I sometimes wonder what the scale of our overland travel is in these United States relative to other parts of the world. So to help visualize that thought I found (stole) this map from Radical Cartography.
I like this map because not only does it overlay Europe and North America but it does so true to latitude, with some surprising results that highlight the importance of ocean currents and landmass on climate. Short story: south isn’t necessarily better.
For example you can see that Des Moines, Iowa, is about as far south as Rome, Italy. Des Moines’ average low in January is 14F while Rome’s is 37F. Manchester, England is further north than Edmonton, Alberta. Yet Manchester’s average low in January is 35F, compared with Edmonton’s 5.4F.
What about distances? In 2013 we drove from New Jersey, to Rapid City to Denver and ultimately down to Dauphin Island, Alabama, and a lot in between. That’s equivalent to driving from eastern Turkey to the romantic city of Florence to the beautiful island of Sardinia and then to somewhere in the Egyptian desert.
Next week we will drive, over four days, from Dauphin Island to Denver. Equivalent to Egypt to Sardinia. We’d happily take the Sardinian cuisine and beaches!
The featured image (the one at the top) shows plant hardiness zones globally and was taken from The Plant Encyclopedia. As a general goal in winter, we try to spend as much time as possible above 32F to avoid having to deal with things like frozen water lines. For that application the USDA plant hardiness zone map is the perfect guide since the zones are based on low temperatures.
Our goal would be to spend all of winter in zone 10b or higher. In the US that’s basically South East Florida and the coast of Southern California.
Unfortunately this isn’t possible for us, yet. The best we can consistently do for now is get to zone 8a which puts us in the southern half of Arkansas and lows of 10F. Right now, on Dauphin Island, we’re in zone 9a, with lows of 20F.
It’s important to point out that plant hardiness zones are based on lowest expected temperatures, not averages. Averages are generally well above that. For example in Little Rock, Arkansas, we can expect an average temperature of 39F in January with an average high of 49F and an average low of 29F. That’s good enough.
We’d still take Sardinia.
– Anthony, Dauphin Island, Alabama