Wind power.......?

kris_miFebruary 19, 2004

Does anyone know of a link where you can find out the prices and what you'll need and how much it will cost to set up a generate electrical for your house?



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This is a wind map for your state.

    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 4:10PM
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Wow! Thanks for the links that's a lot of information!!

    Bookmark   February 19, 2004 at 4:37PM
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Kris MI,

My friend, whose system I've written about elsewhere, set up an independent system, with 4000 watt (replaced by 5,000 watt one after lightning strike) small gas-powered fast-running generator. He also bought a heavier, slower running diesel one, but hadn't got it refurbished.

Used the large batteries (2 - 3' high) that they use in telephone system, which they discard about half way through their uselful life to ensure uninterrupted operation.

Trace inverter to change 110 V AC pwer to 24 V (I think) DC current going into batteries, and reconvert before going into house.

Living on 50 acre treed plot of land, he put up a tower about 80 ft. high, I think, with a generator on top - I think a Whisper one, but I don't know much of its pedigree.

He died and I doubt that his wife knows the details, but his son, an electrician who lives nearby will know - on whose farm sits the shop where they build the grain-fired heaters that I've spoken of, here.

I can ask if you wish.

Do you have email address to which he can send info?

Propane-fired kitchen stove, water heater, dryer and furnace in 12' X 60' trailer - plus supplementary light in living room.

Good wishes for arranging a lighter footprint on our fragile earth,

joyful guy

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 4:39AM
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I'd love to hear about your friend's setup. Just click on my page and it says "send me an email"...and then send me an email!! Once you send me an email I can send you one and then we have each others emails..LOL
I'd love to be more self sufficient along with enviromentally careful. I see "energy" in every moving thing...LOL!! Just need to harness it without hurting it.
Thank you all for the info!

    Bookmark   February 20, 2004 at 7:27AM
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Try this site for home made from a volvo engine...complete building tips.
Health warning on wind power towers near homes that low vibration noises that you can't really hear can cause headaches and nausea if too close to the house. A small one within a 100 feet of the house and cause something like motion consider distance from house or smaller blades....check on internet.

Here is a link that might be useful: Volvo alternator wind power design

    Bookmark   March 3, 2004 at 3:02PM
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I think you are the one who sent me an email a while ago, asking for more info about my friend's off-grid electrical generating system that I mentioned earlier in this thread.

He died a while ago, but his son Bill, an electrician that has been seriously involved with it, says to write him at, or .

Hope you get the information that you need.

If the addresses that I've given don't work, write me at my address here and I'll check out what address to use (I haven't used it in a while and am writing from memory now).

Sorry that I was tardy in reply - my old uncle died and I've been house-sitting every night to forestall breakins - a nuisance, as when I want something at home, it's usually at Stuart's, and when I need something at Stuart's, it's usually at home. Or I forget to take something that I intended to.

Plus - my car needed major repair lately, plus son needed to be driven to Holland MI a couple of times recently, etc.

One pleasant surprise recently was that, when figuring out my income tax (deadline Apr 30), I find that I paid just about 10% of income.

Second pleasant surprise - haven't figured asset situation for a while and when I updated it while twiddling my thumbs at Stuart's - found it was larger than I estimated. (:^))

Also - I'm thankful to be enjoying good physical and mental (no comments, please) health - so when you're 75 and in good health, every day is a good day.

Good wishes to you and yours.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   May 12, 2004 at 7:09PM
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We just purchased a house built by a man ahead of his time. The house was completely off the grid. He used wind-generated power since the 1970's. We found out all the neighbors disliked the look of the windmill and hated the noise from the diesel generator that ran in the evenings. We are having the house wired for power.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2004 at 4:55PM
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Here's one with lots of links

Here is a link that might be useful: Other Power

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 6:10PM
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bluerem --- you have learned the hard way that wind power is not the way to solve our energy problems. Wind systems are expense, more expensive than the amount of money they save. For one thing, just check the insurance rates of towers built within a certain distance of any building, yours or your neighbors. And add a little for kids who climb up and fall off. And etc. etc. Unless you are really out in the woods wind is not an option for the average homeowner or the above average one either. It is fine in wind farms up in the mountains until the bird lover group decides the twirling blades are a problem for our feathered friends.
Actually BLUE, wind is a lot of hot air. It is not the answer.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 7:16PM
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Wind power is a viable power option for millions of North Americans both in the form of personal mills and large power arrays. Attempting to scare people from gaining information by using imagery of children being injured from the towers and incredible insurance rates is irresponsible at best.
Have there really been any number of injures resulting in properly installed towers? How about the other things kids climb and fall off of trees, buildings, utility poles, antenna towers, fences and walls? So based on your theories of wind being bad because kids fall of the tower we as a society need to level all of the above to keep kids safe? Kids are kids they will find another way to injure themselves if that is what they are intent at doing, by the way what happened to parents being responsible for their kids? Insurance is going to vary greatly depending on the region do you have proof of the huge principles you have to pay because of wind? In my area it is $0.

