Friday, February 25, 2011

Winters in Big 10 cities

With UNL's entry into the Big 10, we will now be in a conference where all of the schools are located in a part of the country with cold winters. But, cold is a relative term and there is a fair amount of variance in average winter temperature and snowfall throughout the conference. I didn't compile snowfall statistics, but Lincoln would likely come in near the bottom among Big 10 cities in terms of total seasonal snowfall.

But what about temperature? Well here we have a little more room to brag. Over a 91 day period from the last part of November through the end of February, the average daily temperature in Lincoln is 32 degrees F or colder. How does this compare to other cities in Big 10 country?

Number of days where the daily average temperature is 32 degrees F or colder:

1. Minneapolis, MN: 124
2. Madison, WI: 111
3. East Lansing, MI: 102 (Lansing was used)
4. Ann Arbor, MI: 92
5. Lincoln, NE: 91
6. Evanston, IL: 90 (Chicago O'Hare was used)
7. Iowa City, IA: 86
t8. West Lafayette, IN: 82
t8. State College, PA: 82
10. Urbana, IL: 78
11. Bloomington, IN: 59
12. Columbus, OH: 58

So we rank a little higher than the middle of the conference for this statistic. I doubt anyone is surprised to learn that Minneapolis and Madison are the coldest spots, but some might be a little surprised to see that we are a shade colder than Chicago (when using this statistic). Of course, comparing data from these cities should be done with some caution, as weather station location and instrumentation will have some effect.

There are, of course, other measures for determining who has the worst winters. If we were looking at wind chills, subzero temperatures, or days with highs below 10, it is likely that Lincoln would be in the top half of the conference in those categories as well. Conversely, our snowfall amounts are meager compared to some cities in the Midwest (even though snow can hang around for relatively long periods of time), we will probably be sunniest city in the conference, and we are more apt to have a day in the 50's or 60's in the winter than many others in the conference. So there is some balance to the cold at least.

Another balancing of that cold is our summer, which is likely the warmest of any in the Big 10, but that's a story for another day!

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