This morning was bitter cold over interior sections of the U.P. The National Weather Service (NWS) near Negaunee hit 15 below. It was 22 below in Amasa, minus 24 in Champion and 25 below zero north of Ishpeming on North Camp Road. The low at the NWS was not far off the record low for the late set 49 years ago.
Late March 1965 was unseasonably cold. In the wake of the St. Patty??s Day Storm of that year, arctic air flowed into the U.P. and the rest of the central U.S. The upper-air map of March 20, 1965 showed a classic mid-winter cold signal for the Upper Midwest (Image above). A huge ridge popped into Alaska with the northerly winds on the front-side of the ridge driving very cold air deep into the interior of the continent. This pattern hung on for roughly the next week and brought an unprecedented late-season chill to the U.P.
On March 24, 1965, the NWS got down to 20 below zero. That??s the latest 20-below reading on record at the site. Ironwood maxed out at 27 below, but that wasn??t the last one. On March 26, Gogebic Range residents shivered under 23 below-zero cold.
At the Houghton County Airport, record lows were set on seven consecutive nights starting on the 20th. These records still stand. In the southern U.P., Iron Mountain fell to zero as late as March 30, 1965.
March 1965 produced unprecedented cold that still shows up in the record books. The chill lingered into April that year only slowly moderating. The left-over cold provided the temperature contrast necessary for the infamous ??Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak?? on April11, 1965. This tornado swarm struck from the southern Great Lakes into the Ohio Valley including southeastern Michigan around Detroit.
Our present cold will hang on into mid-week before moderating. Interestingly, the coldest March at the NWS was in 1965 with a mean of 16.9 degrees. Through March 23, 2014 the mean temperature stands at only 13.5 degrees. We are almost assured of yet another winter in this anomalously cold period that started in early December. By the way, the absolute coldest March mean will stand. In March 1885, the mean temperature in Marquette (where the temperature usually runs at least a couple of degrees warmer than in Negaunee) was only 12.1 degrees!