Prince Edward Island now generates more than 20 million kilowatt hours of electricity by wind each year that makes for a huge reduction in nuclear, coal and oil burned each year. The hope is to increase that amount in the next few years. Similar wind grids have been installed in many States and Provinces, wind represents a great renewable energy resource in many areas. For each utility sized wind mill in operation we save about 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year.

In the first half of the last century more than 6000,000 wind mills were in use in north America for electricity generation and mechanical use. I think we Should have at least that amount in operation now with more added when the setting is right. Wind mills on smaller scales come in many sizes the technology is continuing to improve and sound is less and less of a concern. And for those of us who live in truly windy areas know that when the wind is blowing you can't hear any thing over the noise of the wind anyway that makes wosh of the turbines turning silent.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 10:38AM
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Back 25-30 years ago, when the nation was optimistic and remembered gas lines, I did a high school research paper on wind generation. I remember a scheme where they planned to put a wind turbine on all of the utility towers in rural areas of northcentral states, like the Dakotas. The plan was that the turbines would feed directly into the grid and add their output to the grid when the wind blew. There was a automatic disengaging clutch for when the wind became dangerously strong to protect the turbines. This plan was hatched back in the '30s or '40s. Were none of the plans like this feasible, or did we just lose our will to be creative in the era of cheap oil? I also remember a wind turbine called a Savonius (sp?) Rotor that was made from oil drums. It turned very slowly, but had lots of torque. My dad always fantasized about putting a couple on top of his barn. Did none of these creative ideas work out in a reasonably economic way? Maybe the price of oil is just still too low.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2004 at 10:26AM
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Interesting to hear from someone who has heard of the Savonious rotor . . . .

Relatively simple to construct . ... a couple of 55 gallon drums can be used . . . optimized designs are out there as well that bring aerodynamics into it for even better efficiency . . . . .

ALWAYS faces the wind . . .that is; it has no "direction"

Jacques Cousteau used one on a ship once . . . a tall vertical "sail" if you will . . . . used it to generate electricity to run the motor and to charge the batteries for night-time use.

Remember one underlying factor with wind power . . . the amount of energy in the wind determines how much you potentially get out of it. Strictly in terms of power; I believe you need a steady 15 mph or better to have enough power in the wind to generate meaningful electricity.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2004 at 8:01PM
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Hi Bob,
My Dad read the Mother Earth News in the '70s. As a matter of fact, he's a Mother's Lifer. He did get some great ideas from the magaizine, mostly ones he fantasized about, rather than did. After all, you can't put Savonius Rotors on a barn you have not repaired and is falling down (it eventually collapsed). The one idea I do regret is the one where he advertised in the P's and S's for a wife. The one he found gave us a lot of grief the first 10 years. His inventive nature (self-closing doors on the house and barn were powered by water-filled milk jugs) is a nice inheritance, though.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2004 at 8:37PM
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I saw a Savonius rotor, a manufactured one, that looked like an egg beater, about 50' high, on a research station in southern Alberta, a couple of years ago.

There is a bank of over 50 wind generators, with three blades of about 90' span on a ridge in a cleft in the southern Rocky mountains, a few miles west of Pincher Creek.

Recently on a phone-in dealing with electrical generation and conservation in this area, an employee of our (formerly provincial government owned) hydro-electric power agency said that major household need for elctricity is in the winter for heating and in the summer for cooling, but that, (in this area at least), stronger and steadier winds are operating in the spring and fall.

Keep up the vital conservation work, all,

ole joyful

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 3:35PM
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If you looking for wind power to be "environmentally conscious" (as opposed to living off the grid), but don't want to or can't spring for local green power generation, these guys might be an option:

There are two ways to buy from them:

(1) Local power company

If you local power company has an agreement with them, you pay to have the power company buy some or all of the electricity you use from wind sources. Now, your source of electricity doesn't change, but, the amount the power company needs to produce from non-green sources will diminish by the purchased amount.

(2) Direct

If you are not in one of their areas, you can buy blocks of power from them that will be used in other areas of the country. The effect being that your block of wind energy will be used somewhere in the US power grid in lieu of fossil fuel sources.

