The keeper of the Embarrass, Minn., thermometer retires

Rowland Fowler, the weather spotter for the National Weather Service in Embarrass, Minn. talks about his home equipment. Derek Montgomery for MPR News 2014

If not for Rowland Fowler, the people of Embarrass, Minn., might not have much of a reason to be so darned proud of their little slice of paradise.

Fowler is the guy who tells the world that no matter how cold it is in the rest of the world, it’s probably colder in Embarrass.

Rowland has decided to retire, the Ely Timberjay reports (paywall).

Several times a day, he’d check the thermometer, although he fondly recalled Jan. 20, 1996 in a 2014 interview with MPR News’ Dan Kraker. It hit 57 below in town that day, but nearby Tower, Minn., claimed the record of 60 below because Fowler’s thermometer broke.

Fowler turns 86 this year and says it’s time to turn the job over to someone younger.

And it turns out there’s a fair amount of complexity to transferring the job because the new spot has to have roughly the same temperature as the old spot if weather records are going to maintain their integrity.

But Fowler tells the Timberjay the new spot — Trapline Convenience and Liquor Store — checks out just fine.

“Our temperatures have been within a single degree of each other,” Fowler said.

Embarrass should make the news more often, he figures, because a computer is going to send the readings to the National Weather Service. Fowler used to have to phone in his readings after the 8 a.m. trudge to the thermometer, so the town didn’t make the morning news.

Tanaya and Cody Wills, who own the liquor store, will have a thermometer that won’t break at -60 (it’ll work to 100 below), and with the computer doing the reporting work, they might have more time to answer winter phone calls from the media asking why on earth anyone lives there.