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Submitted by Tim Buckley on Mon, 12/13/2010 - 10:23am.
Over the next several days, we will spend a lot of time talking about just how cold it is here (and with good reason), but sometimes is does some good to look elsewhere at how much worse it could be. Today, that place is Minnesota. Now to say, "Minnesota has cold winters" is like saying the sun is yellow, the grass is green, the sky is blue, or chocolate chip cookies are delicious - it's nothing earth shattering. But I think sometimes we forget just how cold it can get in the great white north.
Read 'em and weep. These are the low temperatures on this Monday morning across the "Land of 10,000 lakes." As you can see, many of those lakes are frozen now. Temperatures were sub-zero throughout the entire state, but it's International Falls that takes the cake. Morning lows were not 5 below, not 10 below, not even 20 below -- but 30 below. That's on the thermometer folks.
Other places in the northern tier of the US can get cold, but it's temperatures like these which give International Falls the nickname, "Icebox of America." As you can see above, International Falls blows other cold weather cities out of the water when it comes to extreme low temperatures. Being extremely far north allows for "easy access" to Arctic air masses. But it's much more than just latitude. If that were the case, Seattle would have similar temperatures. Being far away from any bodies of water is key. This allows the air masses to stay extremely cold without being 'modified' warmer water temperatures.
One of the questions you may have looking at these temperatures is "How do people live like that?" The easy answer is - they just do. Like any area of the country, they've developed ways to cope with their extreme weather. In fact, the city of Minneapolis (which is a bustling metropolis of 3.5 million people) has developed an intensive system of above ground "skyways" that stretch for miles throughout the city. You can see on the map above of the downtown area that you can use the Skyways (indicated in orange) to get pretty much anywhere.
I visited Minneapolis for a Penn State football game back in October and at first couldn't realize why there were so many sky bridges throughout the downtown area. Now, it makes perfect sense. What better way to get around a big city during sub-zero weather than walking through climate controlled overpasses. Not only do you avoid the cold, you also avoid the traffic of the streets and crosswalks below. "Brilliant!"
When you think of it, Minnesotans using a tunnel system isn't that different than us using Hurricane Shutters on beach front homes. Just another way to adapt to the cards Mother Nature dealt you.
But for now we can be happy we're not there!
By: Tim Buckley