Let It Snow! Undead Style

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

It's Thursday again, so that means it is time for zombies! I've been checking out the responses to the Pie survey, and it seems as if people want to hear about some zombie science, but also just some zombie musings in general. So today, I will briefly chat about something that came to mind for me, and please feel free to chime in on the comments section.

I live in Chicago and usually by this time of the year we've gotten a bunch of snow already. Today is January 12th and Chicago is getting its first real snow of the year. January 12th. That's insane! To make matters more depressing, yesterday the temperature topped off near 50 degrees. Oh, Mother Nature. I guess I really can't complain too much because we've gotten a free pass so far. It's really only snowed once this season, and nothing actually stuck to the ground.

Cars buried on Lakeshore Drive during the 2011 blizzard

This cold winter weather had me thinking... what would happen to zombies in cold weather? The answer is both simple and complicated. And I'm not a doctor or scientist, so go with me on this and be gentle.

So, I would assume the number one cause of death in cold weather instances would be hypothermia. We can all agree with that, right? Good. So what exactly is hypothermia and why do people eventually die from it (or complications caused by it)? A straight quote off of Wikipedia states, "Hypothermia is a condition in which core temperature drops below the required temperature for normal metabolism and body functions which is defined as 35.0 °C (95.0 °F)." Great, sounds simple.

But here's the tricky part... if hypothermia is defined as a drop in core body temperature, is it even possible for zombies to technically get hypothermia? A zombie, while although animated, is dead. They don't maintain a body temperature. Also, I personally believe that a zombie loses most basic functions. The virus reanimates the brain, or sends out basic electrical pulses that allow for movement and muscle function. The heart is a muscle, so it pumps, but other organs will not be functional in the same way. Digestive tracks wouldn't really work, livers, pancreas, skin... these things would rot away. They're not needed. Hypothermia breaks down a body's homeostasis, but homeostasis wouldn't be at work in a zombie anyway!

But this doesn't mean that extreme cold wouldn't take its toll on the undead. I feel extreme cold would affect the tissue present in a zombie, skin, muscles, etc. Since the heart is doing a basic pumping of blood, a zombie would be susceptible to extreme frostbite and eventually their blood would completely freeze. They would be completely immobile and not a threat at all.

So now my biggest musing is-- would a full worldwide zombie apocalypse ever be possible? My answer would have to be a huge no. There are too many areas of the world where the weather just wouldn't allow a horde to take over. Just like Napoleon invading Russia. Bad idea. Of course there would be affected areas, but I just don't think it would be enough to destroy the whole world. How many zombie movies have you seen that actually take place in cold weather? The only one I can really think of is Dead Snow (which is a great film, but in retrospect even more completely unrealistic than before). The only thing society would have to worry about would be zombies that would eventually thaw out in climates that have winters and summers. Viruses typically won't be destroyed, they will just lay dormant, so in warmer weather, there is risk of re-re-animation.

In cold weather, humans and the military would have a huge advantage over the dead. I find it would make the end of the world at the decaying hands of zombies impossible. What are your thoughts?