It’s not your imagination — it really is colder than a witch’s popsicle out there. The reason is because like a top heavy skier who tumbled headfirst into a tree well, the Arctic Oscillation weather pattern has flipped cold air with warm, and those poor Inuit sled dogs are panting like it’s South Beach while Philly’s cheese steaks are frozen solid like Steak-umms.
This map from NASA shows just how out of whack things are compared to what we know as normal. Perhaps this is the new normal. Or perhaps it’s the new gnarmal. In any event, it’s cold, except where it’s warm.
The map is based on NASA readings January 9 to 16, 2011, and compared to the years 2003-2010. As NASA nerds explain, “Because this image shows temperature anomalies rather than absolute temperatures, red or orange areas are not necessarily warmer than blue areas. The reds and blues indicate local temperatures that are warmer or colder than the norm for that particular area. The overall configuration of warmer-than-normal temperatures in the north and cooler-than-normal temperatures in the south probably results from a climate pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation (AO).”
Thanks for that, Dexter.
So, what are the coldest spots based on typical weather patterns? The Christian (“Not Dead Yet”) Science Monitor did the digging and found…
5. International Falls, Minnesota
Where it was 46 degrees below 0 Fahrenheit a few days ago.
4. Oymyakon, Sakha Republic, Russia
Which is the coldest permanently inhabited place on earth, with a measured minus 90 in 1933.
3. Vostok Station, Antarctica
Duh. Minus 126, how’s that for nippy?
2. The Atmosphere
Where it gets to minus 146
1. Some lab somewhere
In 1999, researchers in Helsinki cooled portions of a piece of rhodium metal to 100 picokelvins, just one tenth of one billionth of a degree above absolute zero, minus 459.67 degrees. The researchers then presumably dared each other to lick it.
Okay, let me just say that calling the atmosphere and a laboratory experiment “places” is a bit disingenuous. That kind of labeling might explain why the Christian Science Monitor no longer prints its editions but clings to life online. However, they did us the service of reporting this piece, without which we probably wouldn’t know that International Falls paid Fraser, Colorado, to stop fighting over the title of coldest place in the United States, registered it as a federal trademark, forgot to renew the trademark when it expired, and then fought Fraser in the courts for another 12 years. For this kind of insight, we should be grateful.