If You Like Cold, You Should Have Seen the 1980s

If You Like Cold, You Should Have Seen the 1980s

The coldest day in the history of Whiting-Robertsdale was probably January 20, 1985. That’s when a temperature of 27 degrees below zero was officially recorded in the Chicago area.

Frigid weather was something the people of that time were accustomed to. If you were born on or before January 10, 1982, you lived through ten of the fifteen coldest days in local history. Three of those coldest days were in January of 1982, and all three rank in the top five on the list of coldest days.

The last time the temperature dropped to 20 below or colder, was January 18, 1994, when it reached 21 below zero.

Here is a list of the coldest days in our history:

1. 27 below zero - January 20, 1985
2. 26 below zero – January 10, 1982
3. 25 below zero – January 16, 1982
- December 24, 1983
5. 23 below zero – December 24, 1872
- January 17, 1982
- January 19, 1985
8. 22 below zero – January 21, 1984
9. 21 below zero – December 22, 1872
- February 9, 1899
- December 23, 1983
- January 18, 1994
13. 20 below zero – January 9, 1875
- January 25, 1897
- January 20, 1984

Wind chill reached 80 below zero on January 20, 1985.The cold caused the usual havoc in the lives of area people, with cars refusing to start, accidents due to icy roads, and frost bite for those who were not adequately protected from the weather. It also made an already bad situation at the Whiting Refinery even worse.

Amoco, the refinery owner at the time, had to deal with ice on Lake Michigan clogging their water intake. It shut down several refinery units and also caused problems for the residents of Whiting. At the time, the refinery supplied the city’s water.    

But we weren’t alone. Nationwide, twenty-nine deaths were blamed on the Arctic blast, which covered the Midwest and much of the East. It was so cold, that the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan for his second term in office had to be moved indoors, thanks to wind chills of 50 below zero in Washington, D.C. Instead of a crowd of thousands to witness the event from the steps of the U.S.Capitol, only 535 people were able to crowd inside the Capitol building to see the swearing-in. The inaugural parade was cancelled.    

It was also Super Bowl Sunday. Fortunately, it was played in the 53-degree warmth of Stanford, California. But if you had a Super Bowl party planned here in Whiting, getting to it to see the San Francisco 49’ers defeat the Miami Dolphins, meant you had to travel in air that was 80 degrees colder than fans attending in-person experienced.

And here’s a trivia question for you: Which day of the year, on average,  is typically the coldest in Whiting-Robertsdale?  The answer is January 29, which has an average low of 21 degrees, and an average high of 33. This year will bring that average down.