The winter of 1993-94 featured the bitterest, most brutal cold in recent memory and the harshest arctic blast arrived in the U.P. on January 18, 1994.
Larry Wanic, long-time weather watcher in Bark River west of Escanaba, observed a high temperature of 11 degrees below zero. That TMs the second coldest day I ever had, says Wanic.
In north-central Upper Michigan, the National Weather Service (NWS) recorded a blistering cold high of 15 below; the coldest high temperature in 117 years of record-keeping. The day came in an astounding 32 degrees below average. To compound the misery, brisk west-to-northwesterly winds accompanied the cold, dropping wind chills out of sight . As the wind calmed down a little, some remarkable low temperatures occurred. It fell to 27 below in Bark River and 31 below in Spaulding and Ironwood. In Caspian, near Iron River, the temperature fell to minus 35 for the second time during this bitter stretch. An observer in Amasa had an alcohol thermometer drop to 53 degrees below zero early on the morning of the 19th. January 1994 ended with a mean temperature of 2.8 degrees"over 9 degrees below the long-term average. The month featured 19 days with temperatures below zero"perfect ice making weather.
Around December 21, 1993, Lake Superior was ice-free; by February 9, satellite pictures showed the lake had completely frozen over for the first time since 1979.As the brutal cold persisted, water pipes began to freeze and crack in communities throughout the U.P. The period of intense cold lasted from the end of December through a good share of February. While frozen pipes plagued a number of Upper Michigan residents well into spring, the cold left early. March started lamb-like and continued mild with the majority of days above freezing. The winter of 1993-94 will be remembered for its unrelenting intensity, though the bitter cold was confined to a roughly 50 day period.