On February 27, 1994, the temperature at the National Weather Service (NWS) near Negaunee dipped to a record low of 15 degrees below zero. This reading is significant because it was the last double-digit below zero reading of that long, cold winter. It was the 42nd below zero low of the winter--a winter that started mild and then turned bitterly cold just before Christmas and essentially stayed that way through mid-February.
January 1994 ended over 9 degrees below the long-term average, while a warm spell in mid-February off set an extremely cold start. The NWS site saw the second month come in at 6.3 degrees below average. March 1994 brought milder days. The month ended nearly 4 degrees above average. The cold winter of 1993-94 had just one more below zero reading left in March. On St. Patrick's Day, a ridge of high pressure passed overhead bringing light winds, clear skies and a 3 below zero low temperature early in the morning.
Tonight, a ridge of high pressure passing overhead will provide clear skies and light winds, at least for the balance of the night. That means the record set 20 years ago will probably fall before midnight. The record-low high temperature of 12 above set in 1980 was crushed today. As of this writing, the official NWS high was not posted. However, it got no higher than zero or maybe 1 above; that was at midnight when the brutally cold air was beginning to filter in. During the day, temperatures stayed below zero.
A number of Upper Michigan communities will see records shattered the next 24 hours. In Iron Mountain, the record-low high temperature today was also 12 above set way back in 1919. That record fell as Iron Mountain was no warmer than 5 above at the start of this calendar day. The record low temperature for the day is 20 below zero set in 1935. Surpassing this cold mark is possible before midnight. Tomorrow??s record low will easily be eclipsed; it??s just 14 below reached in 1970. In Ironwood, the record-low high temperature for the 27th of 5 above was smashed. The temperature at midnight was at least down to zero and readings stayed well below zero all day. The record low temperatures for today and tomorrow are -20 and 24 below respectively. Those records could be broken, but it will take clear skies to top the 24 below set, by the way, just five years ago in ??09.
Comparing 1994 to this winter is like the analogy of comparing apples to oranges. The winter of 93-94 got off slowly, turned extreme and stayed that way into mid-February. Then the pattern moderated and winter, at least the extreme version, left. This season got off to a quick start, was not near as extreme, but hung on. It still appears it will linger with well below average temperatures at least into the second week of March.