Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:08 PM GMT on March 18, 2012
Each year, when the list of coldest U.S. cities is compiled, International Falls, Minnesota regularly winds up at the top of the list, earning its title as "Icebox of the Nation". The city once hit -55°F (on January 6, 1909), and takes pride in the distinction of being the coldest city in the U.S., having trademarked the term "Icebox of the Nation" in 1948. The city recently defended the trademark against the town of Fraser, Colorado, which sought to usurp the title as the Nation's Icebox. But yesterday, International Falls set a truly phenomenal weather record for warmth. The city's temperature soared to 77°F, which was 42° above the average high temperature for the date. Not only was it the city's hottest March temperature on record by 4°, it was just 4° shy of yesterday's high in Miami, Florida. But what was truly amazing is that the 77°F high in International Falls beat the previous record for the date by 22°! I talked to Christopher C. Burt, wunderground's weather historian, and he couldn't recall seeing a station with a century-plus period of weather records break a daily record by such a wide margin (International Falls' records go back to 1895.) Yesterday's temperatures in International Falls were but one chapter in the on-going story of one of the most extreme meteorological events in U.S. history. Never before has such an extended period of extreme and record-breaking warm temperatures affected such a large portion of the U.S. in March, going back to the beginning of record keeping in the late 1800s. The record-breaking warmth will continue through Thursday, and I'll have much more to say in Monday's post.
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