International Falls/Embarrass/Tower, Minnesota Battle for Coldest in Lower 48

International Falls/Embarrass/Tower, Minnesota Battle for Coldest in Lower 48

roger
roger

January 10th, 2004, 3:26 am #1

WHAT would Margaret Mead make of a tribe of 6,703 people that each winter celebrates its land as the coldest spot in the contiguous United States with an outdoor festival that features such rituals as "Turkey Bowling," in which frozen poultry takes the place of bowling balls, and a "Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run," billed as the coldest 10-kilometer race in the United States? (In 1987, that race was run in temperatures that plummeted to minus 28 Fahrenheit.)
But that's what things are like in International Falls, Minn., which hangs like a stalactite from the Canadian border, and for which "Ice Box Days XXIV" (to be held next Thursday through Sunday and not to be confused with Super Bowl XXXVIII) is a celebration of its idiosyncratic fame. Not for nothing, in fact, did the town fathers trademark the term "Icebox of the Nation" in the 1950's, thereby embracing its status as the punch line of weathermen from Maine to Maui, who each day let their viewers know there is always someone else in the country worse off than them.
Not so fast, says Roland Fowler, a 64-year-old former Army mule skinner, or driver, who lives 120 miles away in Embarrass, Minn., a hamlet with 640 people, just one gas station and no visitor accommodations. "There's no way International Falls can keep up with us," he said earlier this week, when the thermometer outside his farmhouse recorded a low of minus 25 and a high of minus 14. "Even in July we've had garden-killing frosts."
For two decades, Mr. Fowler has argued that International Falls has been dining out on its status as America's "Ice Station Zebra" for too long. Way too long. On Feb. 8, 1982, Embarrass hit 52 below on an unofficial thermometer that shattered while the mercury was still headed south. But it wasn't until eight years ago that Embarrass, honoring trademark laws, started billing itself with a less poetic, but more straightforward slogan: "The Nation's Cold Spot."
Here, for the record, are the facts: The official average low in December, January and February in International Falls is minus 3.4 degrees, while Embarrass measures minus 6.3. And the year-round temperature in Embarrass averages out at 34.4, a full degree colder than anyplace else in Minnesota. (Wednesday, as a cold front moved across the country, International Falls recorded a low temperature of 15 below and Embarrass one of 24 below.)
Meanwhile, a lot of people in International Falls don't seem all that interested in keeping the competition going. In 2002, workmen dismantled the giant thermometer in Smokey Bear Park, the one that in 1968 recorded a temperature of minus 46 degrees and was long a fixture on the thousands of postcards sold to tourists passing by on their way in and out of Canada. It had recently broken, and no one seemed willing to cough up the $30,000 it would have cost to fix it. "The idea just didn't come up in city council meetings," Mayor Swendsen said.
Then, of course, there is this sobering thought: Perhaps Embarrass and International Falls may both be wrong about Minnesota's coldest place. "I hate to tell them, but it might be colder in Tower," said Dan Markee, another weather specialist at the National Weather Service in Duluth. "The same night it hit 57 below in Embarrass, it was minus 60 in Tower. They just haven't made a big deal out of it."


http://www.nytimes.com/2004/01/09/trave ... 9COLD.html

International Falls

Embarrass

Tower



For the record Tower is about 100 miles west of Grand Marais.

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WingLady
WingLady

January 10th, 2004, 4:21 am #2

According to an article several years ago in USA Today:

USA's coldest spots
The coldest temperature ever recorded east of the Mississippi River1 was -54 degrees Fahrenheit in Danbury, Wis., on January 24, 1922. That's cold. But it's over 25 degrees warmer than the USA's all-time coldest reading. The lowest temperature on record in the United States, -79.8 degrees - rounded off to minus 80 degrees - was observed at Prospect Creek Camp in the Endicott Mountains of northern Alaska on Jan. 23, 1971. The lowest ever recorded in the conterminous 48 States, -69.7 degrees - rounded off to minus 70 degrees - was observed at Rogers Pass, in Lewis and Clark County, Mont., on Jan. 20, 1954.

http://www.usatoday.com/weather/wcstates.htm

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Scott Patterson
Scott Patterson

January 10th, 2004, 7:04 pm #3

Officially, the -54 record low east of the Mississippi was broken in Feb 1996 and -55 at Courderay, but WindLady is still correct.

