Disaster Zone

The Physical Touch of Climate Change

New Year's Eve was below zero — in the 1960s

by Eric Holdeman / January 2, 2019

Personal experience is a key determiner of how we as individuals perceive risk. If a person in their lifetime has not had issues with disasters, it is hard to convince them that flooding, a tornado or earthquake is something to become prepared to deal with. 

Interestingly, this opinion piece The Story of 2018 Was Climate Change from the New York Times "touches" on the aspect that people can feel the weather patterns changing. Perhaps this physical aspect will have an impact.

I grew up in Freeport, Ill. My memory of winters there were some bitterly cold temperatures. The lowest I can recall was -20 degrees. I remember one November when it dropped into the minus teens. Really cold for November. In 1977 I was stationed at Fort McCoy Wisc. That first winter was extremely cold, -30 degrees and that was not with the wind chill. The gasoline line on my car froze because I did not add a can of HEET which was something you did back in those days. Tonight it is 30 degrees in Sparta Wisc., as I write this on New Year's Eve, and in Freeport it is also 30 degrees — and snowing. 

New Year's Eve was traditionally a very cold time, a precursor to January and February cold zones. As I've watched the temperatures back home over the years — they are not nearly as cold as they were 60 years ago. You know what cold is when pumping gas at a gas station on New Year's Eve (1968) and the gasoline "kicks back — out of the tank" on your pants (old timers will remember those days). 

Anyway, check the records for where it used to be bitterly cold and you see that it still gets cold, but not bitterly cold. We are collectively the frogs in the pot that is gradually warming and causing all sorts of issues. The question is, will we become par-boiled before we wake up? Is it too late to try to make changes to our carbon footprint as a nation?

Claire Rubin, Senior Researcher, shared this last link above for 2018. (not the one on HEET)