Winter of 2013-14 now officially coldest on record

MARQUETTE – There’s no doubt about it. It’s cold outside.

And to make it officially the coldest winter in recent history, the National Weather Service station in Negaunee announced today a more than 35-year-old record of the most consecutive days with a high temperature below freezing was broken Sunday.

The record, set back in February 1979, was 72 days. Sunday marked day 73 for this winter season in a streak that began Dec. 6.

But don’t worry. The end is near.

“It’s going to be close, but we could even do it as early as Tuesday,” NWS meteorologist Todd Kluber said. “But the best chance right now looks to be on Wednesday, forecasting a high of 34, 35 degrees. Not much above freezing but at least a chance that we could get there. We haven’t had many chances to even come close to that.”

It’s been a record-setting season this winter, with no less than nine different low and high temperature records broken or tied since November.

On Jan. 7, the high temperature was minus 4 degrees, undercutting the previous record of zero degrees set in 1968. And it only got colder from there. On Jan. 28, a record high of minus 6 degrees was set, shattering the high of zero set in 1986.

It was also the coldest high temperature recorded since Feb. 4, 2007, and ties for the 10th coldest high temperature on record.

On Feb. 11, the weather service recorded a low temperature of minus 23 degrees, breaking the previous record of minus 20 set in 1980. It was also the lowest recorded temperature since Christmas Day in 2004, when the thermometer dipped to minus 24 degrees.

Weather records at the Negaunee facility date back to 1961.

The weather has played a major role in people’s lives this winter, with water main breaks so common many area municipalities have issued let-run advisories to help ease the work load.

Gov. Rick Snyder issued a state of emergency in late December over a propane shortage and recently extended it to help people find the fuel they need to heat their homes.

And according to an analysis by NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, ice covered 88.4 percent of the Great Lakes Sunday. Not since early 1994 has ice been so widespread on the Great Lakes.

Roughly 95 percent of Lake Superior is ice covered, making spectacular ice caves in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore available to those willing to make the more than 1 mile trek across the ice.

It’s the first time they’ve been accessible in the winter in five years and thousands of people have taken advantage of the rare opportunity.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.