So you think it’s rough going here?…
This is the time of year I like to take a look at some of the other unfortunate places on Earth because, believe or not, we don’t have winter nearly as bad as some other places. We’re always complaining about living in North Dakota during the winter, but you do know there are far worse place to live, right?
The most obvious is the North Pole. It’s winter there just like it is here. Unfortunately, the average temperature this time of year is 40 below zero, or minus 40 for all you Celsius fans. And yes, that’s an average. What you might find interesting is that in the past 10 years, the coldest temperature recorded at the North Pole has been only 58 below zero.
We can handle that, right? Parshall’s been 60 below, Tower and Roseau, Minn., have been 60 below, Maxbass 59 below. Yes, but what we might not realize is that 58 below will stay for a month until it warms up into the 40s below. The average low temperature this time of year is 35 below and the average high is 31 below. Could anyone exist in that kind of environment? Why, yes they do. Inuits don’t actually live at the North Pole, but they live nearby and have to be a hardy bunch.
It’s summer right now at the South Pole, so it’s probably not a good comparison to look at temperatures here and at the South Pole. However, people do live at the South Pole doing scientific research, and if you think it gets cold here, you’re not even close. All 12 months have below zero lows and record lows, and December and January are the only two month where the temperature goes above zero at 10 and 6 degrees, respectively. OK, that’s an average winter day in North Dakota, but when you consider overnight lows, don’t complain about 20 or 30 below.
On July 21, 1983, the coldest temperature ever recorded on the face of the earth was observed at the South Pole when -128.6 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded. That’s more than double the coldest temperature ever recorded in North Dakota. Can you even imagine that? Motor oil becomes solid at 60 below and gas begins to crystalize. What might happen in nature at a temperature like that? I hope those barracks have thick insulation. How can a temperature that cold even be recorded? What is used to make sure a temperature like that is accurate?
There are numerous places around the world that will get much colder than anywhere in North Dakota. People in the south think that Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Minot are the coldest places in the lower 48. Wrong again. Because we live so close to Minnesota, we all know that Roseau, International Falls and Baudette are colder than any place in North Dakota. For instance, if you think it’s cold here, record lows are in the double digits below zero in Roseau seven of the 12 months. The coldest is 55 below in January. The only saving grace to that is the wind rarely blows when it’s that cold.
Mount Washington, N.H., is another cold place that people don’t normally think of. As an example, the record low at Mount Washington in February is 47 below, which we’ve seen here, but the average temperature in February is 27 below zero.
North Dakota doesn’t list its record and average lows so it would take a good bit of research to find out exact numbers. However, the coldest average temperature in January is indeed Grand Forks, with a high of 16 and a low of 3 below.
Have you ever watched the weather in Aberdeen, S.D? If not, you wouldn’t know that Aberdeen is colder in the winter than most North Dakota localities. Interesting record lows are recorded in eight of the 12 months in Aberdeen. The coldest was 35 below in January and February, and the warmest was 2 above zero which happened in July.
Here’s another oddity for you. Boca, Calif., located at 5,500 feet on the Nevada border, has the coldest temperature ever recorded in California at 45 below. You can contrast that with 134 degrees above recorded at Death Valley.
The coldest regularly inhabited place on earth is Oymyakon, Russia, located at 63 degrees North Latitude. The coldest temperature there in February is 90 below, with the average overnight low of 47 below.
So the next time you think it’s cold here, think of those other poor saps who really deal with it.