Severals states have recorded temps lower than -60 (MN's record low)

1. -80 AK
2. -70 MT
3. -69 UT
4. -66 WY
5. -61 CO

There are well over 100 towns in the Rockies that are colder than International Falls. Coldest annually is Fraser Colorado with an annual temp of 32.5F, far colder than International Falls or anywhere else in MN. The coldest winter average low belongs to Taylor Park, Colorado with an average low of -10.2 in winter, far colder than anywhere in MN.

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Scott Patterson
Scott Patterson

January 10th, 2004, 7:25 pm #4

According to an article several years ago in USA Today:

USA's coldest spots
The coldest temperature ever recorded east of the Mississippi River1 was -54 degrees Fahrenheit in Danbury, Wis., on January 24, 1922. That's cold. But it's over 25 degrees warmer than the USA's all-time coldest reading. The lowest temperature on record in the United States, -79.8 degrees - rounded off to minus 80 degrees - was observed at Prospect Creek Camp in the Endicott Mountains of northern Alaska on Jan. 23, 1971. The lowest ever recorded in the conterminous 48 States, -69.7 degrees - rounded off to minus 70 degrees - was observed at Rogers Pass, in Lewis and Clark County, Mont., on Jan. 20, 1954.

http://www.usatoday.com/weather/wcstates.htm
From another group thread:

International Falls is a false claim to ICebox of the Nation(as well an anywhere else in Minnesota). International Falls is refered to here as the "posers icebox of the nation". Fraser is far colder. Even after the Fraser station was moved to a warmer location, it is still consistanty colder. Here's the annual temps for each location mentioned:

International Falls: 36.4F, Fraser: 32.5F/34.6F at station 2 (see article).

Fraser drops below 0 an average of 79 times annually; International Falls 63. But, International Falls is only cold for a few months. In an average year, International Falls will fall below freezing for 109 days. Fraser falls below freezing on an incredible 317 days!

Even more impressive are the average lows for each month The first figure is for International Falls, and the second Fraser. Notice that in one month out of eleven, International Falls has colder temps than Fraser, but only one month.

JAN International Falls: -8, Fraser: -5
FEB -1/-2
MAR 12/4
APR 27/16
MAY 40/24
JUN 49/29
JUL 54/34
AUG 51/33
SEP 42/25
OCT 32/17
NOV 16/6
DEC -1/-4

Record lows: Fraser also far colder redords
for most of the year than International Falls. Also notice that while International Falls has dropped below 0 six months of the year, Fraser has done it in nine. Also July has never froze in International Falls. Fraser has an average frost free period of 4
days, and drops into the teens in every month. Colder in winter than both locations is Taylor Park, Colorado, but Fraser has the longest prolonged cold.

JAN International Falls: -46, Fraser: -53
FEB -45/-49
MAR -38/-39
APR -14/-30
MAY 11/-1
JUN 23/12
JUL 34/18
AUG 30/20
SEP 20/-2
OCT 2/-18
NOV -32/-37
DEC -41/-50

So if your ever in International Falls an they claim to be the Icebox of the Nation, inform them that there are over 100 locations that have reporting weather stations in the Rockies (and even a few in California and one in New Hampshire) that have lower annual
tempuratures (and that's not mentioning Alaska). Let them know that they may be the Icebox of Minnesota or the Midwest, but not the nation, in fact they're not even close.

Here's an interesting article. There were no temperatures officially reported in Fraser between 1975 and 1988, and after 1989 the station was moved to a warmer location in 1989, but it's still colder than
International Falls.

Who's The Coldest Of Them All
Published February 27, 1987 in the Denver Post.
Copyright © 1987 by Ed Quillen. All rights reserved.

----------------------------------------------------------------------
----------

When I was growing up outside of Greeley and going on Sunday drives with my parents, I was bitterly disappointed at three destinations.

To my childhood dismay, Estes Park wasn't a big park with ferris wheels and roller coasters, but just some town up in the mountains. Pueblo was a series of smokestacks instead of an enchanting adobe fortress. Fraser, famous as President Eisenhower's vacation hideaway, presented little more than a sawmill and a few ramshackle buildings; I had expected much more from such a well-known place.

