Reuters

The polar vortex brought the temperature in Embarrass, Minnesota, down to minus 35.

Embarrass, Minnesota, doesn't even know the coldest temperatures it has ever recorded. The day it might have set a record, in February 1996, the official thermometer broke when the temperature dipped below minus 57 degrees Fahrenheit.

This morning's reading of minus 35, the coldest temperature in the country on Tuesday, is warm by comparison. As we discussed Monday, at that temperature, standard antifreeze will freeze, and you can make vodka ice cubes.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, the superlative of coldest town in the state evokes something of a rivalry among communities that some might consider near-arctic wastelands.

"When Monday's cold spell struck the Upper Midwest, Embarrass residents not only took it in stride, they reveled in it," MPR reports. "Living in a place that is often the coldest spot in the state, they're used to the notoriety and take a certain amount of pride in its harsh conditions."

A community website proudly proclaims Embarrass to be "The Cold Spot," boasting that "it is not unusual to see temperatures around -30°F to -45°F many mornings before the sun comes up during the winter months." Even in the summer, cold snaps occur. Would-be Embarrass horticulturalists beware: "Many killing frosts have occurred during the middle of the summer making it challenging for gardeners to reap their rewards of a profitable harvest." Despite all this, the website insists the locale is "beautiful."
 
"The thermometer won't break this year," Rowland Fowler, the town's temperature recorder for the National Weather Service, reassured a local newspaper recently. "It goes to 100 below." He goes on to explain that he has three backup thermometers, in case another record breaks one of them. On that icy day in 1996, a nearby town—whose thermometer didn't break—took the state record at minus 60 degrees. Embarrass surely won't feel that kind of shame again.
 
This post originally appeared on National Journal, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Brian Resnick
Brian Resnick

Brian Resnick is a former staff correspondent at National Journal and a former producer of The Atlantic's National channel.

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    The Poverty Just Over the Hills From Silicon Valley

    The South Coast, a 30-mile drive from Palo Alto, is facing an affordable-housing shortage that is jeopardizing its agricultural heritage.

  2. Life

    When Artificial Intelligence Rules the City

    An expert panel ponders how AI will change our lives.

  3. Modest two-bedroom apartments are unaffordable to full-time minimum wage workers in every U.S. county.
    Maps

    Rent Is Affordable to Low-Wage Workers in Exactly 12 U.S. Counties

    America’s mismatch between wages and rental prices is more perverse than ever.

  4. The price of bananas is displayed on a digital price tag at a 365 by Whole Foods Market grocery store.
    How To

    The Past and Future of Urban Grocery Shopping

    In his new book, Michael Ruhlman charts the overlap of food, commerce, and identity.

  5. A cycling superhighway connects Arnhem and Nijmegen in the Netherlands.
    Videos

    Cruising a Superhighway Built for Bikes

    Leave it to the Dutch to engineer the psychology of the regional bike commute.