Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

‘Arctic?’ The more appropriate word is ‘December’

Chilly, yes; but it’s been way, way colder than this in December.

Loyal reader Dr. Walter McKuen, one of the region's most reliable bashers of weather wimps, holds that Philadelphians wouldn't know real cold if it froze them in place.

The Center City resident grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and recalls a blizzard when the temperature was 70 below (we couldn't verify), and his grandfather had to jump out a second-story window to leave the house (we couldn't verify that, either).

By any measure it is, indeed, cold this morning, but I'm sure McKuen would side with Tom Fulmer, one of the keepers of the excellent chat board, who questioned whether one could call this an "Arctic blast."

The official forecast high for Friday is 40, which is about normal for January, and, yes, those winds do add discomfort.

The morning low of 30 would yield a daily average temperature of 33. The Saturday forecast of 39-25 would equal an average of dead-on freezing, 32.

So where would they rank in the pantheon of Dec. 9s and 10s?

For a 9th, an average of 35 would rank a rather unimpressive No. 50 in the 143 years of official recordkeeping in Philadelphia.

A 32 average on the 10th would place a little better — No. 38.

We suspect that all the attention this cold is getting can be explained by two basic principles: All weather is local, and all weather is relative. (On the other hand, everyone might be tired of talking about the election.)

We have had quite mild fall, and temperatures for the month were averaging nearly 4 degrees  above normal through Thursday in Philly.

Plus our most-recent December experience, that of 2015, was almost beyond belief. Last year on this date it went up to 58, and 62 on the 10th.

As for real Arctic blast, check out Dec. 9-10, 1876. On the 9th, it went down to 6. The next day, the high was 17, the low 4.

Stay warm.