An earlier version of this story originally appeared on Gallup.com on January 12, 2017.
Forty-two years ago this month, much of the U.S. experienced record-low temperatures that lasted anywhere from a week to the entire month. January 1977 remains the coldest month on record in Ohio (at least, before now) and the only time snow has been reported in South Florida. Gallup documented at the time what this meant for Americans, asking, "Has this cold weather caused any specific hardships or inconveniences for you and your family, or not?"
|% Yes, caused hardships|
|East Central (Great Lakes)||45|
|West Central (Plains)||29|
|Gallup, Feb. 4-7, 1977|
Overall, one in three Americans told Gallup the cold had caused them problems. This ranged from just 8% in the Western regions of the country, which were spared the full wrath of that year's polar vortex, to more than 40% in areas east of the Mississippi River.
Reflecting the severity of the weather, the rate of disruption was highest in the Great Lakes states of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois -- the epicenter of that year's "cold anomaly." But it was nearly as high in the Southeast -- the states along the Eastern Seaboard from Virginia to Florida, plus Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi -- where such cold is unusual.
Gallup rounded out the assessment by asking all those who reported experiencing hardships to describe those inconveniences. Financial implications were the most common responses, including paying for fuel and missing work. Frozen pipes, various car troubles, sickness and dealing with livestock also made the list.
Top Cold-Weather Hardships
- High cost of fuel
- Employment problems (missed work/laid off)
- Frozen pipes in house
- House colder than usual/hard to heat
- Unable to go outside because of the bitter cold
- Sickness and cold-related ailments
- Poor driving conditions
- Transportation difficulties
- Frozen car battery
- Children missing school
- Cold is unpleasant/annoying
- Continuous snow-shoveling
- Dangerous walking conditions
- Difficulty caring for livestock
In the category of "So you think you have it bad?" the Gallup article quotes a Tennessee man saying, "We couldn't get out of the house, and we were darn lucky we weren't hurt when the trees iced over and fell on the roof of our house. Then along came a stiff wind and blew the roof right off."
Read the original Gallup news release.
These data can be found in Gallup Analytics.
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