Minus 31 degrees isn't just cold. It's historically cold.
The reading at the Oklahoma Mesonet weather station in Nowata at 7:40 a.m. Thursday will be considered for the official record of the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state.
It would eclipse the previous record low of minus 27 degrees, set in Vinita on Feb. 13, 1905, and Watts on Jan. 18, 1930.
A Mesonet station in Medford recorded a wind chill of minus 47 degrees Thursday, setting another record.
Charlie Stewart, owner of Ranch Supply in Nowata, 50 miles north of Tulsa, said the record temperature has been the talk of the town.
“We've had people coming in saying they didn't believe it got that cold,” Stewart said.
Stewart said his best-selling item lately has been bird food. Birds have trouble finding food after a heavy snow, and bird lovers have been doing their best to help.
“I could have sold a truck load of bird feed last week,” Stewart said. “I'm being facetious, but I have sold a lot of bird seed.”
Most of the 3,000 residents of Nowata likely were more concerned about what was happening inside their houses Thursday.
A power outage left them without electricity or water for about six hours, said Dave Neely, a Nowata insurance agent.
Many residents use wood or gas for heating, but those gas furnaces have electric starters, he said.
“You can get along without electricity, but you have to have water,” Neely said. “The city doesn't have a backup generator to pump water to the towers.”
At least one person was surprised to hear that Vinita no longer holds the cold-weather record.
“Usually Vinita is the coldest spot in Oklahoma,” said Ron Mabe, Vinita Walmart Supercenter manager.
But who can tell the difference when the temperatures get that low, he said.
“Twenty-five below is the same as 15 below,” Mabe said. “It's cold.”
The record cold comes after record snowfalls from two major winter storms in the past two weeks. No fatal wrecks have been attributed to snow or ice on Oklahoma roads this week, but Oklahoma Emergency Management spokeswoman Michelann Ooten said a Beggs man was found dead Wednesday in the snow after his vehicle became stranded.
The temperature at Bartlesville dipped to minus 28 degrees Thursday morning, the second-coldest in the state, said meteorologist David Jankowski in Tulsa.
Michael Colaw, 38, who lives with his wife and three children near downtown Bartlesville, said he put a space heater in his basement Jan. 31, near where the water lines enter the house.
“The space heater is still working; the water is not,” he said Thursday. “That seemed to work until today. I got up to brush my teeth and start the day, and there was no water.”
His father, the Rev. Max Colaw, 65, also lives in Bartlesville. He said they had 18 inches of snow during the first winter storm.
“I got that shoveled out of my driveway and thought, ‘I've got it made,'” he said. “Now I think I've got about 14 to 15 inches from this storm in my driveway.”
Power outages were a problem across the state Thursday morning, with nearly 11,000 customers reported without electricity by the state's two largest electric utilities.
Road conditions had improved across most of the state, but the snow continued to cause problems in the far northeast part of the state, which had the highest snowfall totals this week.
A 47-mile stretch of the Will Rogers Turnpike was closed for about four hours Thursday because of multiple wrecks.
Temperatures are expected to warm up across the state today and through the weekend, with highs in the 40s today warming to the upper 60s Sunday.