It wasn't just the presidential presence that made me expect so much. Fraser was then the undisputed "Icebox of the Nation." There were competitors like Big Piney, Wyo., but most mornings, the radio weather would conclude with the announcement that "Fraser, Colorado,
again had the coldest temperature in the nation at eight degrees below zero."

And that would be in May. Fraser's average annual frost-free growing season is four days long, so even its summers are chilly. Its annual mean temperature is 33.8 degrees, just above freezing. I never realized just how cold Fraser is until I spent four winters in
another Grand County town, Kremmling.

Winters in Kremmling seemed sufficiently brutal -- long nights dipping to 30 below, and the high on some January days was all of 10 below. Even so, folks in Fraser considered Kremmling the "banana belt" of Middle Park, because Fraser was always a few degrees colder.

When pressed, though, old-timers would concede that Fraser wasn't truly the coldest spot around. That was Tabernash, four miles down the river, where gelid air settled at the inlet of a canyon. A helper station in the days of steam locomotives, Tabernash was where huge
articulated mallets froze to the tracks. Local lore had it that Tabernash was always at least five degrees below Fraser.

But Fraser, not Tabernash, had the official weather station and thus the fame. Fraser was proud of its frigid reputation, which brought some money into town as Goodyear and Xerex, among others, filmed commercials there.

It was sometime in the early 1970s that various metropolitan promoters decided that Fraser was giving Colorado a bad name. On an April day, Denver might be enjoying T-shirt weather, but all that the rest of the world knew about Colorado was the subzero reading in
Fraser. Such reports might discourage outsiders from moving here and augmenting Front Range congestion and pollution, and that would never do.

In the interest of encouraging Front Range development, Fraser's temperatures were censored. Then Fraser lost its official weather station. Other towns began to boast of being the "Icebox of the Nation."

One was International Falls, Minn. However, day in and day out, Fraser's temperature is lower. Even boastful International Falls conceded when Fraser issued a challenge last December.

Just this week, it was announced that Gunnison, Colorado deserves that distinction, since it most often had the lowest low in the United States.

Gunnson is indeed cold. Allen Best, a friend who then lived in Fraser, went cross-country skiing with me in the Gunnison Country two years ago. He acquired five blackened, peeling toes on our tour, and suggested a slogan: "Gunnison -- where people from Fraser go to catch frostbite."

Fraser hasn't given up, though. The "Icebox of the Nation" sign was still there when I passed through last December, although much else has changed. The hillsides are full of housing, and there's a big new
shopping center. It's the only mountain town I've seen lately where more businesses are opening than closing.

Fraser's mayor, C.B. Jensen, is himself a real-estate developer and builder. You might think that he'd be against promoting Fraser's gelid climate; such publicity could hurt his business. But instead,
he's excited. Fraser just got its official weather station back, and he figures on beating Gunnison next year.

The more publicity about Fraser's cold weather, the more the town appears to prosper. Perhaps there is something to the saying that "Honesty is the best policy."



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WingLady
WingLady

January 10th, 2004, 8:04 pm #5

I've been to both places many times, and all I can say about them both is: brrrrr!

Charlie likes to relate a story about a time he was driving home after skiing, and passed through Montrose and Gunnison -- about 65 miles apart. Montrose was pleasantly cool -- perhaps a bit above freezing. By the time he reached Gunnison, he had the heater cranked up to full blast, and was putting extra articles of clothing between himself and the car door.

One last note: I agree that when he "was growing up", writer Ed Quillen probably did observe that Pueblo was just a bunch of smokestacks. In defence of the town we've adopted as our home, the smokestacks are still there, but barely used, and the town really is charming (you just have to get off the interstate to see the "real Pueblo").

