But Winter Texans say it’s no big deal. They’ve seen worse.
Back home in Minnesota, Jack Weston has experienced some of the most extreme cold that the United States can offer.
“The worst I can remember was 40 below zero,” Weston said.
So, what does 40-below feel like?
“When you breathe deep at 40 below, your nostrils stick together,” said Sandra Fowler, Weston’s partner. Fowler and Weston live in Nisswa, Minn.
Car trouble is a common theme in cold-weather stories from up north.
Muggs Tyson vividly recalls the hardening effect that extreme cold had on her father’s car, years ago, when she was a child growing up in International Falls, Minn.
“My dad was going to take me to school, and the steering wheel just snapped right off in his hands,” said Tyson, who still lives in International Falls today, when she’s not in Port Aransas for the winter.
Tyson’s husband, Rick, has had his own auto-related problems during bonechilling Minnesota winters.
While stopping at a gas station one day about 20 years ago, Rick made the mistake of taking one of his gloves off and then grabbing a metal gas pump nozzle.
“My hand was instantly frozen to it,” he said. “I couldn’t take my hand off it at all.”
His wife got some warm water from the gas station store and poured it over his hand to get him free.
Dwight Mezo, who winters in an RV in Port Aransas and lives in Harrisburg, Ill., the rest of the year, drove a tow truck in Illinois during the 1970s and ‘80s. On some winter days and nights, he rescued as many as 30 vehicles that had become stuck in the snow or spun on icy roads and landed in ditches.
During one particularly bad winter, years ago, Dave Olson of International Falls had to get up in the middle of the night on many nights and start his car to warm it up, so engine parts wouldn’t be frozen solid in the morning. He had antifreeze, he said, but it just wasn’t enough in that kind of cold.
Winter Texans say power outages also are common problems when the mercury takes a dive.
Five years ago, Alice Stahl experienced an ice storm so severe that she had no electrical service in her Wichita, Kan., home for five days. Big tree branches snapped by the cold snap littered her yard.
“You couldn’t move them, because they were covered with ice, stuck to the ground,” she said.
During an Arctic blast about 10 years ago, Sam Reda spent four days without electricity at his home on Lake Templene, near Sturgis, Mich. It was about 10 degrees outside, but Reda stayed warm by burning wood in his fireplace. He keeps hundreds of logs stationed near his front door.
But it’s not like life is completely miserable during winters in northern states. Even in sub- zero temperatures, folks find ways to entertain themselves in the outdoors. Marlowe Nelson remembers what he and his friends did on frigid nights many years ago.
“It could get to 30 below zero, and we’d go out in snow mobiles, and we thought we were having fun,” said Nelson, of Westbrook, Minn. “We’d go from bar to bar.”