In fact, this kind of fluctuation isn't unexpected. Whenever you have a system in equilibrium and perturb it one way (think a spring or a pendulum), it tends to swing back the other way almost as much.
Right now is the first time our school district has called off three consecutive days since 1978, when the "Cleveland Superbomb" set a record for lowest non-tropical atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the mainland United States. (We had two weeks off back then and had to call out the National Guard.)
Our temperatures went from 30 to -15 in less than 48 hours and then it's supposed to go back up to 40+ with rain on Saturday. This kind of temperature yo-yo doesn't happen very often when you've got the Great Lakes sitting nearby.
Madison (and elsewhere) was closed for a second day -- yesterday it was technically not cold enough for closure (above the threshold) but today it was clearly not going to be that close; it was warmer and less windy. On the other hand, my model 2000 car will not start (may be now that it has warmed 20 degrees and is above 0  I will give it another try).
On the weather versus warming thing it is incredible that people think that since the global temperature is one degree warmer that very cold weather will not occur. Without global warming, maybe our low of -20 would have been -21...
This is from the home page of the University of Michigan:
>>Classes are canceled for Tuesday, Jan. 28, because of extreme wind chill temperatures, expected to be as low as -30 degrees. The cancelation includes classroom and laboratory instruction. <<
A tweet from a Michigan track runner informs that this is the first time the University has been forced to close for a full day since 1978.
FYI, this is the Ann Arbor weather forecast (from weather.gov)
Tuesday Mostly sunny and cold, with a high near 1. Wind chill values as low as -28. West southwest wind 11 to 17 mph. Tuesday Night Partly cloudy, with a low around -5. Wind chill values as low as -26. West southwest wind 14 to 17 mph.
Central California coastline got unmeasurable trace amounts of rain Sunday, otherwise no rain this month at all. Less than one inch this season when the average is @ 8-9 inches by this time. Without a major turnaround there will be huge economic damage to all agribusiness in the state. And if these conditions persist for another year or more then my area will be literally out of water for any purpose.
Will, Madison continues to be colder than normal (which is not real warm, this time of year). However, the XC skiing has been the best in several years and I have been hitting times for our lightly less than 5km loop that I have not hit in more than five years because the tracks are so good (and without any ice that often makes for fast times). I was on track for my best time of the year (57 for 14km classical) when the tops ob both calves cramped at the same time; boy it is hard to straighten out cramping legs when you have skis on and no quick release, fell over and hurt my arm, then limped in.
Unfortunately, the week ahead had a 'warm' day or two when it snows (and thus gets up to 20 or so) but mainly highs in the teens and single digits. Of course, we are about five degrees warmer than where Pego is.
We're having our first real winter in several years, best as I can recall. Lots of cold and frequent 2" to 6" snowfalls along the Front Range (Pueblo-C Springs-Denver-Boulder corridor).The central mountains got 26" of new snow at the end of last week. Snowing right now here in C Springs. The OG should be here this go around!
I travel to the FL panhandle yearly for business and was there a month ago when I was caught in the blizzard .. i never thought I would see the FL panhandle coast so covered in snow with the various bay shores of the gulf of mexico actually iced. Freaky cold.
It has not been record cold but it has been persistently cold in Madison this year. One measure of a cold winter is to take the coldest 'quarter', a 91-day period of consecutive days. Extending through tomorrow's forecast we will be at an average high of 21.4, low of 3.4 and daily average of 12.6. Not the coldest since I have been alive but close; however, the lowest was followed by the third and fourth lowest, while two years ago we had by far the warmest winter by this (or other) metric: 37, 20 and 28.7, sixteen degrees warmer. I wonder what Pego is doing up to my north (and a few others north of that (my dad did grow up in Grand Forks, they can keep their winters, thank you).
I am glad this cold hit during an era of fracking-affected low natural gas prices and after substantially increasing the insulation and upgrading the heating system.
We are only at about 38 days below that 0 threshold, but a number of days that were close. hopefully we will not make it tomorrow, and then we have a run of snow flurries etc, that will keep the temperatures up (here, as up by you, when it snows in the winter is warms up, it is not a cold shot, although it often gets colder afterwards). Then by getting to mid-March it will be harder to get down real low. We have not had many days above normal or even above freezing (except for when some rain hit twice) and thus we still have 9 inches on the ground even though this is not much snowier than an average winter.
First liar doesn't have a chance. I was living in Calgary in winter 1968-69. We had 62 consecutive days when the temperature remained below zero F, popped up to 2 degrees F for one day and went below zero for another 30 days... Edmondton did not even get that one day respite.. Calgary newspaper printed a certificate suitable for framing to commemorate the record. During this cold snap, I spent a few days with a seismic crew north of Grand Prarie where the overnight low hit minus 72 degrees F... a personal record... warmed up to about 30 below the next day and life went on.. It was amazing to a Southlander like me that with engine block heaters and adequate insulation, 20 below did not cause a hiccup in everyday life in Calgary.. This was during a period of construction of many downtown office towers. They wrapped the steel framework in plastic sheets and never paused. Fortunately, Calgary has a system of heated parking garages and covered elevated and subterranian walkways that make it possible to reach most downtown buildings without going outside. Calgary is a nice city.. it is just 2000 miles too far north.