by Mark Whitmore, Cornell University Cooperative Extension, Department of Natural Resources. February 2014.
Everyone can probably agree that we’ve had an unusually cold winter. According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center here on the Cornell campus this winter is amongst the top 5 coldest on record in Ithaca if you count the number of days when the temperatures dipped below zero Fahrenheit. However, by this standard the last time we had a winter as harsh as this was 2003, only 10 years ago. When thinking about the impacts on insects we often reference extreme low temperatures. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Ithaca was -35°F in 1934. Since then the coldest was -24°F in 1994. The problem with using individual weather sites to get an idea of area-wide impact is that as everyone knows there are cold spots and warm spots on the landscape. Here in Ithaca the coldest reported temperature this winter was -13°F at the Game Farm Road weather station but the director of the Northeast Regional Climate Center reported that he had -22°F at his house, just 10 miles away.