I'm just used to a system in which things are always relative to the freezing point.
North American - I've never heard anyone, even once, say "ten below" when they were talking about 22 degrees Fahrenheit. I also don't know anyone who bothers doing any math to figure out how far below freezing "ten below" would work out to be. Thirty-two degrees, twenty-two degrees, and ten below don't really relate to each other. They all occupy distinct points on our mental scale which goes something like:

Freezing
Cold
Really Cold
Really Fucking Cold
Zero
Below Zero
Ridiculously Cold
Witches' Tits.

In general, I would say North Americans don't really care what the actual thermometer says - we're more interested in the what the weatherman says about windchill factor or the humidity, probably because those are more extreme numbers.
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  #16  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:27 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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If there's any halfway logical complaint about Celsius, I figure it's this: "zero" under that scale isn't nearly as cold as most of us have experienced under normal weather conditions. But 0F probably is. If it's zero degrees Fahrenheit, you know it's f__kn cold!
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  #17  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:29 AM
MeanOldLady MeanOldLady is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
If it's zero degrees Fahrenheit, you know it's f__kn cold!
Ah, or May in Minnesota.



I'll stop now.
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  #18  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:31 AM
Munch Munch is offline
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Yeah, 32F isn't all that cold in the winter, but 0F is. Things don't really feel all that cold until they hit 20F.
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  #19  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:33 AM
BDoors BDoors is offline
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Jeez, I wasn't trying to attack the American way of life. Just explaining why, from the perspective of someone accustomed to a freezing-point-based system, it seemed a reasonable possibility that "ten below" meant "below freezing".
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  #20  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:36 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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I don't think anyone took it that way? I sure didn't.

Though I'm American, seeing as I'm living on a !@#%# humid subtropical island at the end of !!@@#$|<ing July, I'm quite accustomed to reading the temperature in Celsius. I don't even want to think about what the temperature "really" is in Fahrenheit.

Last edited by Koxinga; 07-26-2011 at 09:40 AM..
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  #21  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:38 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BDoors View Post
Jeez, I wasn't trying to attack the American way of life. Just explaining why, from the perspective of someone accustomed to a freezing-point-based system, it seemed a reasonable possibility that "ten below" meant "below freezing".
We're not reacting to an attack. We're trying to tell you that this is not how we experience temperature. Do you experience temperature relative only to its relationship to the freezing point? We don't.
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Old 07-26-2011, 09:46 AM
BDoors BDoors is offline
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Originally Posted by Acsenray View Post
We're not reacting to an attack. We're trying to tell you that this is not how we experience temperature. Do you experience temperature relative only to its relationship to the freezing point? We don't.
We measure it relative to freezing. I can't tell you how other people experience it. I imagine along the lines of "cold", "not cold", "bloody cold" etc., much like Americans.
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  #23  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:49 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Are you in the UK? How cold does it get where you are?

ETA: Once again, in Taiwan Celsius makes a lot more sense in that respect. It's so !@#$!ing dank here in the winter that 15 degrees feels like freezing, and actual freezing (0 degrees) is just unthinkable.

So I'm able to keep a nice clear separation in my mind. 60 degrees Fahrenheit is a nice brisk day in Austin, whereas 15 degrees in Taiwan feels like I'm on a windswept outpost in the Bering Strait.

Last edited by Koxinga; 07-26-2011 at 09:54 AM..
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  #24  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:54 AM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
Are you in the UK? How cold does it get where you are?
Five below damp.
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  #25  
Old 07-26-2011, 09:57 AM
BDoors BDoors is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
Are you in the UK? How cold does it get where you are?
South-east England, yes. In winter it typically gets down to low-single digits (Celsius) overnight. Overnight lows of down to about -4C are not that unusual. The record low in London is -10C.

Last edited by BDoors; 07-26-2011 at 09:59 AM..
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  #26  
Old 07-26-2011, 10:00 AM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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Pfff. -10 means spring is finally arriving here.
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  #27  
Old 07-26-2011, 10:01 AM
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As a native Californian, I object to some of the characterizations of Americans in this thread.

For me, ten below is ten below 50F.

There is no such thing as 0F. It's a ghost story told to kids.
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  #28  
Old 07-26-2011, 10:11 AM
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The great thing about winters in MN is that people tend to also say "10 above". Because you don't want to just say "10" and leave doubt, in case someone thinks it's a balmy day, suitable for sun bathing.

