January? Duluth? Me? (Part 1: The Cold)

In the run up to this month, when I told non-Minnesotans that I’m scheming on a January in Duluth, their response was invariably something like, “Wow! [Joke about Minnesota cold.] Right?” Now, I know the North Woods are known for being exceptionally chilly, but Duluth is only 3° 34′ 5″ north of Milwaukee, where I normally live. I mean, we’re no slouches when it comes to winter, so how much more inclement can Duluth be? (Also, I spent my four college winters in Minnesota, so I hope I’m not completely clueless.)

To answer that question, I’ve decided to make my first infographic. Because I’m green when it comes to graphic design, I’ll do a fairly simple comparison — how did January temperatures in Milwaukee and Duluth compare last year?

First, I went to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s website where I queried the highs and lows from Milwaukee and Duluth for January 2011. Then, I compared the temperatures day by day and color-coded the differences. Here’s the key for Milwaukee minus Duluth temperatures and the corresponding colors:

MKEvDULkey

So, the darker the blue in a number’s box, the colder Duluth’s temperature was on that date in January. This first diagram compares high temperatures from Milwaukee and Duluth:

Milwaukee vs. Duluth, High Temp, 1/11

For every day of the month, Duluth’s high was colder than Milwaukee’s, and in most cases significantly so. Yikes! Now, how about those lows?

Milwaukee vs. Duluth, Low Temp, 1/11

On the 27th of January, Milwaukee’s lowest temperature of the day was lower than Duluth’s, and only very minimally. One out of thirty-one. Seems like Duluth will be tougher sledding than Milwaukee, yeah? (Or maybe easier?)

Let’s do one more way of looking at the difference — on a day by day basis, how did Milwaukee’s coldest temperatures compare to Duluth’s warmest? Another color key:

MKEvDULkeyii

A red box means Milwaukee’s coldest temperature was greater than Duluth’s warmest, yellow means those were the same, and blue means Milwaukee’s coldest was lesser than Duluth’s warmest. Got that?

Milwaukee vs. Duluth, Low vs. High, 1/11

All those red dates mean Milwaukee’s lowest temperature was still warmer than Duluth’s highest. For the majority of January, Duluth’s entire day was colder than Milwaukee at any point on that date. Yikes again.

So, Duluth in January is much colder than Milwaukee and 3° 34′ 5″ can make a much bigger difference than I thought. Also, I’ll probably need to learn some creative new ways to complain about and describe being cold. Any suggestions?

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