Yes, Your Tongue Will Stick to a Frozen Pole—And Other Stories | Almanac.com

Yes, Your Tongue Will Stick to a Frozen Pole—And Other Stories


It was so cold that . . .

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What happens when winter temperatures are in the negative double digits? These reports caught our eye, not only because they made us shiver but also because, more often than not, they were prefaced with “I swear this is true.” 

Yes, these are all reports from Canadians because, well, they know cold. Some of these accounts may indeed be apocryphal, but taken together, they give new meaning to the phrase “It was so cold that … .”


Several children got stuck to their playground equipment and had to be thawed off; Moosomin, Saskatchewan; December 19, 1983.

And, yes, your tongue will stick to cold metal playground equipment and flag poles if it’s at or below the freezing point! Don’t try it! If this happens, warm water will release the tongue.


When a Winnipeg hotel caught fire, a person trapped by the flames simply poured a pitcher of water out the window and slid down the icicle on December 24, 1879.


In Kapuskasing, Ontario, tires fell off the rims of cars, on January 15, 1994.

Subzero weather causes air in tires to contract, makes the rubber of the tire stiff, and causes the seal where the rubber meets the metal rim to loosen. The resulting air leak can make the tire flat!


The snapping cold made sleds squeak so loudly that it scared the horses; Iroquois Falls, Ontario; January 23, 1935.


When cattle peed, they had to keep moving so that the icicles they made didn’t freeze them to the ground; southern Saskatchewan; January 1938.

Yes, pee freezes in freezing temperatures! We’ve known hikers climbing windy Mount Washinton, New Hampshire, whose pee froze midstream into pellets. 


Outside of town, you could hear the school bus creaking 10 to 15 minutes before it reached the driveway; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; January 1938.


Winnipeg’s old downtown Louise Bridge over the Red River shrank more than 5-1/2 inches; February 1, 1996.

–22° to –40°F

Lake Ontario froze hard enough for motorists to drive safely between Toronto, Ont., and Rochester, N.Y., over the lake— if the wheels on their cars would turn; February 1934. 

Lake Ontario has completely frozen over only twice in history: February 1934 and the winter of 1874–75.


Smoke froze in the chimney and choked out the fire, and ravens just nodded at each other rather than squawking; Rivers, Manitoba; 1948.

Frigid Factoids

  • Seawater freezes at 29°F.
  • Because mercury freezes at –38°F, alcohol is used in thermometers in colder zones. It freezes at –173°F.
  • Fifty to 70 percent of body heat is lost through the top of your head, but only if the rest of your body is covered up. (Your mother was right, as usual.) 

See 10 more myths about the cold!

Got any more fun facts about what crazy stuff can happen in freezing weather? Please share!

About The Author

David Phillips

David Wayne Phillips, CM is a senior climatologist for Environment Canada (Department of the Environment), spokesperson for the Meteorological Service of Canada, and author. Read More from David Phillips