Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Hey, it's really not that cold!

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Greg Peck
Friday, January 24, 2014

It only seems like it has snowed every day since Christmas. Thursday's Gazette reported that we'd had only 14 days of measurable snow since Dec. 21. So every day it didn't snow must have been another sub-zero day, eh? I saw a TV meteorologist two nights ago mention that Madison already had 18 below-zero days this “year,” which is the average number for a “year.” He couldn't have meant this year; he must have meant this winter.

Regardless, brace for more nasty weather. Snow is forecast for this weekend, followed by another blast of arctic air.

Say, what happened to our traditional “January thaw”? Oh, that's right. We did have one. I remember racing our two vehicles to the car wash during what must have been that two-hour window of opportunity.

Anyway, I thought we could all use a little perspective during this frigid deep-freeze funk we seem to be in. So I checked out www.weather.com and found the 10 lowest temperatures ever recorded in the United States, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

Wisconsin doesn't even hit the top five. A northwoods hamlet called Couderay, 25 miles from Hayward in Sawyer County, comes in at No. 7. It hit 55 degrees below zero on Feb. 2, 1996, and again two days later.

As you might expect, Alaska earns the top (bottom?) spot. It hit minus 80 in Prospect Creek, a little settlement 180 miles north of Fairbanks, on Jan. 23, 1971.

Sure, you think. But that's Alaska. What about the lower 48 states? Coming in No. 2 was Rogers Pass in Montana, which recorded a bone-chilling minus 70 on Jan. 20, 1954.

I was surprised to see that International Falls, at the northern tip of Minnesota, didn't make the top 10. It always seems to have some of the lowest temperatures.

So if the thermometer around here dips to minus 20 early next week, and a stiff breeze has wind-chill factors hovering around minus 40, what do we have to complain about?

Compared to our nation's all-time coldest spots, it will be rather warm. Sort of warms your heart, doesn't it?

Hey, this is winter, and this is Wisconsin. Bundle up when you go outdoors. And if you can sit inside, throw on a blanket and snuggle up with someone you love.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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