If the temperature never got above zero

This map, released today by the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, makes winter look just as bad as you think it’s been.

It added up all of the hours in which the temperature has been below zero and calculated the total number of days of nothing but below-zero weather.

For the Twin Cities, that’s about three weeks. For northern Minnesota, people might as well live underground.

Iowa Environmental Mesonet

The forecasters say the cold weather will continue into next week. Of course, a week ago some of them said the below-zero temperatures wouldn’t be back until next winter.

  • MrE85

    At least the cold would kick the emerald ash borer’s butt.

    • Guest

      Per an Entomologist. Temps need to be 30 below to casuze die off of the emerald ash borer.

      • MrE85


  • taj79

    Thanks for posting that. I’m surprised by the sharp gradient in the Iron Range — can anyone answer why northeastern Minnesota does not stay below zero like northwestern Minnesota? This map suggests that even the Twin Cities has been below zero more than the northeastern tip of the state.

    • My guess would be the lake, the same thing that makes it so much colder in the summer. But it’s only a guess.

      • Dave

        Possibly also the albedo in that area is lower than in NE Minn (due to vegetation). Lower albedo absorbs more solar radiation, making it warmer.

      • taj79

        I agree, that would make sense that it probably is the lake.

      • John

        Once you get about 15-20 miles in from the lake, I think it has little to no effect on the temperature. The hill upon which Duluth is built seems to keep the lake effect near the lake. I grew up on the iron range, and our temps were always more extreme than at the harbor in Duluth. We weren’t typically really far off from the Duluth airport (the news – at least back then – would always give two temperatures for Duluth: the harbor and the airport).

        I’d guess the significantly higher amount of tree coverage in the NE helps, as it keeps the air from moving around so much, and (I think) keeps the temperature a little less bouncy.

        • John

          and replying to myself, because I”m classy like that. Looks like exactly what I said on the map. . . one of these days I’m going to actually go back and look at what people are talking about before I open my big mouth. Also – I learned a new word today – albedo. bonus.

  • Dave

    Sure it sounds brutal, and it is. But that number doesn’t really mean anything. Temperature is an arbitrary scale. You aren’t really measuring anything. If this morning it was 2F and now it’s 4F, you would not say that it’s twice as warm.

    Accordingly, who would really say that 0 is any different than -1? But anything “warmer” than -1 isn’t counted. This map is cool, but it doesn’t really show the miserableness of this winter. I’d rather see a map or a count of number of hours colder than average.

    • jon

      0F is a rather odd number to get excited about because we’ve crossed that threshold .. I’ll give you that…
      Ultimately what the maps is showing is how many hours of “REALLY COLD!” that happened… Personally I’d like to know what the numbers look like for just below freezing (a much less arbitrary number since so much of our surroundings (and insides) are made up of water)

      Or If we are going to pick an arbitrary temperature what about -40 degrees (chosen because there is no need to put a scale value on it.)

      • Bill

        Saw a graphic yesterday that showed that 91% of the hours since Dec. 1 have been below freezing. That ought to make you feel better. :-))

      • John

        -40 is no fun though, because it doesn’t happen this far south any more (when was the last -40 day in the twin cities?). Let’s call it below 273K and drop the whole F/C argument all together.

        Zero is good because we love round numbers. Also – I know it is all in my head, but something changes when the temperature drops below zero F. The snow gets crisper and crunchier and the way you breathe seems to change a bit. There’s another change in the world at -40 (again, in my head probably), but it’s at least as dramatic as 0 in feel. Your eyelashes and nose hairs freeze no matter what you do. The whole world gets blindingly clear.

  • Suzanne

    I clearly went to FL way too early in the winter season. It doesn’t seem like it ever happened…