How Cold is Cold?

Posted: Jan. 29, 2013

How quickly life turns.

2012 was the warmest year on record, as measured by our friends at the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory, 4.1 degrees warmer than the 1891-2010 mean. That is a significant jump. The year also ended with a new record low for average windspeed, 11.8 mph, beating the previous record – which was the previous year, 2011 – of 12.5 mph.

Yet, here we are, at the beginning of a new calendar year, throwing on every scrap of clothing we have just to walk from the front door of the house to the car. Low temperatures in the single digits have assured us that it still can get cold in New England like it used to in our grandfathers’ time.

How cold, you ask? Well, the coldest January day on record at Blue Hill was in 1957, when it never got above -16 degrees F. February? Sorry for the bad news, but the coldest February day, in 1934, was -21 F. The coldest March day, however, was -5 F, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

But it could be worse. Imagine standing at the top of New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington on January 29, 1934 when it sank to -47 F. Kind of makes our highs this week seem, well, balmy, doesn’t it? And it makes living in the lowlands of southeastern Massachusetts seem just a little more cozy.

Stay warm (from your friends at the South Shore Natural Science Center!).