A week-long brutally cold stretch of weather was well underway on January 31, 1996. The arctic blast followed an exceptionally stormy time across the U.P. that began in mid-January. The official high on the last day of January reached only zero. The low was a record 27 below at the National Weather Service (NWS) site near Negaunee. Temperatures the first two days of February failed to reach zero. On the 2nd, the high struggled to 13 belowâ??one of the coldest maximum temperatures on record.
The pattern that produced this cold blast is a familiar one. A segment of the polar vortexâ??containing some of the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphereâ??dropped far south in early February to a position between Lake Superior and Hudson Bay (Image above). This is an almost carbon-copy of the pattern that produced our brutally cold snaps this year. (Itâ??s hilarious how some climate alarmists try to claim this is something unprecedented and therefore caused by humans. I heard one explanation that asserted that the polar vortex dropped south because the difference in temperature between the polar and mid-latitudes was growing smaller. This therefore leads to lighter winds which gives the opportunity for the vortex to drop farther south. This â??scientistâ?? then went on to warn that more intense cold is likely because of â??climate changeâ?? (aka Global Warming). Yeah, right!)
Back to â??96, lows hit 20 below or colder five straight nights including two consecutive lows of 31 below on February 3-4. A number of communities across the U.P. fell to the 30 to 35 below zero range on multiple nights during this stretch. An observer from the perennial cold spot, Amasa, called in with 50-below zero lows on February 3-4.
February 1996 ended only 2.1 degrees below average, however. After the cold start, temperatures warmed to much above normal readings the second week of the month.January 2014 will end, like December 2013, well below average. The estimated mean temperature of 5.8 degrees is the coldest January since 1994.