It Was So Cold That . . .


A Polar Vortex.

Photo Credit
James J. Garriss

It's been a cold one! Take Saturday, January 4. The the Earth’s orbit around the Sun put the globe the closest it gets to the Sun each year.

During the next two days, it was so cold that . . .

It was so very cold on January 6! (shiver)

  • Wind chills brought temperatures in parts of the Midwest to -70˚F! Without the winds, temperatures were a balmy -30˚F in parts of Minnesota and North Dakota.
  • An Arctic vortex—yes, air that normally lurks around the North Pole—swirled its way around the Midwest and headed toward the East Coast.
  • Americans got to watch flash-frozen football players in a Wildcard playoff. Not surprisingly, San Francisco withstood the cold and won. To quote Mark Twain, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer day in San Francisco.”

A polar vortex – when Arctic air comes south. Click to enlarge.

  • The roaring booms of frost quakes awakened Canadians. These frost quakes - or cryoseism, are caused by water seeping into the soil and then freezing so quickly that they cause the earth to shake with loud booms. They are common on glaciers, not Southern Canada.
  • Arctic snowy owls, (Harry Potter’s owl) invaded the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, and were even seen as far south as Florida. When an Arctic bird feels at home in Florida – it’s too darn cold.
  • While owls were flying around, thousands of air flights were grounded. Driving, when possible, was a frigid nightmare.

To quote meteorologist Ryan Maue, who watched it safely from Tallahassee, Florida, "If you're under 40 (years old), you've not seen this stuff before."

Remember, in previous blogs, the Old Farmer’s Almanac noted that the Arctic air this summer was the coldest on record. The amount of polar sea ice in September was 60% greater than it had been last year. Normally the Arctic has 90 days with temperatures above freezing but this year it had less than 50!

This summer the Arctic sea ice was 60% greater than last year, but still below the 30 year average.

Winter is when the cold polar air masses expand south. This year the air that was swirling south was intensely cold. So bundle up and stay safe.

Also, if conditions were crazy, share it here with us. We are all (shivering) in it together.



RedRedWine59 (not verified)

7 years 10 months ago

It's so cold in Wisconsin that the lakes froze up solid, but luckily just before they did the fish got out and went to Alaska where it's warmer. lol

I don't mind a day or two of this below freezing windy stuff, but after a day or two that'll do. Then it can go back to a warmer temperature in the teens. ;)

Every year we complain in the fall about temps in the 40's and even 50's, but by this time of year if we get a 40° day, a few people will even start wearing shorts. It's amazing how quickly the body adapts to temperature changes.

now that's cold ! we just bought some Wisconsin cheese the other day and had to leave it on the counter for three days to thaw out ! you know it's cold when you're cheezes freezes !

Trudy Absheer Rangel (not verified)

7 years 10 months ago

It was so cold that my sleeping gear included sox, bulky sweaters and fleecey sweats or Betty Boop fuzzy pj bottoms. To my dtr's disdain: NOTHING MATCHED! but I slept well. even used last year's Christmas gift of flannel sheets ...a fuzzy oversized throw and a light blanket made my "cave" comfy all night-even turned thermostat down. When overnight "big" snow predicted, I moved trash dumpsters to the patio,covered my car, treated driveway, patio and planned not to reappear for a while; checked every window, door, and outside wall for air leaks: stuffed newspaper, plastic bags when I found them; added rugs and blankets at bottom of all outside walls. Awoke Sunday to 12" (I measured it) of white stuff making opening the doors a bit of an effort: soft, fluffy and beautiful. And then had a sudden urge for SNOW ICE CREAM! made 2 small dishes: chocolate almond milk, vanilla and sugar in one; eggnog with a little Bordens condensed milk for the other. Nobody else was impressed-but I was 10 again.

Jeanette C Lopera (not verified)

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by Trudy Absheer Rangel (not verified)

It is nice to hear of someone who really enjoys winter weather and a good snow. I was born in January and it is a favorite month of mine. Most people hate it and miss the magic it holds.

jeltez42 (not verified)

7 years 10 months ago

In reply to by Trudy Absheer Rangel (not verified)

Thanks for the suggestion. I almost caved in to a craving for ice cream and will be making snow-cream today.