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Cold Weather Feature

U.S. Postal Service mail carrier Anthony Turner works in the cold in Sioux City, Iowa on Tuesday, the 30th consecutive day in which the Sioux City temperature did not hit the freezing mark of 32 degrees. Tired of a colder and longer than normal winter, many Sioux City are anxious for warmer weather. 

SIOUX CITY --  At 7:30 a.m. Monday, Amy Peters pumped gas into her Chevrolet, and then quickly ran with young daughter, Abby, into the Casey's General Store on Gordon Drive.

With the temperature 4 degrees below zero, with a wind chill of 22 below,  Peters picked up a few items while bound for her job at Loess Hills Elementary School.

Peters and others were making the morning commute in the midst of a wind chill advisory. The bitter cold was a far cry from a normal March 4, with an average high of 40 degrees.

"I chose to live in Iowa...But yes, I'm ready for warmer weather," said Peters.

Five minutes later, Christine Shamblin, of Sioux City, was exiting the Hy-Vee store on Gordon Drive. Bundled up for yet another bracing winter day when the high eventually reached 13 degrees, Shamblin said it has been unpleasant to navigate the combination of snow and extreme cold temperatures in the Sioux City area.

"This is enough, come on," Shamblin said. "I hate cold, frigid."

There are many, many ways to quantify the abnormally cold last month. The final days of January were frigid, with morning lows bottoming out at 15 and 18 degrees below zero on Jan. 29 and 30, causing many Siouxland schools to cancel classes due to severe wind chills readings.

That was followed by three days when Sioux City temperatures moved into the upper 40s to low 50s, through Feb. 3. In the 30 days since that time, not one day has had a daily temperature than reached the historic normal high for those February and March days, and moreover, not once has the Sioux City temperature reached the 32-degree mark to allow the accumulated snow to melt.

The warmest day since Feb. 3 was 31 degrees on Feb. 23, which was immediately followed by the worst blizzard of the year, an event that essentially shut down Siouxland for two days.

Lastly, for many February days, the daily high has been perhaps one-fourth as warm as normal.  For instance, on Feb. 25-27 the Sioux City daily highs were 6, 10 and 12 degrees, covering three days when the normal high temperature was 39 degrees.

Frank Brienzo, of Sioux City, was navigating the Monday cold by getting coffee at Hy-Vee. Nearby, a man and woman discussed the necessity of having a dependable car that starts in extreme cold weather.

"I don't like the cold. It is just limits what you can do," Brienzo said. But he also is fairly resigned to it, saying, "It is what it is. It is Sioux City and it is Iowa. You have to do your best, bundle up."

"I feel bad for people who work outside," Brienzo said, citing construction workers and firefighters he had seen over the weekend.

Peters said the recent cold snap has meant students at Loess Hills haven't been allowed outside for recess, which she said is beneficial to breaking up their instructional day.

"They haven't been outside for a long time," Peters said. "The kids need fresh air."

Peters said when 2018-19 winter conditions first arrived, she took them in stride. But now it has gone on too long, and many nights after work she doesn't venture out.

"It is hard, you want to stay in, because you don't want to go back out in the cold," Peters said.

Most recently, Sunday's bitter cold weather, with a high temperature of 2 degrees, officially broke the coldest high-temperature record for March 3 in Sioux City. The previous record was 6 degrees in 1891.

The Wednesday high temperature is forecast at 23 degrees, and the forecast for the week ahead holds the possibility of finally reaching the 32-degree mark on Sunday, or March 10. If that holds true, it will have been 35 days since the last time melting was possible.

Also, more snow is bound for Siouxland on Thursday, so the city of South Sioux City has already announced snow emergency rules governing street parking, so main routes can be cleared by plows.

Alex Trellinger, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls, on Tuesday attributed the bitter cold to a persistent Arctic air mass that has lingered in the region. Trellinger said such conditions haven't allowed warmer temperatures to move up from the south.

"People are getting very frustrated with the cold right now. They are over the snow and want spring to come," Trellinger said.

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County & Education Reporter

Government and education reporter.

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