TOP World Headquarters here in Waukesha, Wisconsin hit –18°F last night. This cold spell is unusual for us; it's a record in my experience here. I moved here in 2000.
I went out in it for a while in my shirtsleeves, just to experience what it was like. It's not that uncomfortable for (very) short stretches, but it was wondrous to contemplate that the air itself could kill me in an hour if I had to stay out in it unprotected. In those few short minutes I could feel the warmth leaving my body and the cold beginning to invade.
At that moment, as I stood there under the night sky, it was colder on my back porch than it was at the South Pole—my house thermometer read –17°F and the temperature at that very hour was –7°F at Amundsen-Scott Station in Antarctica.
For us, a memorable phenomenon of nature.
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adamct: "Now, it's not nearly as cold here in Connecticut as it is in TOP World Headquarters or many other places in the U.S. and Canada right now, but the temperature is around seven degrees fahrenheit. As this is likely to be the coldest day of the year here, Murphy's Law dictates that of course this would be the day that all of the windows in my house are being replaced. Oh well, I suppose the house needed a good airing out anyway....
"And to top it all off, the steps leading up to our front door—the door the workmen were to carry the new windows through—had about two inches of ice on them. I spent several hours this morning chipping at the ice, then salting, then chipping, then salting, then...well, you get the idea. I'm going to sell prospecting rights to those steps. I am convinced the ice contains hardness-maximizing diamond particles, and quite a lot of them, judging by the ice's ability to withstand hundreds of blows from a hardened steel ice chipper being wielded by a 240 lb., 6'2" man, even if something less than 100% of that 240 lbs. is made up of exercise-hardened muscle...."
Eric Brody: "To be fair, Mike, it's summer in Antarctica and winter in Wisconsin."
Mike replies: But also to be fair, it's almost never colder here than it is there, winter or summer. January is the warmest month there, and the average high temperature is –14.6°F. The all-time record high for January is +7°F.
Here's a question for a better researcher than I: before this week, has it ever been colder in southeastern Wisconsin than at the South Pole at the same moment, since records have been kept? If you can find instances, I'll bet you can't find many.
Jordan: "There was a point last week when the daytime high temperature recorded in Winnipeg, Manitoba, was lower than the daytime high temperature recorded by the NASA Curiosity Rover on the surface of Mars. At least it's a dry cold!"