Dang! Now that’s cold!

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18 December 2013
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Musings
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Last weekend I entered a cross-country run on Whidbey Island. It was a refreshing 23 degrees out and I stripped down to run in my shorts.

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Berlin’s historic Russian Orthodox Church. Russian immigrants had no trouble acclimating to Berlin’s long and cold winters!

Just like I had been doing all week during our Northwest freeze. And per usual many a passerby, runner and non runner alike inevitably asks me, “aren’t you cold?!” Now if I was-wouldn’t you think I would have tights on? As long as I am running I’m fine. It’s when I stop I get cold. But I continue to get looks of disbelief as I do every time the thermometer drops below 40 F out here and I am out running around with my legs exposed.

I usually tell people that because of my  New Hampshire upbringing  I have a high tolerance to the cold. And I do! But if you ever needed the proof to my claim that it’s my upbringing’s fault that I can prance around half naked-I found it!  This morning as I read my morning newspaper I glanced down at the weather chart and once again saw that the coldest spot in the lower 48 was good ole Berlin, NH at-27 F. Berlin seems to claim the cold spot of the country quite a bit. Located in a valley in the northern reaches of the state and surrounded by the White Mountains, this old mill town of 10,000 deals with inversions on a regular basis. I lived in Berlin for 4 years where I studied forestry and made ends meet by cutting wood, working as a lift rat at the Wildcat Mountain Ski Area and a backcountry ranger at the White Mountain National Forest. Berlin is indeed a place you don’t want to live in if you crave warm weather. My first year there was particularly cold with snow on the ground into May.

But just how cold is Berlin? Well according to this source (Guy King. 2007. The Hottest and Coldest Places in the Conterminous United States. Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers. 69: 101-114.),

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Enjoying a nice January run in Temple, New Hampshire. I love the snow! I love the cold! I love the sun!

it is in the top 10 consistently cold places in America. From 1995 to 2005 Berlin claimed the coldest spot in the Lower Forty-eight a total of 92 times making it number 8 overall!  So-you see I am not making this up that I have been acclimated to cold weather! What’s a little 23 degrees compared to -27 degrees below? Besides it’s not Mount Washington just south of Berlin and 5,000 feet higher where some of the coldest temperatures in the country have been recorded exceeding -50F. So bring on the 20 and 30 degree weather here in Western Washington. Besides, when it is usually this cold-it is sunny-and that beats the rain any day!

And if you are interested in avoiding the coldest spots in the country here they are:

Most Days with Coldest Temperature

On any single day, the mountain town of Stanley, Idaho is most often the coldest place in the states outside of Alaska. Stanley is nestled in the midst of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area at 6,260 feet (1,908 metres) elevation.

Top ten spots for the most days from 1995 to 2005 with the lowest temperature in the contiguous US
Location Days
Stanley, Idaho 398
West Yellowstone, Montana 337
Gunnison, Colorado 170
Truckee, California 161
Alamosa, Colorado 142
Saranac Lake, New York 128
Jackson, Wyoming 109
Berlin, New Hampshire   92
Fraser, Colorado   91
Wisdom, Montana   91
References

Guy King. 2007. The Hottest and Coldest Places in the Conterminous United States. Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers. 69: 101-114.

NOAA National Climatic Data Center

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