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Tales from the old-timer

A Real Old-Fashioned Winter

Back in 1979 I kept a sort of journal of my and my family’s doings, and even noted daily morning temperatures. The scientists studying such matters have been reporting that human activity does have an effect on the environment, the water and the atmosphere especially.

Ultra conservative types scoff at the possibility and smell evil governmental regulations might be in the offing, and they point out that this part of the United States at 45 degrees north latitude was in fact ice-covered some few thousands of years ago, as an example that climate changes have always been with us.

Anyhow, let’s look at the record, as former Presidential candidate Al Smith, used to use as a slogan.

I noted 19 degrees below zero on Jan. 2, 1979 and 18 below on Jan. 3, with 11 below zero on the 4th. It dipped back to 21 below on the 5th and 13 below zero on Jan. 6., and dropped to 26 below on Sunday, Jan. 7. We had 19 below on Jan. 8. I noted also on that date that Dallas and Pittsburgh were big NFL winners that Sunday.

It rose to a balmy 3 below on the 9th before dropping again to 9 below on the 10th. I also noted a holdup at Super America gas station in Marinette by a man using a sawed off shotgun. Jan. 11 saw the thermometer plunge to 33 degrees below zero and I noted that my Subaru was reluctant to start that morning, so I stayed home and took a vacation day.

It warned up to only 6 below on Friday, Jan. 12 and to 13 degrees above zero on Jan. 13. It was 6 below on the 14th and minus 22 on the 15th. I noted cars were very balky about starting in such cold.

It warmed up to 12 above on Wednesday, Jan. 17, which seems more like what we had this year of 2012! But it dived down to 18 below the next day, and warmed to 17 above on the 19th, and 19 above on the 20th and 22 above the next day, followed by 20 and 15 above zero on the 23rd and 24th. Temperatures of plus 6 and plus 14, 19, and 22 in days following. It stayed “warm” in the teens for several days, but got two below on Feb. 2 and 15 below by Feb. 5 and 10 below on the 8th and back down to 6 below on Friday, Feb. 9.

I quit entering the temperatures at that point but it showed zero on Feb. 14 and 15 but we again got nailed with 27 below zero on Feb. 17 and 17 below on the 18th and showed 10 above by Feb. 20, then warmed up to 3 below zero on Feb. 27. There followed several days of no entries but a dip to 8 below on March 27, followed by rising temperatures in April with a short dose of 4 below zero on March 12.

The winter we are just now winding up showed almost no sub zero weather and March was unusually warm, with some early blossoming on fruit trees that was premature for this far north.

No long-term conclusions can be valid on the basis of my log here, but reports of shrinking ice caps at the north and south poles seem to verify the scientific opinions of climatologists that human activity in the form of tens of millions of discharges from industrial plants and auto engines may have something to do with it.


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