Over the last few days, official temperatures in Detroit Lakes broke at least a 30-year record for continuous hours below zero, according to Dick Hecock of Detroit Lakes. Hecock, a former geography professor, has long been an interested observer of local weather trends, including ice-on and ice-off dates for Detroit Lake.
In the winter of 1995-96, he said, Detroit Lakes saw 162 continuous hours below zero. But this year, starting on the evening of Feb. 5, and ending late morning of Feb. 16, Detroit Lakes blew past that record by enduring 274 hours of temperatures below zero.
To be fair, the winter so far has been nowhere near as severe as the winter of 1995-1996, where lows reached minus 46 degrees, and there was more snow, besides.
(A year later, in the winter of 1996-1997, eight blizzards rolled through the area, and there was so much snow it caused catastrophic Red River flooding in the spring. But the overall temperatures weren't as cold.)
But even the those two winters of 1995-1997, the memory of which still make brave men tremble in their long johns, were not the worst on record.
That dubious honor could well belong to the winter of 1935-1936, which certainly exhibited some impressively extreme weather.
During that winter, Hecock said, there were 57 days in which the lows went below zero, including many that went way below zero: 18 of those days were colder than 30 below, and seven days dropped into the minus 40s.
How cold was it? In January of 1936, for example, 11 days stayed below zero for highs, including Jan. 23, when the daytime high was 30 below. In February of 1936, there were 17 days where temperatures remained below zero, including a consecutive run of 15 days in a row (about 380 hours) of subzero temps. The icing on that thermometer, so to speak, was Feb. 5, when 30-below was the high for the day
So cheer up -- looks like the worst is behind us for this winter. The National Weather Service is forecasting highs in the teens, 20s and even 30s through Thursday.
Might as well find an excuse to get outside and enjoy it.