Since we have PECO, and they have an agreement with the company ( ), we'll probably have them add the $.0254 kWh surcharge on to our bill -- about $15/mo.

According to their benefit calculator this prevents
7899 lbs of CO2, 55 lbs of SO2, and 17 of NOx from being released each year and is equivalent to 6853 miles not driven or 537 trees planted.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2004 at 4:43AM
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Wind energy isn't bad, but it just doesn't suit most home users for a number of reasons, such as getting planning permission for the tower. Also, the most successful wind installations had the ideal site picked for them, while many home users are doing the reverse and trying to fit the system to a specific site they allready own. Finally, wind is not the most reliable source of energy and with current technology we need minimum wind speeds to generate any power, and the turbines cut out over the maximum speed, thus you only have a 'window' of potential power generation and nobody can accurately predict how often or when your site's wind speed will be within this window. You can assess the wind speed and know what sites will be most profitable, but ultimately on a day-to-day basis you don't know what will happen. You could go weeks between the ideal conditions during some years, thus wind is normally used as suplimentation to other power generation or a grid connection, not as the basis for a whole system.

Of course there are allways exceptions and situations where wind energy can work well by itself, for example the case study I read a while back about a farmer who installed a turbine that sold energy to the grid and it massively reduced his electric bills, but he was fortunate to have both the ideal wind and planning location available. For the rest of us wind energy is not such an attractive buy for our first renewable energy source.

Solar is far more dependable and has a much bigger 'window' of power generation, and in the case of solar heating it will normally pay for itself within a minimal ammount of time and then everything after that is profit, not to mention it has the lowest initial investment of any renewable I know of. Also the planning permission for solar roof pannels is generally less complex and much more likely to be granted in residential areas. They're allready turning up in residential streets, and unless it's a historic neighbourhood (or has a fanatical HOA) they're very likey to be allowed on your house as well. If this is your first attempt at renewable energy then I'd suggest one of the easier systems like solar heating that pays for itself fast, and then if you want more the savings can be used to help fund more expencive and specialist items like wind turbines.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 10:53AM
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Solar would have some shortcomings for the Innu in Northern Canada, Norway, Russia, etc. where it gets mighty cold in winter ...

... and they ain't no sun for about three months, with short periods of sunlight and that low to the horizon for some months before and after.

Wind ain't so bad if you use an inverter and a bank of batteries.

Good wishes for obtaining your essentiual power with as little disruption to the environment as possible.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   November 18, 2004 at 5:51PM
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Conversely, solar (both electric and heating) works very well in cold climates, often the further north you are the better they work. Snow actually improves the performace as it reflects a huge ammount of radiation rather than asorbing it, which means there's plenty of solar energy available in cold places like Norway and even in mountains. Also, the colder the weather the less cloud cover there is.

Solar heating doesn't need good weather to work, it just needs solar radiation, and cold climates are filled with it.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2004 at 9:57AM
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Hi Bry84 - and others,

Sorry to rain on your parade, but ...

... as I noted earlier, when you go a long way north, the sun does not come above the horizon for about three months.

There is no sun at all.

And the temperature often gets to 50 degrees - or more - below zero.

Even before the sun disappears entirely, and after its return so that there is sone daylight for a short period each day, the sun is low to the horizon, so its rays must travel through a great deal of atmosphere before it arrives at the earth.

Which means that most of its power has dissipated, resultiung in little being left to warm a solar heating/generation array.

And - in erlier generations, before the arrival of white people, there were are no potatoes, vegetables, etc. You went out in the dark, in extreme cold, to spear a seal at a breathing hole - or you died.

There was no metal to build stovepipes, either, or stoves. Or wood to burn, as it is far above the tree line.

Not a pleasant place to live - but the Innu managed it for thousands of years.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 30, 2004 at 7:14PM
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When I said the further north you go the better solar heating systems work, I wasn't expecting anyone to picture the north pole! That's an extreme climate and not really something I have experience with, I was talking about northern climates like Canada and Sweden.

Take a look at this link:

The graphs aren't ideal, but they show that usable ammounts of solar energy can be found even in Alaska. Abmittedly less solar energy is present than that in a temperate climate, but because temperate climates have more moisture in the atmosphere and more cloud cover less of the solar energy ever makes it through the atmosphere to the collector. Every single molecule of water in the air asorbs solar energy, thus on a day with 50% humidity the available energy is going to reduce a lot. Cold air holds very little moisture, thus the light passes through relatively unaffected.

Also, the more north you go the longer the heating season is, thus a solar collector in such a climate is likely to generate more useful heat every year than one in a temperate climate.

