As our arctic airmass moves steadily south through western Canada toward the Four States area, it always makes us think back to days of old when we suffered through earlier, historic cold waves. And, the older we are, it becomes almost fun talking about our experiences making it through those record breaking days from years gone by. The really cool thing is; you don’t even have to be very old to reminisce about your suffering from one of these brutally cold air masses right here in Joplin, because included in the list of “coldest ever” temperatures was an incredibly cold day in 2021. During the mid month cold wave in February 2021, high temperatures never warmed above freezing for almost two straight weeks, and our second coldest day in Joplin since National Weather Service records were maintained back in 1902, occurred on February 16.

And for the “old timers”, the meteorological data will bring back fond memories of frozen days of yore. The coldest temperature recorded in the center of the modern-day viewing area occurred back in 1905; a bit too far back even for the old timers to brag about their cold wave experiences. The temperature dropped to -21°F in Joplin, on February 13th of that year. However, that arctic air mass was associated with a tremendous temperature gradient, because the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state of Missouri occurred on that same date, and it was almost 20 degrees colder than our frigid 21 below zero. The all-time coldest temperature in Missouri bottomed out at -40°F on February 13, 1905!

YearJoplin Record Low (°F)
1905 (February) -21
2021 (February) -15
1989 (December) -15
1985 (January) -12
1979 (February) -12

As you can see from the all-time coldest temperatures recorded in Joplin since 1902, some of us will remember these other years where weather history was made. There were some extremely cold winters back in the 1980s. As you can see from the chart above, our 3rd and 4th coldest temperatures in the last 100+ years were recorded back during this decade. Average December temperatures in the Missouri winter of 1983, averaged only 17.6 degrees; breaking the record for the coldest December in history. Another record cold period included the mid to late 1970s when some of you may remember the winter of 1976-77 (the fifth coldest winter on record), and the winter of 1978-79 (the third coldest winter on record), when Joplin recorded it’s 5th coldest temperature since 1902, when the recording of meteorological data began in the city.