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An Inland Northwest winter is nothing compared to these spots

Thu., Feb. 28, 2013, midnight

March is expected to start off milder than normal despite winter’s return to the Inland Northwest over the past 10 days.

Since July 1, 42.6 inches of snow has fallen at Spokane International Airport. The average for a season is 46 inches. In Coeur d’Alene, more than 70 inches of snow has fallen for the 2012-’13 season.

A reader asked me this week about when the coldest day in North America occurred in modern times.

On Feb. 3, 1947, weather observer Gordon Toole at the tiny Snag Airport in Canada’s Yukon Territory reported the all-time record North American low temperature of minus 81.4 degrees.

Other record low North American readings include minus 79.8 degrees observed at Prospect Creek in Alaska on Jan. 23, 1971, and the all-time record low temperature for the Lower 48 of minus 69.7 degrees set at Rogers Pass, Mont., on Jan. 20, 1954.

The coldest temperature ever recorded in the Northern Hemisphere where people reside was the minus 90.4 degrees on Feb. 6, 1892, at Verkhoyansk, north of the Arctic Circle in Siberia.

The only other place in the Northern Hemisphere where temperatures have been colder than minus 81 degrees occurred in central Greenland on Jan. 9, 1954, at Northice, when a British team recorded minus 86.8 degrees.

There was an unofficial record low temperature of minus 94 degrees observed at Oymyakon in northeastern Siberia on Jan. 6, 1959. Oymyakon has been consistently colder than Verkhoyansk, so this record may be someday accepted as the coldest temperature in modern times in the Northern Hemisphere.

The coldest temperature ever recorded on earth was the minus 128.6 degrees reading at the Russian scientific station Vostok in Antarctica on July 21, 1983. This station, which is staffed year-round, owes its horrifically cold weather to a lofty altitude of 11,200 feet above sea level. Vostok also holds the second coldest reading ever observed of minus 126.4 degrees on Aug. 24, 1960.

In Spokane, the lowest temperature ever recorded was minus 25 degrees on Dec. 30, 1968.

The coldest morning in Coeur d’Alene occurred on Jan. 30, 1950, when the mercury dipped to minus 30 degrees.

We’ve obviously already had the coldest weather of the season, but despite the milder temperatures, I do expect to see a little more snow around the middle and the end of March. So don’t take off those snow tires just yet.

Contact Randy Mann at wxmann.

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