In single digit temps, Wisconsinites answer ‘How cold is too cold?’

Some plunged their heads underwater. Others preferred to layer up.
Published: Feb. 6, 2021 at 7:28 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - How cold is too cold? There’s snow right answer.

Saturday led a string of First Alert Days to come, with temperatures dipping into the single digits.

UW-Madison officials called it “inclement weather,” postponing all in-person activities at the Winter Carnival. “There are the dangers of exposed skin with frostbite,” Joe Webb, the director of Outdoor UW, said. “More or less it’s just not comfortable. These events are supposed to be fun.”

For eight decades, festivities and sights like Lady Liberty on Lake Mendota had taught Wisconsinites to embrace the elements (although, due to coronavirus concerns, the Winter Carnival decided to nix the attraction altogether this year. Officials replaced it with a DIY Lady Liberty photo contest).

The Clean Lakes Alliance also canceled Kites on Mendota, blaming the weekend’s freezing temps and high winds. “We fight the weather,” spokesperson Adam Sodersten said. “When you have an event in the summer you hope it doesn’t rain but when you have an event in the winter, you hope it’s cold enough but not too cold.”

But Lake Mendota wasn’t entirely empty.

Christopher Hastings and the UW Hoffers jumped into an ice hole. “It’s exhilarating, revitalizing,” Hastings, a sophomore, said. “[The cold] activates something very deep inside of you. It’s hard to explain.”

Hastings said club members practice the Wim Hoff method of breathing and meditation in extreme temperatures.

Austin Kunch, visiting from Ohio, also took the plunge. “It makes me happy,” he said. “It makes me a better person, and it makes me fear things less.”

Others who walked on and around the frozen lake Saturday said layering was the key to enjoying “a beautiful day.” Bill Nazarkewich and his family showed off their mittens, as Matthew Brown and Christopher Koenig said the weather was “fine,” compared to what’s to come Sunday.

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