And ultimately, the effciciency of a solar collector shouldn't be that much of an issue, provided it generates a reasonable volume of heat. It is after all free energy, so if the northern climates are perhaps 10-30% less effective, it's still very affordable to use bigger collectors or install several in a row. It's not like a reduction in efficiency is bad for the owner's finances or the environment, it's not fossil fuels. Besides, it's allready common in such countries to install substantially bigger heating equipment than we use here in places like Europe and America, so it doesn't seem unreasonable they should install bigger solar collectors either.

Accepting that it will provide different ammounts of heat per sq. foot of collector in different climates, solar heating can be theoretically adapted to almost any environment with sunlight.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2004 at 3:25PM
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I have also thought about using wind power but I am concerned about it's effects on birds. I thought I had read a while back that windmills have a negative environmental effect on them...

I was just wondering how serious this actually is or if there are types of wind genreators that would be better in this regard....I'd hate to be taking out birds of prey and such...If that's the case I'd rather stick to solar or geothermal.

Any info would be greatly appreciated!


    Bookmark   December 3, 2004 at 8:47PM
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The whole windmill's are going to cause birds to become extinct was not much more than people who did not want change being creative with their imaginations. The average grid sized windmill (50-75 foot wing span) may kill 2 birds a year. I know several people with home sized windmills and nobody has ever reported finding dead birds at the base of their towers. Mine is still on back order so I have no personal reporting yet.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 3:26PM
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"Posted by: Bry84 (My Page) on Fri, Nov 19, 04 at 9:57

Conversely, solar (both electric and heating) works very well in cold climates, often the further north you are the better they work. Snow actually improves the performace as it reflects a huge ammount of radiation rather than asorbing it, which means there's plenty of solar energy available in cold places like Norway and even in mountains. Also, the colder the weather the less cloud cover there is.
Solar heating doesn't need good weather to work, it just needs solar radiation, and cold climates are filled with it."

Wow, that is all just so wrong!

Solar energy using panels either heat gathering or PV are entirely dependent on the amount of DIRECT sun rays hitting the panel. You can not reflect sun off of the snow! And the reality is the further north you go the less sun you have. At my latitude at best during the peak of summer I can expect about 4-5 hours of useful sun generation of PV panels during the winter it would be about 1-2. Cloud cover not in cold climates? Are you kidding? We here in the Canadian Maritimes will spend weeks at a time during the winter and never see the sun. It happens every year so far we have had 2 strait weeks last month, it will get worse towards January and February. We had one march and April 2-3 years ago that we had about 6 weeks under gray sky's.

Now Solar heat and electric can still be used in northern climates but the effects are far less than what would be found further south.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 3:48PM
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PV indeed works better in the cold . . . by that I mean that the actual cells; with everything else being equal; produce more at colder temps. Specs on the panels are done at 25 deg C; it gets worse / lower output at higher temps; and better / more output at colder temps. The overall impact however; is not enough to really worry about.

Obviously direct sun is ideal and best . . . but cloudy days do indeed produce meaningful energy. Also we must keep in mind that the spectrum of light WE are sensitive to is NOT the same spectrum that PV panels respond to . . . so what appears to be a cloudy or sunny day to us . . . in fact appears differently to a PV panel.

As far as snow not reflecting the sun, I have to take issue with that. Try skiing on a sunny day and tell me you don't get additional sun exposure . . . just like that off a boat and the water.

I recently hit a record peak PV collection level ( automatically done by the system instrumentation ) on my new system . . . . 3100 watts . . . the panels are rated 2800 watts . . . and it was a day of roving lake-effect thundersqualls . . dark clouds & snow, then intense sun . . there was snow cover on the ground for the first time with this system . . .

They've been in most of the summer and certainly we've had clear days . . and I never reached that level of output before. So between cloud edge-effect and the reflection from the snow; it is obvious that snow indeed reflects the spectrum WE are sensitive to, but the spectrum that PV's use as well.


    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 6:26PM
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Snow reflects the entire light spectrum, thus it apears white (unless you live in London where we have grey snow). Obviously it's very unlikely to reflect straight off the snow on the ground and directly hit the pannels commonly installed on a roof, but when the light photons are bounced off the snow they do go back in to the atmopshere. From here they do a number off things, mostly they're bounced about by the atmospheric gases (mainly water), some are lost in to space and a large number are sent back down to earth again. You can see just how reflective the atmosphere is by looking at the sky. The human eye doesn't see light photons untill they impact particles/gases in the atmosphere, which is why outer space is filled with light photons and still pitch black. One of the many benifits of having atmospheric gases is their ability to trap various form of energy, mainly heat and light close to the earth's surface by reflecting most which are not asorbed on contact with the earth back down again. When the earth's surface is highly reflective the light is constantly bouncing between the ground and the atmopshere, thus raising the levels of solar radiation that will impact the solar collector, and giving a basis to my claim that cold climates are "filled with solar radiation".

