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Cold weather makes my nose run and my eyes water


Clay Thompson
Arizona Republic columnist Clay Thompson offers his humorous look at life in Arizona.
Cold weather matters


Every day I leave home at 5 a.m. and walk about a mile to the bus stop. When the lows get into the 40s my nose runs and my eyes water. Why does cold weather make my nose run and my eyes water?The 40s? You poor baby. May I be allowed one last whine about my recent travels to the frozen lands of the Midwest?

The thing of it is that unless you have a parka or something you have to dress in a lot of layers and that involves, or at least it did for me, a lot of pockets, and I could never find anything or remember where everything was.

As a result, I locked myself out of the car once and the house twice and had to make long walks on ice-covered sidewalks to get back-up keys. I'm pretty sure slathering wolves trailed me on a couple of those trips.

Or they might have just been cats. You never can tell.

As to why your eyes water, I suspect that's because cold weather often is very dry weather so your eyes tend to tear up to keep things damp and lubricated.

As for your nose running, that's a bit more complicated.

Your nose is a busy place. There are a few hundred yards of little blood vessels in there to help warm up the air you take in, and the lining of your nose puts out about a quart of mucus a day to keep things running smoothly.

You swallow most of that stuff, but when it's cold your brain sends more blood to all those little veins and your nose chugs out more mucus than you can easily swallow so it just lets the surplus drip out of your nostrils.

In other words, your nose runs to drain off the extra production.

Another cold weather question:

Bellemont, a small town a few miles outside of Flagstaff, often is listed as the cold spot of the day in Arizona. It isn't that far from Flagstaff so why is it colder than Flag?

Air cools by 5.5 degrees for every increase of 1,000 feet in elevation. Bellemont, where the National Weather Service has an office, is just a bit higher enough than Flagstaff to make a bit of a difference. Not much, but a bit. [The webmaster thinks that location is located damn near the highest point in Arizona which agains explains why it is so damn cold there. - The highest point in Arizona is Humphreys Peak, northwest of Flagstaff, at 12,633 feet above sea level.]

Reach Thompson at or 602-444-8612.


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