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Weather Talk: Three weeks of cold is not enough to break records

The weather has been generally cold since Christmas. Most of the days and nights have been well below average. But to put this into perspective, there have been no record low temperatures during the past three weeks. No records have been set for number of days or nights below zero. It has been cold, but not unusually so. It would likely have been colder, perhaps by a few degrees each day, had our snow cover been deeper. This is due to the isolative and radiative properties of deep snow. Some will argue that it has been unusual to be so consistently cold for so long, but this is also not true. The fact that the past two winters have been extremely mild has probably tempered our weather memories. The cold snap has been, relative to average weather, much more extreme across the eastern United States. However, nowhere has there been any unprecedented weather. It has been a three-week cold snap. That's all.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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