Bates eked out a victory in this week’s NESCAC Chill Poll, our occasional survey of the coldest campuses in the ‘Cac on chilly winter nights. But oh, what might have been!

A week ago, it looked like we were heading toward a robust NESCAC Chill Poll. Forecasters said that cold air would roll in on Monday and Tuesday, then a calm Tuesday night would allow any remaining warm air to escape into the night sky, letting the temps tumble.

We envisioned skinny Mules snuggling up with burly Polar Bears, shivering Jumbos seeking warmth from husky and hirsute Mammoths. (Bobcats, at least the feline kind, aren’t into snuggling.)

But early this week, the forecast had changed. Rather than a clear and calm night, perfect for radiational cooling, the forecast called for increasing clouds — nature’s blanket — and a region-wide puff of warm air entering NESCAC Nation by mid-evening.

And boy did it ever, creating what weather folks call a “non-diurnal” pattern. Instead of falling overnight, the temperatures rose.

This satellite presentation shows the arrival of cold-spoiling clouds and warm air to the Northeast from about 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11, 2022, to midmorning the next day. The blue colors represent liquid water clouds such as fog and stratus, while gray to white indicates higher ice clouds. The city lights come from a static database derived from the VIIRS Day Night Band.
  • Here in Lewiston, it went from 7 below at midnight to 5 above by 7:14 a.m. sunrise on Wednesday.
  • In urban Medford, Mass., a metropolitan area home of the Tufts Jumbos and near the warmish ocean, it was the same story. Eight degrees by 8 o’clock Tuesday evening, but 15 degrees by sunrise Wednesday.
  • In New London, Conn., home of Connecticut College, the rise was dramatic. A dead-calm overnight allowed the temperature to fall to 7 degrees by 5:30 a.m. Then the warmish west breeze kicked in, and the temperature rose 19 degrees in just an hour!
  • In Clinton, N.Y., home of the Hamilton Continentals, the warm air arrived first, so their low temperature was actually recorded early Tuesday morning. They never got below zero Tuesday night.

Here’s the full listing:


11. Tufts: 8.2 degrees (at the university)
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10. Wesleyan: 5.3 degrees (Jan. 11)
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9. Connecticut College: 5.0 degrees
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8. Trinity: 4.8 degrees
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7. Amherst: 3.5 degrees (at the college)

6. Williams: 0.5 degree (at the college)

5. Bowdoin: minus 1.5 degrees
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4. Middlebury: minus 3.8 degrees
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3. Hamilton: minus 3.8 degrees
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2. Colby: minus 7.1 degrees
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1. Bates: minus 7.4 degrees
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Four years ago, Diana Flores ‘20 of the Bronx, N.Y., brandishes the official NESCAC Chill Poll thermometer with friends Luis David Molina Rueda ’20 (left) of Cabra, Spain, and Lillian Chang ’20 of Wilton, Conn. (Jay Burns/Bates College)

Temperatures are taken from Weather Underground reporting stations at or close to each campus. On-campus reporting stations are noted.

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