There is a popular assumption that if you move to higher latitudes (toward the poles) you can escape the heat, and that by moving to lower latitudes (toward the equator) you can escape the cold.

The equation is simple. But is it real? If it was, then the most northerly capital, Reykjavík, would also be the least until they establish a country on Antarctica. Yes, it appears that latitude is slacking off and failing to keep temperatures in line.

This was brought home to me when preparing for a radio interview in Dublin, Ireland. February had just roiled in and I was sitting back comfortably in my good old glacial Ottawa, Canada weather, scraping icicles off my toes. I was giddy with excitement over our warm spell, which it was reaching a high of minus-5 (that's about 20-degrees American). I always ask questions the day before an interview, to learn a bit about my audience, so I asked the producer, "So what's the weather forecast for Dublin?" asked.

"Oh it's horrible," she told me. "People are bracing for a deep winter freeze that's supposed to hit tonight. It might even get as cold as minus-5!"

This blew me away, that the folks in Dublin would be worried about the thermometer dips as low as ours spikes high. After all, isn't Dublin about the same latitude as Ottawa?

Weather forecast from an atlas

I whipped out my trusty atlas. We live almost exactly on the 45th parallel. If we lived exactly on it, we would have to share our bed with a cow and a dozen chickens across the road – that's how close we are.

I turned the pages to find Ireland. Could I have been mistaken? Is Dublin really quite south of us? No, it turns out that Dublin lies at the 53rd parallel. Hey! They should be getting colder weather than us. That's not fair.

The weather is not fair. Dublin is way to the North of us, so why do we get all the cold?

I decided to take a peak at a few other pages of my atlas. Lo and behold, Venice is also on the 45th parallel. Let me tell you that the weather forecast for Venice never calls for getting buried in snow for three or four months of the year...unless you happen to be viewing "The Day After Tomorrow". In fact, the average temperature in Venice in January is +1 (that's about 34-degrees American).

Hmm. I wondered what else lay along the 45th parallel. The French Riviera. Not too much ice going on there. Portland, Oregon. I checked the Portland weather forecast. Yup, same as Venice in January. And Sevastapol, Urkaine, also with January temperatures near Venice.

In fact, no other well-populated area of the world endures so much cold (except parts of Russia, but many of those people can't afford the taxi fare to go somewhere else).

So why do so many people with so much wealth live in such an inhospitable climate? I don't know. Maybe we are waiting for latitude to correct this little anomaly.

Or maybe our brains are simply frozen. Or maybe that's why so many people around here head south to enjoy that warm Orlando weather forecast.


David Leonhardt is an Ottawa, Canada marketing & SEO consultant and author of one of the best self-help books on happiness.