The day Punxsutawney Phil froze

Today (Feb. 2, 2021) marks the 25th anniversary of the coldest day in Minnesota recorded history

Looking ahead to this coming weekend, and next week, it looks like we’re in for a good old-fashioned cold snap. And speaking frankly, I guess we were due for one. From my perspective, we’ve gotten off easy so far this winter. January was balmy, and I only recall a few days below zero in December. Aside from the rude awakening of heavy snow in October, this winter has been lying in wait. And this weekend it looks as if it’s gonna come to life.

Our local forecast predicts a low of -23 degrees on Sunday, with only slightly warmer lows on Monday and Tuesday. It’s gonna be rough, but it’s nowhere near the Polar Vortex we all experienced at the end of January in 2019.

On January 31, 2019, our low temperature at the farm was -40 degrees, the coldest temperature I’ve ever been in during my life. It was eerie outside feeding tending to the animals and doing chores. There was no wind. Just frigid cold and stillness. Breath rose from the cows noses like smoke from freshly discharged dragons. We all moved slowly and conserved our energy that day.

Interestingly, that low of-40 degrees F was notable in it’s own right. Apparently, -40F and -40C are the same, and it is the only point at which these two scales of measurement intersect.

It was cold that day two years ago, but still a far cry from the Minnesota state record.

On this day (Feb. 2) in 1996, Tower, Minnesota recorded the lowest temperature in Minnesota recorded history: 60 degrees below zero. The entire state was freezing cold. The high in Rochester was a balmy -20 degrees F, and our local newspaper said that the Mille Lacs area dipped to roughly -50 degrees F as a low.
Scientifically speaking, it was a darn cold week.

And for whatever reason, I’ve been thinking about this 25 year anniversary for the last couple weeks, maybe wondering if we were going to exit this winter unscathed. Apparently not.

Given my fixation with today’s notability, I guess it’s only appropriate that this morning I read that Punxsutawney Phil just predicted 6 more weeks of winter when he crawled out of his burrow. Thanks Phil, but I’ll never understand why they put a Pennsylvanian groundhog in charge of such a prediction… Seems like it should have been a Minnesotan gopher.

In closing, if you’re brave enough to venture out of the house this coming week, bundle up and be safe. It’ll be cold, but we can warm ourselves by the fact that its not nearly as cold as it was on this day a generation ago.

Thanks for reading,

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