After decades of denial by certain elements of society at large and the private sector in particular, the debate over whether or not global warming is occurring and, if so, whether human activity is to blame has become more specific. The question now is what to do about more frequent flood disasters, wildfires, and record-shattering heat waves in a world that’s heavily reliant on spewing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere in return for economic growth and financial property. (Here are some natural landmarks already damaged or destroyed by climate change.)
It’s important to remember, though, that global warming doesn’t mean an end to cold weather For example, Oklahoma suffered one of its worst winter storms on record in 2011, when ice storms toppled trees and electrical lines, dropping up to 21 inches of snow in a state where winters are often relatively mild and short, and sending the mercury plummeting to -31º F.
To identify the coldest day in history in every state, 247 Wall St. reviewed the latest state records compiled by the State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC), a panel responsible for monitoring observations that may exceed all-time records for National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). (For comparison, see the hottest day on record in every state.)
Along with Oklahoma, two other states – Illinois and Maine – hold cold-snap records for the 21st century, their temperatures falling to -38º F and -50º F, respectively.
Some states still have cold records dating back more than a century. The winter of 1899, for example, inflicted record-low temperatures that still stand today in Ohio, Louisiana, and Florida. The years that hold the largest number of standing lowest-temp records are 1933 and 1985, each with four states.
Click here to see the coldest day every recorded in every state.
Predictably, most low-temperature records have been set in the dead of winter, mostly between early January and mid-February. However, Hawaii’s Maunakea Observatories, located on the summit of a dormant volcano at an altitude of 13,796 feet, recorded that state’s lowest-ever temperature of 12º F on May 17, 1979.
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