International Falls Breaks Cold Record

Brandon Weathers
Updated: January 31, 2019 04:35 PM

When talking about extreme cold, it's natural to recall previous severe cold snaps, such as that of 2014 and 1996. Well, International Falls left 1996 in the weather dust Thursday morning. Their old record of minus 35 in 1996 was shattered by ten degrees, at 45 below zero. 


"Well, it was day 3 of what has been pretty near-record breaking temps," shared Tricia Heibel, the president of the International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. She maintains they are a hearty bunch. "It's interesting to see who closes and who doesn't."

And there's always that silver lining. "You'll hear it at least once throughout town. Well, it's making ice! We have a big lake behind us, that Rainy Lake," she added.

“This late January 2019 cold snap is gonna go in the record books,” National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Moore said, "some areas of Northern Minnesota are going to be as cold as they were back in the 1996 cold snap."

That 1996 cold snap is what was responsible for all-time record cold in the Northland. The air temperautre in Tower, MN, was recorded to be -60 on February 2, 1996, which is the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state of Minnesota. Just two days later on Febraury 4, the coldest Wisconsin temperature was recorded to be -55 in Couderay.

"Even though in a few locations we might not break the records, we're still going to be some of the coldest all-time lows," Moore said. 

When it comes to wind chills, it's difficult to compare with the 1996 cold snap because a different chart was used back then. "The wind chill scale changed in 2001 to a much more scientifically accurate scale, so the wind chills and the frost bite times on the wind chill chart are a lot more accurate," Moore said. For example, a wind chill of -58 on the current scale would be considered a wind chill of -81 before 2001.

With this current deep freeze, dangerous wind chills are not limited to the Northland. "Usually when we issue wind chill warnings, it's for just northern Minnesota, northwest Wisconsin," Moore said, "it is certainly unprecedented for us to see such widespread dangerous cold across the Midwest."

As for hearing that Cotton had the coldest temp of the region, Heibel said this, "That's ok. We still have one of the coldest. -55 in January of 1909."


Brandon Weathers

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