While the direct path of light provides the most useful energy in a solar system, a large ammount of energy can also be gained from indirect sources like reflection.

Also, there will be clouds in cold climates, just it's more common to have clear skys in cold weather. The colder the air, the less water it can hold. Weather forcasts are in part based on rules like this because they're so dependable. Without clouds in the way (although in some cases they can actually help by reflecting light back when white and fluffy) solar systems can work better.

Well, I hope this makes better sense. You'll have to excuse my slightly difficult description as I don't speak perfect english and scientific words are not every day lanuage.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2004 at 7:37PM
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"but when the light photons are bounced off the snow they do go back in to the atmopshere." .. . . this makes no sense. They bounce off whatever they hit; and angle of incidence equals angle of refraction. This is physics and does not change. Once reflected they go along their merry way until they hit something . . . which might be something 2 " off the ground, or they may find their way back up to the atmosphere and hit a cloud or even go right back out into space again.

" there will be clouds in cold climates, just it's more common to have clear skys in cold weather." . . . gotta question this as well . . . .

Clouds form based upon RELATIVE humidity . . . a given mass of air with a given mass of water in it; may or may not form a cloud . . . the colder it is; the less water required to form a cloud. Pressure can play a part as well; but my point is that you cannot equate cold weather with clear skies . . . clouds form based upon relative humidity with a small impact from atmospheric pressure. I live where it gets pretty cold at times ( - 20 deg F ) and there certainly is NOT a lot of sun here in the winter. 20 + years of WBAN data on solar collection here supports that as well. I will agree that on a clear COLD day; there is indeed less moisture in the atmosphere to impede energy transfer than on a clear HOT day. There may indeed be areas where clear / cold weather is common due to various circumstances . . . but it does not mean that everywhere that it's cold has clear skies . . .


    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 7:38AM
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You said yourself that your solar PV system hit a new record when it snowed. I've heard similar accounts in a number of places. It would seem that snow improves their performance, and we can debate the reasons why on the photon level, but it doesn't change the fact that covering the ground in something highly reflective seems to boost the light levels on surfaces that aren't directly in their path of reflection.

My description of how light behaves in the atmosphere and with various weather effects is exactly related from textbooks I have. There is no assumption or guessing here, simply passing on the information in a way that is relevant to solar collectors. A gross simplification is that light hits the snow and when reflected back in to the atmosphere often makes it's way back down to earth again, giving it a second chance to hit the solar collector.

As for cold climates having less cloud, it's a widely observed situation and weather maps consistently show less cloud cover in cold climates. Before the water even makes it in to the atmosphere it needs to evaporate, a process controlled by temperature. In very cold climates like the artic the ground is frozen solid with no liquid water to evaporate, while a little less north the water is still cold enough to slow evaporation to a fraction of what it would be in warmer weather. In some places, probably down wind from a large body of water, you will get clouds regardless of the temperature, but the global trend is lower temperatures mean less cloud cover.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2004 at 10:37AM
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I never said that the sun doesn't reflect off snow.

Only PV panels can effectively use sun reflection from snow to there benefit and they need to be positioned to receive the light, heat panels generally gather less than 5% from reflection. That means that roof mounts are almost entirely out of the question leaving only ground or horizontal mounts, lessening depending on the tracking capabilities and your latitude. The kind and age of snow also come into effect, its a bit like skiing fresh powder is the best as the snow ages or becomes icy the reflection diminishes.

I would really like to see your weather data on cold climates. I have lived in them my whole life and my reality certainly doesn't click with your "widely observed data". Certainty the world possesses places that are both cold and arid but they do not always go together.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2004 at 10:40PM
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P.E.I. *cold*?

Heck - you got all of that water around you.

We here amongst the Great Lakes have a lot of water around here, as well - and it sure can get chilly.

Damp, too.

They talk about "dry cold" out west as not seeming so chilly - but it can sure freeze one's butt off, as well.

Happy holidays, all.

joyful guy

    Bookmark   December 15, 2004 at 8:48PM
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Joyful Guy,

No we certainly are not as cold during the winter or as hot during the summer as you guys. But we do keep it below freezing for the majority of the winter and he dampness is always present, thanks to the water. The winter temperatures were substantially colder when I lived in the Northern Catskills but the dampness on the island and the constant wind do make it feel colder.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2004 at 11:23AM
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