Joe
moved south, but grew up there
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  #29  
Old 07-26-2011, 10:32 AM
Claire Beauchamp Claire Beauchamp is offline
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Originally Posted by BDoors View Post
Jeez, I wasn't trying to attack the American way of life. Just explaining why, from the perspective of someone accustomed to a freezing-point-based system, it seemed a reasonable possibility that "ten below" meant "below freezing".
And the North Americans are just trying to explain that we don't care about "relative to freezing" and it sounds like you're trying to tell us we're wrong. Not in so many words, but that's the attitude that's coming through; you're beating a dead horse. You asked what a term meant, it was explained, and you kept saying, "but, but, but" as if it was an argument you could win.
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  #30  
Old 07-26-2011, 10:36 AM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is online now
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Yeah, the freezing point doesn't have a lot of relevance when it's common during the winter for the temperatures to go a couple of months without ever getting that high. I think most people in colder climates think about it only twice a year: when it's been below the freezing point long enough to go on ice, and when it's beginning to hover close enough to it that going on the ice is no longer safe.
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  #31  
Old 07-26-2011, 10:45 AM
Arrendajo Arrendajo is online now
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Well I have heard 10 degrees below freezing (22 degrees) referred to as "10 below" by local TV news people who get pretty excited when we have really really dramatic weather, such as temperatures below freezing, above 78 degrees, or when there are several thunderclaps in a row. Yup seriously. Comes from living in a place where the weather extremes run from "cold & rainy" to "cool & cloudy."
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  #32  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:00 AM
bordelond bordelond is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
Though I'm American, seeing as I'm living on a !@#%# humid subtropical island at the end of !!@@#$|<ing July ...
[aside]

For some reason, until very recently, I thought that Taiwan was a lot closer to Korea than to, say, the Phillipines. I had that wrong for a long while.

[/aside]
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  #33  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:06 AM
The Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman is offline
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Originally Posted by Merneith View Post
North American - I've never heard anyone, even once, say "ten below" when they were talking about 22 degrees Fahrenheit. I also don't know anyone who bothers doing any math to figure out how far below freezing "ten below" would work out to be. Thirty-two degrees, twenty-two degrees, and ten below don't really relate to each other. They all occupy distinct points on our mental scale which goes something like:

Freezing
Cold
Really Cold
Really Fucking Cold
Zero
Below Zero
Ridiculously Cold
Witches' Tits.

In general, I would say North Americans don't really care what the actual thermometer says - we're more interested in the what the weatherman says about windchill factor or the humidity, probably because those are more extreme numbers.
What's with this "North American" crap ? We use Celsius up here in Canada ever since the mid seventies and its been one of the few aspects of our metric conversion that has totally eclipsed the Imperial/American system.

Kids today, haven't a clue what 32o F represents anymore.
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  #34  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:08 AM
BDoors BDoors is offline
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Originally Posted by Claire Beauchamp View Post
And the North Americans are just trying to explain that we don't care about "relative to freezing" and it sounds like you're trying to tell us we're wrong. Not in so many words, but that's the attitude that's coming through; you're beating a dead horse. You asked what a term meant, it was explained, and you kept saying, "but, but, but" as if it was an argument you could win.
I have not exhibited any such attitude. Somebody said "below zero, of course" and I acknowledged their answer and then merely explained why it was not "of course" to me. I'm not arguing with anybody (well, except you, now, I suppose).
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  #35  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:09 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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We also say the temperatures are "in the twenties" which not only tells you that they are below freezing but gives you a rough idea of how far below freezing they are. Then you've got "in the teens" and "single digits" for when the temperatures get colder than that.

When the temperatures hover around zero, that's when you'll hear people say it's above or below zero, as in "it's five above" or "it's seven below".

The Fahrenheit scale was specifically designed so that zero is about as cold as it ever gets and 100 is about as hot as it ever gets (in Europe, where Mr. D.G. Fahrenheit was located), so in many places it is fairly rare for temperatures to go below zero or above 100. Usually saying what decade the temperatures are in gives you a good idea of how hot or cold it is (ex. temperatures are in the nineties this week). It is very common for people to say fifties, sixties, etc. to refer to the temperature.
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  #36  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:11 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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As opposed to the rest of the metric system (ease of convertibility into other units and all that), as far as I can see there really shouldn't be any basis for arguing Celsius has any advantage over Fahrenheit, at least in everyday use.

Not to disparage our northern neighbors, I'm just saying, you say potato and I say po-tah-to.
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  #37  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:18 AM
The Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman is offline
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Originally Posted by Koxinga View Post
As opposed to the rest of the metric system (ease of convertibility into other units and all that), as far as I can see there really shouldn't be any basis for arguing Celsius has any advantage over Fahrenheit, at least in everyday use.

