Minnesota: Land of Winter Enthusiasts…and COLD Weather

Welcome to Thursdays in the Land of 10,000 Words. It’s the day I celebrate Minnesota and what makes it such a great place to live (or visit, if you’re stuck living somewhere else).

One question I often hear from people outside of Minnesota is “Why do you live there?” In the midst of below-zero temps, I wonder the same thing. But having grown up in a place where there are four distinct seasons (and a few others not quite so distinct), I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Hwy36-snowmanSpring without an unexpected snowfall? Lazy summer days without mosquitoes? Fall without the crunch of leaves and the smell of bonfires? Christmas without snow? It wouldn’t be right.

I think anyone who visits here during spring, summer or fall understands our infatuation with the change of seasons. It’s the winter that usually stumps them. According to Greg Spoden, a DNR Waters Climatologist: “International Falls is the coldest major National Weather Service station outside Alaska. The city has an average annual temperature of only 37.5 F. On average, the thermometer there dips to zero or below 64 days each winter. In Roseau, also near the Canadian border, the average January temperature is almost a degree below zero (minus 0.7 F). The Twin Cities is the coldest major population center in the United States (45.4 F average annual), and one of the coldest in the world.”

Okay, now I’m wondering why I live here! But why is it so cold? Greg clears that up as well. “Minnesota’s relatively high latitude leads to long winter nights and only a glancing blow of sunlight during winter days. In the center of the continent, the state is far from the temperature-moderating influence of oceans, and has no natural barriers to deflect invasions of arctic air from the north or northwest.” Aha! That’s the problem. Who’ll help me start a campaign to convince North Dakota to grow more trees??

So the question remains – who wants to Train_stuck_in_snowgo outside and have their nose freeze shut? Or their eyes water from stinging cold air? Or have to warm up their car before going somewhere? Apparently we do. We’re a hardy bunch and proud of it. We not only put up with winter, we embrace it. And we love to complain about it. Right behind “You betcha” is the very Minnesotan “Cold enough for ya?”

We ski and skate (some people skate ski). We go tubing (sliding downhill on inflatable tubes). We snowshoe. We ice fish. We play outdoor hockey and broomball. We build snow forts. We camp (yes, in the dead of winter – okay, I’ve known people who do, anyway). We walk our hardy dogs. We drive snowmobiles. We dogsled. And occasionally we get frostbite. But most of us know enough to cover up when the windchill gets below zero (that’s what the air feels like on bare skin based on the wind).

photo by wheresmysocks
photo by

One way to celebrate the cold is to attend the St. Paul Winter Carnival. For a week or so at the end of January, there are parades, a medallion hunt, ice castles, hockey tournaments, the Klondike Kate contest (those women can sing!), a hot air balloon rally and race, ice sculpting, and lots of coffee and hot chocolate.

It might be easier to stay indoors where it’s warm, but it’s WAY more fun getting outside to enjoy the beauty of a crisp winter day, the thrill of a toboggan ride, or skating arm-in-arm with that special someone. So don’t be afraid of Minnesota in the winter. Come experience it and you’ll be hooked!

What do YOU like to do in the winter?

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