Excerpts from Don Salyards of Winona, Minnesota:
Especially for my readers who live in the southern United States, India and other warm places, let me tell you what life is like at -20 f (-28c):
Outdoor Soda vending machines: Designed to keep beverages cold, in Minnesota these vending machines must also have heating elements to keep beverages from freezing!
Frozen Pipes: If you leave town for more than 24 hours, you better leave a house key with your neighbor. Make sure the neighbor checks your home at least once a day to make sure the furnace hasn’t gone out. If your furnace stops working, within 30 hours the temperature in your home will fall below freezing. At that point the water pipes in the house will freeze solid and eventually split, potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars to repair. I once had 26 pipes split when I forgot to check a property during a 10-day cold spell. The only way to find out where the pipe “splits” are is to turn on the heat, wait till the pipes thaw, and listen for the sound of water running inside the walls. You shut off the water at the meter, fix the split, turn on the water and listen for the water running from the next split! It is a nightmare that many Minnesotans have experienced. ...
The Vanishing Pot of Water Trick: When the outdoor ambient temperature is -20f (-28c) or lower (this won’t work at temps higher than -20f) you can do the “vanishing pot of water” trick. Go into the kitchen and bring a pan of water to a rapid boil. Take it outside, line the kids up and throw the water up into the air (in a direction away from the kids). As the water reaches the cold air, it makes a hissing sound and a cloud of vapor forms. The water never reaches the ground.