Compare and Contrast: Views on Bitter Cold
From the Washington Post:
Cold, Hard Truth Will Hurt
Below-Freezing Temperatures Likely to Stay Several Days

By Ashley Halsey III
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 16, 2009; B03

It is bitter cold in Washington in January. And now the news: The coldest weather in more than a decade is going to continue until the full spectrum of synonyms for "bitter" is exhausted.

Listen for the words brutal, punishing, dangerous, harsh, savage, cruel and unrelenting. Every conceivable nuance of advice also will be proffered, as if cold were a newly discovered disease that can be escaped only by the agile-minded.

"The heart of the cold" will land today, according to Jason Samenow, chief meteorologist for theCapital Weather Gang on "It's about as cold as it's been here in a decade."

The temperature today won't get much above 20 degrees, and it will drop to about 10 degrees tonight, according to AccuWeather. The mercury is forecast to hang right around 33 degrees tomorrow. On, the Capital Weather Gang offers a slightly broader range.

The chill is caused by the same big dip in the jet stream that has set records for low temperatures in parts of the northland, where winter is a more serious matter.

All of the cold-weather words should be expended by the time Sunday arrives, when it is supposed to warm up to at least 37 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. But don't mistake that for a warming trend because low temperatures should remain below freezing for the balance of the week, and it might be Thursday before the high rises above 40.

Lest that relative warmth stir hopes of groundhog redemption in a couple of weeks, Samenow fears it might be "a temporary reprieve" at best.

"There are indications that it will get cold again" later next week, he said.

While unpleasant, this sort of weather is not rare in Washington in January.

"This is a notable winter cold spell, but it's not unusual to get a cold spell. We're in the coldest point of winter," Samenow said. "I wouldn't call this historic cold."

No, historic cold for this date would be 2 degrees, experienced in 1893.

But on average, the low temperature for Jan. 16 in Washington is 27 degrees. The low forecast for today is supposed to be about half that. If it seems particularly frigid, perhaps that's because the region has been blessed with milder winter weather in recent years.

The current cold weather will cause consternation about the fate of millions expected to turn out for the presidential inauguration Tuesday. It is safe to predict that they will be cold but that they will survive if they take all of the necessary precautions. The usual list of recommendations has been trundled out, but it boils down to this: Dress warmly.

The rest of the warnings that get aired during winter weather suggest the obvious: Water freezes at 32 degrees, and that's what it will do in your pipes if you're not careful. And you wouldn't put your puppy in the freezer, so don't leave him in the back yard when it's freezing out.

This is the time of year when people who work here picture their retired colleagues strolling in the warmth of the Florida and Arizona sun. In fact, a great many of them are huddled around theWeather Channel, validating their decision to bail out of Washington winters.

"I have two girlfriends who live in a retirement community near me," said Beverly Mathias, who relocated from Cape St. Claire, Md., to Fort Myers, Fla., a year ago, "and they're always talking about the weather up north at this time of year."

For those who suffer post-inaugural letdown in this cold and dreary environment, there always is hope that Punxsutawney Phil will emerge on Groundhog Day on Feb. 2 and see no shadow, thereby forecasting an early arrival of spring. The little rodent is claimed by his handlers to be 120 years old.

Samenow says that if you believe that, you'll believe anything.

"The groundhog does not possess any skill or predictability," he said. "He's a nice bit of folklore."



From Madison, WI's Capital Times:

Bitter cold will end Saturday

Bill Novak  —  1/16/2009 6:29 am

Shivering area residents only have to suffer for one more day.

The bitter cold that has gripped the upper Midwest for three days is finally moving out, with temperatures expected to get back to normal this upcoming weekend.

Schools across Wisconsin, including Madison public schools, were closed for a second straight day Friday, thanks to a wind chill warning from the National Weather Service, issued on Wednesday afternoon, that predicted wind chills in the 30-45 below zero range both Wednesday and Thursday night.

While wind chills never reached that level in the Madison area, the warning prompted school officials throughout Dane County to follow set procedure established after last year's wicked winter, and call off classes whenever a wind chill warning is issued from the National Weather Service.

A wind chill warning is issued by the weather service when wind chills are expected to be colder than -35.

As of 5 a.m. Friday, the air temperature in Madison was -15 with a calm wind.

The coldest wind chills in the state as of 5 a.m. were in Superior and La Crosse at -38, while the coldest actual temperature in the state was in Sparta at -33.

The high temperature in Madison is expected to top out at 7 degrees on Friday, said Weather Central meteorologist Kelly Curran, after the thermometer stayed south of the zero mark on Thursday with a high of -2.

Winds which had been out of the northwest since mid-week are switching to the southwest later Friday, bringing warmer air to the region.

Skies will turn cloudy later Friday with light snow developing Friday night into Saturday. Total accumulation is expected to be 1-3 inches.

Highs on Saturday and Sunday should be in the 20s, with a gradual warmup sending highs into the upper-30s to low-30s for the balance of the week.

Road conditions across Wisconsin were in pretty good shape Friday morning, with only a few slippery stretches reported.

Thursday's high temperature in Madison was -2, which was 27 degrees below normal and 56 degrees below the record high of 54 for Jan. 15 set in 1953.

The high was not close to the all-time coldest high for Jan. 15 of -13, set in 1972.

The low temperature on Thursday was -15, 24 degrees below normal and 15 degrees warmer than the record low of -30 for Jan. 15 set in 1963.

No snow was recorded at the airport on Thursday, so the monthly total stayed at 9.0 inches and the seasonal total stayed at 53.7 inches.

Last year, 0.1 inches of snow fell on Jan. 15, bringing the seasonal snowfall in the record setting winter of 2007-08 up to 40.4 inches.