Cold Enough For Ya?

As Old Man Winter grips the heart of North America tighter than Charlton Heston held his gun, we present this iconic image encompassing all that's cold and dreary from a motorist's point of view. Even through the prism of time, distance and (assuming the home or workplace you're at right now is pleasantly warm and toasty) temperature, the sight of this majestic late-seventies Cadillac Sedan de Ville ensconced in ice and parked on a city sidestreet is certain to send chills down your spine.

Wish you weren't there? Absolutely... but where (and when) is “there”, anyway? It's perhaps appropriate that there's so little to tell about an image that says so much all on its own. What we do know is, the photo first appeared online on August 4th of 2011 at Chuckman's Photos On Wordpress: Chicago Nostalgia and Memorabilia. Site owner John Chuckman titled the image “CHICAGO – WINTER – A RECORD COLD DAY – PARKED CAR AS ICE-SCULPTURE – 1982”. Feeling nostalgic yet?

While winter in Chi-town is never to be taken lightly, the Winter of 1981-82 takes seasonal frigidity to a lower level entirely. Decades later, memories of January '82 still resonate... on January 16th of 2005, Tom Skilling of The Chicago Tribune penned a piece titled “Ice Station Chicago – 11 days in the deep freeze January 7-17, 1982”. As Skilling puts it, this was “a brutal 11-day span characterized by unprecedented cold, ground blizzards, dangerous windchills as low as -70 to -80 degrees, and daily snowfall. During this 11-day period the city established five new temperature records and recorded four days where the mercury dropped to -19(degrees) or lower.” BRRR!!

We'd like to think Chuckman's photo of a Caddy crushed by winter's icy jaws was taken on the final day of the freeze, known to weather historians as “Cold Sunday”. On January 17th, 1982, an unusually strong high pressure system centered above Saskatchewan, Canada, saw hundreds of towns and cities from North Dakota to New Jersey to Mississippi break low-temperature records that in many cases still stand today. In Chicago, the mercury dipped to a glacial ?27 °F (?33 °C). Park somewhere in temps like that and you're gonna STAY parked, pardner... at least until someone very, very brave comes along to snap your picture for posterity.