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40 Degrees of Separation

January 22, 2013 by Hailey Goplen

The current weather in Washington, DC.


As I scanned through my Facebook news feed this morning, I couldn’t help but laugh. The majority of the posts were related to cold weather. The thing is however, the bulk of the cold weather posts were not coming from my Fargo friends, but rather, those I’m connected with back in Maryland and Virginia. You see, the east coast was hit with a cold snap just has the Fargo-Moorhead area was. The difference? Oh, about 4o degrees.

The current weather in Fargo, ND.

While living in the Midwest has brought forth many positive personality characteristics in myself, I am sad to say  the one negative trait that has emerged is viewing the rest of the country as wimpy when it comes to cold weather. “Twenty degrees above zero and you’re whining? Suck it up!” I hear myself saying. I sound more like a grumpy old man (ironically, also a movie that was based in the Upper Midwest) rather than a patient, empathetic, nurturing, twenty-something year old. “You wanna’ know what real cold feels like? Come to Fargo!” I grumble.

And as I pushed the button of my automatic car start, zipped up my knee-length down coat, and wrapped a wool scarf half-way up my face this morning before venturing outside, I realized maybe I was overreacting just a bit. It wasn’t that long ago when I too thought twenty degrees above zero was cold. So, stay warm my east coast friends! I’m sending you warm thoughts from the sunny state of North Dakota.



  1. Jennifer says:

    I always tell people, “30 below keeps the riff raff out!”

  2. tom says:

    LOL again. One of my friend’s daughters lives in Phoenix and called just last fall claiming she needed her north dakota parka because it hit 55 degrees there.

  3. I actually miss the cold. What I really miss is the quiet of the pine woods after a fresh snow.

  4. Ida says:

    Hi! Love your blog!!! I grew up in Fargo for eight years in the 80’s, now I’m back in my home country Malaysia…oh how I miss those hair would freeze if I went out just after a shower..

  5. Amanda says:

    I grew up in northern SD, lived in Fargo for several years and I currently live in CA. On days it is in the 40’s-low 50’s, i’ve got my light down coat, scarf, mittens and I have to remind myself every day…”I would have been wearing this exact outfit in ND and not complained one darn bit. Suck it up, self!” My how the tables have turned.

  6. Joel says:

    as a repatriated North Dakotan 6 yrs ago, I’ve noticed most N. Dakotans fall into one of 3 categories:
    1. Those that say the winter is not that bad. sure there’s a few weeks in Jan or Feb that are cold, but the rest isn’t that bad.
    2. Those that think the winter is terrible and resent winter coming every fall, but for some reason stay here. These people bundle up with all their winter gear very early in the winter, and keep their houses very warm.
    3. Those that wear being able to handle our winter as a badge of honor. These people rest comfortably knowing that most of the rest of the country could not handle it past November in N. Dakota. (and that’s ok, it helps preserve our little piece of heaven here)

    Kind of looks like Hailey is progressing into category 3 now.

    • I think I definitely fell into category 3 this morning. I just pulled on my snow boots, packed an extra pair of shoes, and headed off to work in 6 inches of snow. I would have never survived like this when living on the East Coast.

  7. Eli says:

    Thank you for this blog! I am a nurse moving from California to Bismarck next month and just found your blog. It’s been helpful reading some of the articles here. I am definitely in for a treat, it’s considered cold in 50’s and 60’s here in Cali so I am def going to have to learn to “suck it up” and invest in some long johns… Thanks again!

    • Kory says:

      Eli, Bismarck is a great community! I’m sure you’ll like it. I’ve been here for a little over a year now and can honestly say that it’s the nicest town I’ve ever lived in.

    • Eli, I’m not as familiar with Bismarck, but I love North Dakota! The first winter is the hardest, but after that, you’ll love it here! Good luck!

    • Michelle says:

      Eli, I lived in Bismarck almost my whole life. The people are great. I miss it – would move back in a second.

  8. Jane says:

    It is the wind that is cold! (unless it is a Chinook) -10 with no wind is heaven compared to +15 and windy.

  9. Karlos says:

    As a seasoned veteran of Dakota and Minnesota winters, I still think the coldest I ever felt was Seattle in February.

    While snowbirding one year in Phoenix, I actually saw somebody waiting for a bus on a 68° afternoon wearing a parka. That same trip somebody said to my friend and me, “You’re snowbirds, aren’t ya?” How did she know? “You’re the only ones in the pool.

    One year while still living in Minnesota, a new arrival said to me in December, “This isn’t so bad”. I told him, “Just wait”. He said that’s what everybody else was telling him.

    Been in the 50s to near 70° here along Colorado’s Front Range this past week. Downside is the drought doesn’t want to give and the fire danger is high. Hopefully we’ll get some winter weather come March.

    Still working on digitizing those memoirs by that NoDak settler. Will let you know when I’m done.

  10. Bert Garwood says:

    As I write this, it is 47 degrees colder in Antarctica than it is in Grand Forks. (Base Arturo Prat, Antarctica 38F. Grand Forks ND -9F) Of course, it *is* summer there now.

  11. Evan Hazard says:

    Granted, it’s cold, colder than I’d experienced before we moved to northern MN in ’58. We’ve actually had lows in the -30s during the last week. But, for the first few decades after we moved here, it was common to have two or three nights below -40C here. That hasn’t happened lately, to my knowledge.

  12. Brian says:

    A good friend of mine moved to Texas a number of years ago. He and his wife are from North Dakota. After living in Texas for 2 years, they came back for a visit. During that visit, he was trying to tell me how cold it got in Texas during the winter. I said, “Ummm…you’re standing in North Dakota. You know how real cold feels, not that fake Texas cold weather”. He replied, “But you don’t understand, its a damp cold that chills you to the bone”. I laughed and told him…”that’s right, a 40 degree damp cold day will chill you a lot more than -25 with -50 wind chills. You keep telling yourself that you big wimp!”

    • I’ve heard that too with my family living in the Pacific Northwest where it rains all the time. Too funny!

    • Kory says:

      Having lived in NC when I was in the Army I can tell you first hand that the damp cold is rough. It’s not that it is brutal like what we deal with here, but it sinks into your bones and doesn’t leave for hours. At least with our bitter cold one can dress right and keep it at bay. It’s not as easy to keep damp out. That said I’ll take ND any day of the year as there are no “warmer” people anywhere than those who live in this area of the world.

  13. Shannon says:

    Exactly! People are funny. The fall of my friend from Kansas’s first winter in NoDak she was talking about how cold 40 degrees felt. I told her 40 felt cool in the fall, but wait till spring- 40 is tropical in the spring. She called me that spring when the temps got into the 40s to let me know how warm 40 felt to her then. She has since moved on to Maryland, but she likes to tell people “out East” to suck it up when they whine about the weather :)

    I love your blog. I am a lifelong 30something North Dakota resident. I recently discovered that my middle school daughter has your blog in her favorites on her Nook. I laughed when I told her I have you bookmarked at work. Thanks for your unique perspective!

    • You definitely have a new definition of what “cold” actually means after you have lived here for a while. Thanks so much for reading and glad your daughter enjoys my blog as well!

  14. jeff says:

    We had a woman come into work yesterday, she was from New Jersey. She was having car troubles and looked at us and said “ever sense I moved here I’ve thought this state is possessed.” lol Go back then I thought.

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