Not to disparage our northern neighbors, I'm just saying, you say potato and I say po-tah-to.
Actually we still say "potato" the same way you northern Americans do. And we say "about" not "aboot" as well
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  #38  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:19 AM
Blaster Master Blaster Master is offline
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The question has already been answered well, that "10 below" unambiguously means -10F in America. That said, I do often hear temperature relative to the freezing point, but it's usually used vaguely. For example, you might hear "below freezing" but that typically means something around 25-32F, as otherwise you'd just hear that it's 20F or whatever. But even then, I don't really hear it used so much to describe the temperature as much as a way to remind people that the roads will be icy or whatever.
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  #39  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:21 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
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Moving thread from IMHO to General Questions.
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  #40  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:26 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Originally Posted by The Flying Dutchman View Post
Actually we still say "potato" the same way you northern Americans do. And we say "about" not "aboot" as well
It's a figure of speech.

Last edited by Koxinga; 07-26-2011 at 11:27 AM..
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  #41  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:32 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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It's a figure of speech.
No, you're a figure of speech. ::shakes fist in defense of Canada::
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  #42  
Old 07-26-2011, 11:39 AM
johnpost johnpost is online now
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Originally Posted by The Flying Dutchman View Post
What's with this "North American" crap ? We use Celsius up here in Canada ever since the mid seventies and its been one of the few aspects of our metric conversion that has totally eclipsed the Imperial/American system.

Kids today, haven't a clue what 32o F represents anymore.
in near tropical Canada they might also use F degrees, at least some border Canadian radio will mention both units for some of the weather forecast.
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  #43  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:02 PM
srzss05 srzss05 is offline
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Occasionally on the radio I'll hear some dumb disc jockey say 40F is twice the temperature of 20F. Real weathermen would never say something that nonsensical.
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  #44  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:10 PM
Lemur866 Lemur866 is offline
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Originally Posted by engineer_comp_geek View Post
The Fahrenheit scale was specifically designed so that zero is about as cold as it ever gets and 100 is about as hot as it ever gets (in Europe, where Mr. D.G. Fahrenheit was located), so in many places it is fairly rare for temperatures to go below zero or above 100. Usually saying what decade the temperatures are in gives you a good idea of how hot or cold it is (ex. temperatures are in the nineties this week). It is very common for people to say fifties, sixties, etc. to refer to the temperature.
No, 100F was supposed to be body temperature, and 0F was the coldest salt and ice brine that Fahrenheit could make.

I grew up in Fairbanks Alaska. The convenient thing about living there is that 40 below means the same thing in both Fahrenheit and Celsius.
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  #45  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:11 PM
septimus septimus is online now
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Any other Jack London fans? I like To Build a Fire which describes temperatures so low you wonder if there's an off-by-32 error. However this is clarified in the first line of the following excerpt:

Quote:
...
Fifty degrees below zero meant eighty odd degrees of frost....

As he turned to go on, he spat speculatively. There was a sharp, explosive crackle that startled him. He spat again. And again, in the air, before it could fall to the snow, the spittle crackled. He knew that at fifty below spittle crackled on the snow, but this spittle had crackled in the air. Undoubtedly it was colder than fifty below--how much colder he did not know.
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  #46  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:13 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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The Fahrenheit scale is much maligned, but it does suit the US temperature range quite well. Temps above 100F and below 0F are very rare, so anything above or below these figures are noteworthy. 22F might be mentioned as '10 degrees below freezing', but it's usually not because the areas that reach the freezing point will usually go well under that, and there's nothing noteworthy about being below the freezing point. Below 0 is really cold, and it becomes a safety issue in area where people aren't used to that. School was cancelled around here once when the temp hit '5 below'. Kids weren't prepared to dress for that kind of weather. There's less traffic though, because a lot of cars won't start.
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  #47  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:14 PM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
Any other Jack London fans? I like To Build a Fire which describes temperatures so low you wonder if there's an off-by-32 error. However this is clarified in the first line of the following excerpt:
No, I'm afraid I've never seen that before. Sorry.
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  #48  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:16 PM
lieu lieu is offline
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What does "ten below" mean in Fahrenheit-using countries?
That dogs, even those abandoned in Antarctica, are gonna make puppies.
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  #49  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:20 PM
thelabdude thelabdude is offline
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I can't believe a simple question with a simple, unambiguous answer has now reached 47 posts.
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  #50  
Old 07-26-2011, 12:20 PM
Sunspace Sunspace is online now
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"Fahrenheit-using countries"? Plural? Is there more than one Fahrenheit-using country? Officially? (I grant that there's some unofficial Fahrenheit use in Canada; I think I even heard it on the radio a few months ago, on a station that caters to old people and American tourists...)
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