What is permafrost?

Permafrost refers to soil that is frozen all year long, even during the summer, for two consecutive years or more. Such conditions occur in areas where the mean annual temperature is 23°F (-5°C) or less. Construction in polar regions where permafrost is found can be problematic, because sometimes the ground can thaw beneath a building that was constructed over frozen ground; when this happens, building foundations are easily compromised.

Is there much permafrost in the lower 48 U.S. states?

There is no permafrost in the lower 48 states, though states such as North Dakota and Minnesota do often experience conditions where frost levels penetrate the ground to depths extended 30 or more inches (76 centimeters).

Have the Great Lakes ever been completely frozen over?

There have been occasions when the Great Lakes completely froze, which last happened in 1979. In the winter of 1993 to 1994, the lakes almost froze solid, but not completely. Even though this does not happen often, the Great Lakes generally shut down to shipping traffic during the months of January through March because the ice is far too hazardous.

Has the Hudson River ever frozen over?

The Hudson River in New York state extends about 300 miles (483 kilometers) from Lake Tear-of-the-Clouds on Mount Marcy down to New York Bay. When people think of the Hudson, what comes to mind is the part of the river that flows through the New York metropolitan area. This section does not freeze often, the last time being in January of 1918. However, at the higher elevations near the river's source, the Hudson freezes quite regularly.

What are some of the lowest temperatures ever recorded?

The table below lists some of the most chilling temperatures, by region, that have been recorded by meteorologists.

Is Moscow, Russia, colder than Minneapolis, Minnesota?

Moscow is at a latitude of 55° 45', while Minneapolis is at 44° 53'. Nevertheless, they have similar climates. Both cities experience mean January temperatures of about 14°F (-10°C), while Julys are about 66°F (18.9°C) in Moscow and 74°F (23.3°C) in Minneapolis on average.

Low Temperature Records

Place

Year

Temperature (°F/°C)

Vostok, Antarctica

1983

-129/-89.4

Klinck, Greenland

1991

-93/-69.6

Oimekon, Russia

1933

-90/-67.8

Verkhoyansk, Russia

1892

-90/-67.8

Northice, Greenland

1954

-87/-66

Snag, Yukon, Canada

1947

-81.4/-63

Ust'Shchugor, Russia

1978

-73/-58.1

Coyaique Alto, Chile

2002

-36/-37.7

Sarmiento, Argentina

1907

-27/-32.8

Ifrane, Morocco

1935

-11/-23.9

Charlotte Pass, New South Wales, Australia

1994

-9.4/-23

Mauna Kea Observatory, HI

1979

12/-11.1

What are some of the coldest temperatures ever recorded in the United States?

Coldest U.S. Temperatures

Location

Dates

Record Low (°F/°C)*

Prospect Creek, AK

January 23, 1971

-80/-62

Tanacross, AK

February 3, 1947

-75/-59.4

Rogers Pass, MT

January 20, 1954

-70/-56.7

Peter's Sink, UT

February 1, 1985

-69/-56.1

Riverside Ranger Station, MT

February 9, 1933

-66/-54.4

Moran, WY

February 9, 1933

-63/-52.7

Maybell, CO

February 1, 1985

-61/-51.7

Island Park Dam, ID

January 18, 1943

-60/-51.1

Tower, MN

February 2, 1996

-60/-51.1

Parshall, ND

February 15, 1936

-60/-51.1

McIntosh, SD

February 17, 1936

-58/-50

Tetonia, ID

February 9, 1933

-57/-49.4

Couderay, WI

February 4, 1996

-55/-48.3

What is the best weather for maple syrup to be produced?

Maple syrup harvesters wait until nighttime temperatures dip below freezing, while day temperatures are above freezing. The conditions are ripe for the sap in maple trees to flow best.

Location

Dates

Record Low (°F/°C)*

Seneca, OR

February 10, 1933

-54/-47.8

Old Forge, NY

February 18, 1979

-52/-46.7

Vanderbilt, MI

February 9, 1934

-51/-46

San Jacinto, NV

January 8, 1937

-50/-45.5

Gavilan, NM

February 1, 1951

-50/-45.5

Bloomfield, VT

December 30, 1933

-50/-45.5

Big Black River, ME

January 16, 2009

-50/-45.5

*Does not account for wind chill.

 
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