According to the weather app on my phone, it’s 56 degrees outside right now, and the temperature today is supposed to hit 70 degrees. 56 degrees, in itself, is like a tropical heat wave, but . . . 70 degrees! Sure, it’s supposed to rain during the day, but still . . . 70 degrees! After the long, dark, dank, cold winter we’ve endured in the Midwest, outdoor temperatures that will actually feel warm seem so wildly improbable they can scarcely be imagined.
I’ve written before about the lousy winter weather, and those of us in the Midwest have been feeling pretty sorry for ourselves about it. And, in fairness, it has been an exceptionally crappy, frigid, snowy winter, so there has been cause for the muttering. But I do want to note that, as bad as it has been, it could have been worse. Much worse.
Consider Great Falls, Montana.
Our friends in Big Sky country have been through one of the coldest, most brutal continuous stretches of weather in recorded American history. As a slack-jawed article in the Washington Post recently recounted, in many parts of Montana temperatures for the entire month of February averaged — averaged — 27 to 28 degrees below normal . That’s hard to even conceive, and it is the most extreme, extended variance from normal temperatures seen in the lower 48 states in 50 years. And March began with temperatures going even lower.
Great Falls, Montana, was in the heart of the bone-chilling zone. The Post article notes that, in that city: “The mercury didn’t rise above zero on 11 days and dropped to zero or below on 24 nights. Only the first day of the month topped freezing. Its average February temperature finished 27.5 degrees below normal.”
“The punishing and unrelenting cold continued into March. On March 3, the low temperature tanked to a bone-chilling minus-32 in Great Falls. Combined with a high of minus-8, the day finished a whopping 50 degrees below normal. The city concluded its longest stretch on record below freezing on March 7.”
So sure, our weather sucked this winter — but the frozen souls in Great Falls had it much, much worse. Imagine a March day where temperatures were 50 degrees below normal, or a nearly two-week stretch where the temperature didn’t rise above zero, even once.
It will make hitting 70 today all the sweeter.