And it's a lot warmer in Pueblo than in Denver.
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Joined: November 25th, 2000, 10:31 pm

January 12th, 2004, 2:25 am #6

According to an article several years ago in USA Today:

USA's coldest spots
The coldest temperature ever recorded east of the Mississippi River1 was -54 degrees Fahrenheit in Danbury, Wis., on January 24, 1922. That's cold. But it's over 25 degrees warmer than the USA's all-time coldest reading. The lowest temperature on record in the United States, -79.8 degrees - rounded off to minus 80 degrees - was observed at Prospect Creek Camp in the Endicott Mountains of northern Alaska on Jan. 23, 1971. The lowest ever recorded in the conterminous 48 States, -69.7 degrees - rounded off to minus 70 degrees - was observed at Rogers Pass, in Lewis and Clark County, Mont., on Jan. 20, 1954.

http://www.usatoday.com/weather/wcstates.htm
Stanley, Idaho, W. Yellowstone, Montana & even Bodie State Park, Calif. also often show up as coldest in the Lower 48. Today it was St. Johnsbury, Vt., former home of St. Johnsbury motor carriers, whose rigs were a familiar sight on N. New England highways. We got 30 below 0 one morning at St. Paul's School, just out of Concord, N.H. in the 50s, but I don't know if it was a record, or lowest in the state or the 48.

Roger Williams, SPS '59.
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Scott Patterson
Scott Patterson

January 12th, 2004, 5:25 am #7

The record low in Concord was -37 in Feb 1943. The record lows for the other winter months in Concord are -33 in Jan 1984 and -22 in Dec 1951. Were you there during any of these years?

Record low for Vermont was -50 at Bloomfield Dec 30,1933. Vermont is second to New York (-52)in the New England area as having the New England States with the coldest record low.
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Surgent
Surgent

January 12th, 2004, 3:15 pm #8

Stanley, Idaho, W. Yellowstone, Montana & even Bodie State Park, Calif. also often show up as coldest in the Lower 48. Today it was St. Johnsbury, Vt., former home of St. Johnsbury motor carriers, whose rigs were a familiar sight on N. New England highways. We got 30 below 0 one morning at St. Paul's School, just out of Concord, N.H. in the 50s, but I don't know if it was a record, or lowest in the state or the 48.

Roger Williams, SPS '59.
Stanley, Idaho, W. Yellowstone, Montana & even Bodie State Park, Calif. also often show up as coldest in the Lower 48.


It's not uncommon in the summer for the national high and low temperatures to be close by, as Death Valley often gets the highest temperature and Bodie the lowest.
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Joined: November 25th, 2000, 10:31 pm

January 13th, 2004, 1:14 am #9

The record low in Concord was -37 in Feb 1943. The record lows for the other winter months in Concord are -33 in Jan 1984 and -22 in Dec 1951. Were you there during any of these years?

Record low for Vermont was -50 at Bloomfield Dec 30,1933. Vermont is second to New York (-52)in the New England area as having the New England States with the coldest record low.
The Yahoo address I have for Scott Patterson was no good. Here is a copy of my reply (few things, except spam, are more annoying than dud Internet addresses):
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Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 10:48:04 -0700
To: Scott Patterson <nobody@network54.com>
From: Roger Williams <rogerac@ix.netcom.com>
Subject: Re: Network54 Auto Response: re: Concord and Vermont
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At 09:25 PM 1/11/04 -0800, you wrote:

This is an automatic email response to a message you posted at Network54.

In response to your message titled "Other Western Cold Spots"
At: http://network54.com/Forum/message?mess ... rumid=3897

Scott Patterson has replied (with title "re: Concord and Vermont"):

The record low in Concord was -37 in Feb 1943. The record lows for the other
winter months in Concord are -33 in Jan 1984 and -22 in Dec 1951. Were
you there during any of these years?

I was at SPS (Concord, 03301-2591, www.sps.edu) 54-59, 2d-6th forms. Don't
recall which year this low occurred; it hit 20 below 0 several times a winter.
Winters at the School have supposedly gotten much milder in recent years, with
no more hockey or skating on the School pond. We used to have something like 9
rinks set up on it on 3' of ice, with a shaver pulled by horses or a tractor.
Zambonis hadn't been invented yet. The tractor did break through once, after my
time; the School, "the cradle of American hockey", now plays hockey on indoor
artificial rinks.
Roger Williams, Boulder, 80303-2340, SPS '59.
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Scott Patterson
Scott Patterson

January 13th, 2004, 5:45 pm #10

The record low in Concord was -37 in Feb 1943. The record lows for the other winter months in Concord are -33 in Jan 1984 and -22 in Dec 1951. Were you there during any of these years?

Record low for Vermont was -50 at Bloomfield Dec 30,1933. Vermont is second to New York (-52)in the New England area as having the New England States with the coldest record low.
kesscokim@yahoo.com
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