For two days last week, real winter took charge. The air temperature crashed into negative numbers. And relentless winds chased down and punished any exposed skin, like a state trooper on the tail of a speeder.
Where to escape such an onslaught?
Manchester does have some hot spots, no matter what February throws at us. So even though the weather improved on Sunday, here are some hot spots to keep in mind for the next big chill.
No need to warm up before starting your 90-minute session at Hot Yoga Manchester.
A hot yoga session begins at a toasty 105 degrees, 40% humidity.
“The heat is very therapeutic. You get warmed up from the get-go,” said Angela Zervos Martinez, who has owned the yoga studio for the past eight years.
At midweek last week — before the cold snap — 18 people were basking in her mill space, which is on Foundry Street on the West Side.
And she only expected more as the week went on.
“In the wintertime, it’s always busier,” Martinez said. “People say you come in and it feels like a blanket.”
Manchester no longer burns its trash, at least its household trash. But Manchester is the only community in northern New England that burns what we flush.
The gas-fired, brick-lined fluidized bed incinerator at the Manchester wastewater treatment plant reaches temperatures of about 1,500 degrees, said Fred McNeill, chief engineer of the plant.
“There’s always an operator in the control room (when the incinerator is running). It’s toasty up there,” he said.
About one-third of the energy radiating out of the incinerator gets put to use; it warms the cavernous treatment plant off Gay Street. By the time it reaches the incinerator, the waste is about 30% solid and resembles concrete slurry.
“We run it in batches, three, four, five days at a time, then a couple days off,” McNeill said. Outside temperatures play no role in when McNeill fires up the incinerator.
“It depends on the volume of product we have.”
That’s the estimated temperature at E&R Cleaners, the massive laundry and dry cleaning facility on Ross Avenue behind Walmart.
The cavernous facility has its hot spots.
For example, the shirt pressing area. Workers dress torso-shaped steel plates with washed shirts, the machine releases a puff of steam, and blowers shoot out hot air like a car heater on high.
A few of the 175 workers dress in T-shirts, but E&R can hardly be called a sweat shop.
“We have become so energy-efficient over the last 10 to 15 years,” said company President Rick Botnick. A trailer-sized washer holds 400 pounds of clothes, which are tossed around with washwater heated at a not far-from-scalding 130 degrees.
“When I came in this morning, it was freezing. It was nice to come in here,” said supervisor Dennis Ford. “In the summer, it’s a little hot. We wear shorts and drink lots of water.”
Celsius, that is. Fahrenheit doesn’t get much respect among the scientists at the Dean Kamen-founded Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute.
ARMI nurtures human cells in a brine maintained at a cozy 37 degrees Celsius. That allows the number of cells to double every 24 hours, said Chief Technology Officer Tom Bollenbach.
The cell soup rests in plastic trays that sit inside a white-sided, climate controlled box that could pass for a dormitory-sized refrigerator.
Digital readouts provide the temperature and the level of carbon dioxide, which maintains the necessary acidity for the cells to flourish.
The cells get fed a glucose-heavy solution that looks like cherry Kool-Aid.
“You’d probably taste a lot of salt if you drank the broth,” Bollenbach said.
As for the 37 degrees Celsius, that translates into a body-perfect 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cremation provides an inexpensive, respectable departure for our loved ones.
Cremations take place inside an oven-like cremation retort, and temperatures can reach or even exceed 1,600 degrees, according to Michele Phaneuf-Plasz, vice president of Phaneuf Funeral Home and Crematorium.
Phaneuf operates three retorts four times a day and is adding a fourth. It can take up to four hours for the cremation and subsequent cool-down.
More and more, relatives are saying their final farewells beside the retort.
“Some families want to come in and have an opportunity to say goodbye right before the cremation,” she said. They put a rose in the hand of their loved one. They even push the button to start the process.
The gas-powered retorts generate a lot of heat, but the heat vents to the rooms above the crematorium, which are used for storage, she said.
That’s the maximum temperature at the sauna at the Executive Health and Sports Center in south Manchester.
And if you don’t like dry heat, there’s the steam room, which tops out at 115 degrees or the poolside hot tub, at 102 degrees.
And even though the outdoor pool is closed during the winter, the indoor pool is a comfy 84 degrees, accented by the sun that shines through high-paned glass windows, said club President Justin Benton.
That’s the forecast high for today. Because you know what they say about the weather in New England. If you don’t like it, stick around. It will change.