The last week of January often marks the coldest week of the year, at least for the northern half of our planet. We’ve been tilted away from the sun for weeks, we’ve had short days of sunlight, and in some places cloudy gray skies make matters worse. So it’s no surprise that many states have had their coldest temperature ever in late January or early February. When you see some of the records set over the decades, you might find that a bowl of ice cream at 3 degrees F could warm you up.
Wee ones: If your refrigerator keeps food at 38 degrees, and it’s 31 degrees outside where you are, which one is colder, the outside or your fridge?
Little kids: Temperatures can get so cold that they’re below zero. Of the 48 contiguous U.S. states (the states that connect to each other), Montana has the coldest ever temperature of -70 degrees F, set on this day in 1954. But of all 50 states, Alaska holds the coldest record, at -80 degrees F. Who got colder, and by how many degrees? Bonus: Of the 50 states (i.e. not counting D.C.), 23 have had their coldest temperature in January. How many states have had it some other month?
Big kids: Poor Utah had its coldest day ever and its hottest day both in 1985: -69 degrees on February 1, and +117 degrees on July 5. How many degrees apart were their two worst days ever? (Hint: you have to put together the gap from -69 to 0, and 0 to 117…) Bonus: How many days apart were those two days?
Wee ones: The outside is colder than your fridge.
Little kids: Alaska got colder by 10 degrees F. Bonus: 27 states.
Big kids: A 186-degree spread! Bonus: Just 154 days, in over a century of temperature recordkeeping. It took 28 days to get to March 1, then 31, 30, 31 and 30 to get to July 1, then another 4 days.