Long-standing records are poised to fall as the polar vortex sends extremely cold air into the north-central, midwestern and northeastern United States.
States of emergency have been issued in Wisconsin, Illinois and Michigan due to the extreme cold with many schools and businesses closing until the frigid air loosens its grip on the region later this week.
Minneapolis could break low temperature records originally set back in the 1800s, and Chicago could challenge it's all-time record low of minus 27 F, set on Jan. 20, 1985.
I recall that record low. I drove to Bayfield, Wisconsin to photograph ice formations on Lake Superior. The actual temperature was -40. I do not know what the wind chill was.
I kept my car running all night, locked, out of fear it would not start.
I got up the next morning, well before sunrise, and drove to Madeline Island.
They call it a "seasonal road". In reality it's Lake Superior.
But a few months of the year the ice is solid enough to drive on. Gas taxes support the "road".
Big Bay State park is on the far side of the island. No one in their right mind was anywhere near where I was that morning, but there I was and here is the image.
Big Bay State Park Winter Sunrise
Falling Through the Ice
Shortly after taking that image I fell through the ice, but not completely. One knee slammed into the ice holding me up, while the other leg went completely through.
The knee that hit the ice, my left knee, immediately swelled up and I could barely move it. I had a mile to go on cross county skis to get to my car. My car at the time had a clutch. I drove back to Chicago in two gears, second and fourth to eliminate painful shifting.
It was 6 months before the pain in my left knee was completely gone.
A worker friend asked me if I learned anything from the experience. I immediately replied, "Yes, you have to take some chances if you want to get good pictures".
He commented. "Well, at least you learned something".
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Mike “Mish” Shedlock